The fascinating new theory claims that time does not move forward, but rather, everything in time is ever-present.
According to the theory put forward by Dr. Bradford Skow, an associated professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), if we were to ‘look down’ upon the universe, we would see time spread out in all directions, just as we see space at the moment.
‘When you ask people, “Tell me about the passage of time,” they usually make a metaphor,’ he said. ‘They say time flows like a river, or we move through time like a ship sailing through the sea.’
Another theory states that the present is a ‘spotlight’ that moves from the past to the future, with us being located in the spotlight as it moves forward.
Dr. Skow, however, said he ‘wouldn’t want to believe in that unless I saw good arguments for it.’ Rather, he favors a theory known as the ‘block universe’, which states that the past, present and future already exist.
Dr. Skow said that he does not think events sail past us and vanish forever – instead, they exist in different parts of space-time. ‘The block universe theory says you’re spread out in time, something like the way you’re spread out in space,’ Dr. Skow said.
‘We’re not located at a single time.’ Instead he says we are in a ‘temporarily scattered’ condition.
He asserts that our passage through space-time is not like a spotlight – and the experiences you had yesterday, last week, or even years ago are all real. But he says time travel between the different times is not possible, as we are now in a different part of space-time.
His theory follows another proposed by Dr. Julian Barbour of College Farm in the UK, Dr. Tim Koslowski of the University of New Brunswick in Canada and Dr. Flavio Mercati of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, also in Canada, back in December. They proposed that at the moment of the Big Bang, a ‘mirror universe’ to our own was created that moves in the opposite direction through time – and intelligent beings in each one would perceive the other to be moving backwards through time.
Their research attempts to answer questions that remain about the ‘arrow of time’ – which is the concept that time is ‘symmetric’ and everything moves forwards.
They say that at the time of the Big Bang not one but two universes formed – both moving equally in each direction through time, but opposite to each other.
This universe would not be exactly the same as ours, though; it would have evolved and changed in its own way, completely separate to our own.
However, it would be subject to the same laws of physics, so it would likely have planets, stars and galaxies just like in our version of the cosmos.
And Dr. Barbour said that the theory could open up a new way to think about the Big Bang. ‘At the moment when people talk about the Big Bang, they more or less throw their hands up in despair and say they can’t say what happened,’ he said.
‘Now our work is beginning to suggest we can actually say more than people thought.’
Which theory of time proves to be correct, though – Dr Skow’s block universe, the mirror universe or perhaps another – remains to be seen.