cloudy clock pictureSpace-Time Continuum - a thesis

by David Faige

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Purpose of this Thesis


Curvature of Space-Time


Time Travel

Suggested Time Travel Experiment

Purpose of this Thesis

This thesis does not cover the mathematics of the space-time continuum and its characteristics. Other individuals in academia have covered the mathematics very well. The purpose of this thesis, therefore, is to provide a visualization of the characteristics of the space-time continuum and offer directions for future discovery.

This is a work in progress. Certain elements require further discussion and I will make revisions to the text according to comments I receive.


A very simple definition: space and time considered together as one entity.

Mathematically: Einstein's field equation.

For simplicity's sake, this thesis uses the following definition for space-time continuum:

The space-time continuum is a collection of parametric specifications that attempt to define is. The specifications can be as single values and thus define a specific point in space-time, or they can be continuous and define an entire entity.

Curvature of Space-Time

It is well known that the space-time continuum is curved. The curvature occurs as a result of the influence of mass against movement in time. Recently, it has been possible to detect this curvature.

Space-Time Curvature.
Created by User:Johnstone using a 3D CAD software package and an image of planet earth from NASA's Galileo spacecraft. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

As three-dimensional beings, we perceive time only as a result of memory. We remember what was as a variable interval from what is now. If we had zero memory, we could not detect time - we would exist only for the moment. The result of this is our apparent perception of time as a linear line, always going forward.

Example of linear time:
Animation example of linear time.

This is similar to primitive peoples perceiving the Earth as flat. It could be infinite - the horizon always kept bringing something new no matter how far they traveled; or, it could be finite, in which case there was the risk of falling off the edge.

Note: The terms three-dimensional, fourth-dimensional, and any other references to dimension in regards to "beings" means only that the being can directly perceive that many dimensions. A three-dimensional being cannot directly perceive the fourth dimension; the three-dimensional being can only infer its existence. The fourth dimensional being can directly perceive the fourth dimension. However, almost all objects exist in all dimensions.

Important: a dimension does not need to be detected to exist. If we had no memory of the interval we label as "time," our existence in space-time would still occur.

In its simplest form, a curve, extended infinitely, becomes a circle (or, better yet, a sphere). A sphere, when looked at microscopically without precision, would appear as a flat surface, just like primitive people perceived the Earth. Only when enough of the Earth was explored and technology was developed adequately could the true form of Earth be determined. The same holds true for three-dimensional beings trying to grasp the dimension of time. We need to perceive/detect the macroscopic view in order to determine form.

For the initial attempts at perceiving something outside of our normal senses, precision is not necessary. Einstein stated that space is finite but time is infinite. The problem here is that infinite is not calculable. We need to make it finite in order to progress. We can do this for time.

For practical purposes, time for any given object (such as a particle, an atom, a molecule, a person, a planet, a star, a galaxy, a universe) begins from that object's coming into existence and ends when that object ceases to exist in that form. (Never mind the fact that energy cannot be destroyed, only changed in form. We are dealing here in non-precision in order to get a finite value for the initial attempts.) If the object's existence in time was linear, the object's existence might appear to a fourth-dimensional being as a sphere. However, to the third-dimensional being, time seems like a straight line going on forever. Both are correct from their individual points of reference. A fourth-dimensional being could traverse this time continuum simply by going from point A to point B, because that being can perceive that dimension. The third-dimensional being cannot.

Note: in this thesis, the term being is used in a symbolic way to denote an object that is aware of condition and change in environment - whatever that environment may be. As we are dealing with different dimensions, assuming that the term being refers to the human or humanoid form could lead to erroneous conclusions.

Objects whose X, Y, Z axis change (objects in motion) do not exist in time linearly. You cannot change your position in the X, Y, and Z axis without also changing your position in T in a nonlinear fashion. A perceived fixed object (a stone lying on the ground, a building, a mountain) does move as a consequence of movements through space (Earth orbital, geologic, etc.) and the force moving the object through time. So, even perceived fixed objects move within the space-time continuum - there are no true stationary objects.

Could a stasis field cause an object to cease moving in space-time? Nature abhors lack of motion just as much as it abhors a vacuum. A perfect stasis field might be difficult to achieve. Maybe an object might have its movement through space-time retarded to a more or less degree, depending on the success of generating a stasis field around the object.

Because existence in time is nonlinear, assuming a perfect sphere as the form of an object's existence in the fourth dimension is not correct. More likely, the object's existence might be as an ever changing stream. The whole of space-time could then be considered as bundles of streams intertwining, bundling, dispersing out, merging in. Or, the form may be a cloud with voids and dense areas. Ultimately, space-time could have a recognizable form, once perceived on a large scale.

However, for nonprecision calculation purposes, the best analogy of an object's existence in space-time is as a ball of yarn gradually increasing in size. There is a beginning (the object's coming into existence). The object continues to exist nonlinearly - the windings of the yarn gradually making the ball larger. The point here is at any given moment in the object's existence, time is finite. Always in motion and always with infinite possibilities. Yet, nonetheless finite when we do not require precision. And, even though the possibilities for that object are infinite, the object seldom strays from a certain mean - thus the ball of yarn analogy. For example, consider repetitive motions (routines, cycles). These motions repeat, but never precisely - just like adjacent strands in the ball of yarn.

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