Will time have meaning in the post singularity world? Let’s start by understanding terms. The first term we will work at understanding is “time.”

Almost everyone agrees that time is a measure of change, for example, the ticking of a clock as the second hand sweeps around the dial represents change. If that is true, time is a measure of energy because energy is required to cause change. Numerous proponents of the “Big Bang” hold that the Big Bang itself gave birth to time. They argue that prior to the Big Bang, time did not exist. This concept fits well into our commonsense notion that time is a measure of change.

Our modern conception of time comes from Einstein’s special theory of relativity. In this theory, the rates of time run differently, depending on the relative motion of observers, and their spatial relationship to the event under observation. In effect, Einstein unified space and time into the concept of space-time. According to this view of time, we live on a world line, defined as the unique path of an object as it travels through four-dimensional space-time, rather than a timeline. At this point, it is reasonable to ask: what is the fourth dimension?

The fourth dimension is often associated with Einstein, and typically equated with time. However, it was German mathematician Hermann Minkowski (1864-1909), who enhanced the understanding of Einstein’s special theory of relativity by introducing the concept of four-dimensional space, since then known as “Minkowski space-time.”

In the special theory of relativity, Einstein used Minkowski’s four dimensional space—X1, X2, X3, X4, where X1, X2, X3 are the typical coordinates of the three dimensional space—and X4 = ict, where i = square root of -1, c is the speed of light in empty space, and t is time, representing the numerical order of physical events measured with “clocks.” (The mathematical expression i is an imaginary number because it is not possible to solve for the square root of a negative number.) Therefore, X4 = ict, is a spatial coordinate, not a “temporal coordinate.” This forms the basis for weaving space and time into space-time. However, this still does not answer the question, what is time? Unfortunately, no one has defined it exactly. Most scientists, including Einstein, considered time (t) the numerical orders of physical events (change). The forth coordinate (X4 = ict) is considered to be a spatial coordinate, on equal footing with X1, X2, and X3 (the typical coordinates of three-dimensional space).

However, let’s consider a case where there are no events and no observable or measurable changes. Does time still exist? I believe the answer to this question is yes, but now time must be equated to existence to have any meaning. This begs yet another difficult question: How does existence give meaning to time?

We are at a point where we need to use our imagination and investigate a different approach to understand the nature of time. This is going to be speculative. After consideration, I suggest understanding the nature of time requires we investigate the kinetic energy associated with moving in four dimensions. The kinetic energy refers to an object’s energy due to its movement. For example, you may be able to bounce a rubber ball softly against a window without breaking it. However, if you throw the ball at the window, it may break the glass. When thrown hard, the ball has more kinetic energy due to its higher velocity. The velocity described in this example relates to the ball’s movement in three-dimensional space (X1, X2, and X3). Even when the ball is at rest in three-dimensional space, it is it still moving in the fourth dimension, X4. This leads to an interesting question. If it is moving in the fourth dimension, X4, what is the kinetic energy associated with that movement?

To calculate the kinetic energy associated with movement in the fourth dimension, X4, we use relativistic mechanics, from Einstein’s special theory of relativity and the mathematical discipline of calculus. Intuitively, it seems appropriate to use relativistic mechanics, since the special theory of relativity makes extensive use of Minkowski space and the X4 coordinate, as described above. It provides the most accurate methodology to calculate the kinetic energy of an object, which is the energy associated with an object’s movement.

If we use the result derived from the relativistic kinetic energy, the equation becomes:

KEX4 = -.3mc2

Where KEX4is the energy associated with an object’s movement in time, m is rest mass of an object, and c is the speed of light in a vacuum.

For purposes of reference, I have termed this equation, KEX4 = -.3mc2, the “Existence Equation Conjecture.” (Note: With the tools of algebra, calculus, and Einstein’s equation for kinetic energy, along with the assumption that the object is at rest, the derivation is relatively straightforward. The complete derivation is presented in my books, Unraveling the Universe’s Mysteries, appendix 1, and How to Time Travel, appendix 2.)

According to the existence equation conjecture, existence (i.e., movement in time) requires negative kinetic energy. This is fully consistent with our observation that applying (positive) kinetic or gravitational energy to elementary particles extends their existence. There may also be a relationship between entropy (a measure of disorder) and the Existence Equation Conjecture. What is the rationale behind this statement? First, time is a measure of change. Second, any change increases entropy in the universe. Thus, the universe’s disorderliness is increasing with time. If we argue the entropy of the universe was at a minimum the instant prior to the Big Bang—since it represented an infinitely dense-energy point prior to change—then all change from the Big Bang on, served to increase entropy. Even though highly ordered planets and solar systems formed, the net entropy of the universe increased. Thus, any change, typically associated with time, is associated with increasing entropy. This implies that the Existence Equation Conjecture may have a connection to entropy.

What does all of the above say about the nature of time? If we are on the right track, it says describing the nature of time requires six crucial elements, all of which are simultaneously true.

1. Time is change. (This is true, even though it was not true in our “thought experiment” of an isolated atom at absolute zero. As mentioned above, it is not possible for any object to reach absolute zero. The purpose of the thought experiment was to illustrate the concept of “existence” separate from “change.”)
2. Time is a measure of energy, since change requires energy.
3. Time is a measure of existence. (The isolated atom, at absolute zero, enables us to envision existence separate from change.)
4. Movement in time (or existence) requires negative energy.
5. The energy to fuel time (existence) is enormous. It may be responsible for the life times associated with unstable elementary particles, essentially consuming them, in part, to satisfy the Existence Equation Conjecture. It may be drawing energy from the universe (dark energy). If correct, it provides insight into the nature of dark energy. Essentially the negative energy we call dark energy is required to fuel existence (please see my posts: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe – Parts 1-4).
6. Lastly, the enormousness changes in entropy, creating chaos in the universe, may be the price we pay for time. Since entropy increases with change, and time is a measure of change, there appears to be a time-entropy relationship. In addition, entropy proceeds in one direction. It always increases when change occurs. The directional alignment, and the physical processes of time, suggests a relationship between time and entropy.

This view of time is speculative, but fits the empirical observations of time. A lot of the speculation rests on the validity of the Existence Equation Conjecture. Is it valid? As shown in appendix 2 of Unraveling the Universe’s Mysteries (2012) and appendix 2 of How to Time Travel (2013), it is entirely consistent with data from a high-energy particle-accelerator experiment involving muons moving near the speed of light. The experimental results agree closely with predictions of the Existence Equation Conjecture (within 2%). This data point is consistent with the hypothesis that adding kinetic energy can fuel the energy required for existence. The implications are enormous, and require serious scientific scrutiny. I published the Existence Equation Conjecture in the above books to disseminate information, and enable the scientific scrutiny.

The Existence Equation Conjecture represents a milestone. If further evaluation continues to confirm the validity of the Existence Equation Conjecture, we have a new insight into the nature of time. Existence (movement in time) requires enormous negative energy. The Existence Equation Conjecture, itself, provides insight into the physical processes underpinning time dilation (i.e., why time slows down when a mass is moving close to the speed of light or is in a high gravitational field). It answers the question why a subatomic particle’s life increases with the addition of kinetic or gravitational energy. It offers a solution path to a mystery that has baffled science since 1998, namely the cause of the accelerated expansion of the universe (please see my posts: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe – Parts 1-4). Lastly, it may contain one of the keys to time travel.

In the next post (part 2), we will explore what the technological singularity and the post singularity world in our quest to determine if time has meaning in the post singularity world.