From: Dimi Chakalov <>
To: Joy Christian <>
Cc: Jeremy Butterfield <>, Abner Shimony <>
Subject: The objective world cannot simply *be*, it can only *happen*
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 18:15:37 -0000

Dear Joy,

I hope you remember your last email two years ago. I wrote you that I still cannot understand your theory [Ref. 1], to which you replied (I'm quoting from memory) "you don't have to understand it, Dimi".

I'm obviously very stupid, since I again could not understand your new paper [Ref. 2]. You wrote: "To parody Weyl quoted above, the objective world cannot simply *be*, it can only *happen*."

Q1: If you genuinely believe that you can describe a 'flow of time' and introduce the conception of 'becoming', can you suggest a relativistic "collapse" of an entangled state, as in the EPR argument?

Q1.1: If you can, it won't be a "collapse" but some (unknown to me) kind of transition from 'potentialities' into 'one actual state', correct?

Q1.2: Can you sustain a continual probability current in that transition?

Q1.3: Can you *derive* the Born rule or any new similar rule in your theory, and hence shed some light on the nature of probabilities in QM and the actualization of potentialities ?

Q2: Is there a room in your theory for the Aristotelian First Cause, which is in absolute rest, having 'no place left to go', and is also the ultimate Unmoved Mover of the flow of time?

Q2.1: Do you need an absolute reference frame w.r.t.w. you can talk about the flow of time?

Q3: What does Jeremy Butterfield think about your ideas?

BTW I fully support the statement in the subject line, for a bit different reasons,

With kindest regards to you and Abner,

Dimi Chakalov
35 Sutherland St
London SW1V 4JU


[Ref. 1] Joy Christian, Why the Quantum Must Yield to Gravity,

[Ref. 2] Joy Christian, Passage of Time in a Planck Scale Rooted Local Inertial Structure, gr-qc/0308028 v2, 21 January 2004,

"One of the oldest issues in natural philosophy is 'the problem of change' [20]. Since the days of Aristotle, physics has been tremendously successful in explaining how the changes occur in the world, but largely oblivious to the deeper question of why do they occur at all. The situation has been aggravated by the advent of Einstein's theories of spacetime, since in these theories there is no room to accommodate a structural distinction between the past and the future [21] -- a prerequisite for a true understanding of why the changes occur in the world. By contrast, the causal structure of the proposed theory below not only naturally distinguishes the future form the past, but also forbids inaction altogether, thereby providing an answer to the deeper question of change.

"Since the proposed theory naturally quantifies the motion of the present moment (or 'now') along timelike world-lines of observers, what we have is an experimentally verifiable complete theory of the local inertial structure that captures the 'flow of time' as a genuine attribute of the world.

"Moreover, this new conception of time dispels, at a stroke, the spell of the 'block' view of time [20], which is widely thought to be an inevitable byproduct of Einstein's special relativity. According to this 'block' view, since in the Minkowski picture time is as 'laid out' a priori as space, and since space clearly does not seem to 'flow', what we perceive as a 'flow of time', or 'becoming', must be an illusion. Worse still, in Einstein's theory, the relativity of simultaneous events demands that what is 'now' for one inertial observer cannot be the same, in general, for another. Therefore, to accommodate 'nows' of all possible observers, events must exist a priori, all at once, across the whole span of time [36]. As Weyl once so aptly put it, "The objective world simply is, it does not happen" [37]. Einstein himself was quite painfully aware of this shortcoming of his theories of relativity -- namely, of their inability to capture the continual slipping away of the present moment into the unchanging past [38]. To be sure, the alleged unreality of this transience of 'now', as asserted by the 'block' view of time, is far from being universally accepted (see, e.g., [2, 39, 40]). However, what remains unquestionable is the fact that there is no explicit assimilation of such a transience in any of the established theories of fundamental physics.

"By contrast, in the present theory, where proper time is defined by (30), the 'block' view of time endorsed by Weyl cannot be sustained. For time is now as much a 'state dependent' attribute of the world as states are time dependent attributes, and as the states of the world do 'happen' and 'become', so does time.

"Crucially, since the 4-velocity of an observer can never vanish, the lower bound on the above rate shows that not only the 'now' moves, but it cannot not move. To parody Weyl quoted above, the objective world cannot simply *be*, it can only *happen*.

"Thus, in the present theory, not only does the external 'now' move along timelike world-lines, but there does not remain even an overall 'block' -- such as a 'static' space (E, e) -- that could be used to support a 'block' view of time. That is to say, the new conception of 'becoming' embedded in the structure (E, e) is truly Heraclitean [20].

"Given the refined local inertial structure embedded in the quadratic invariant (30), the next natural challenge, of course, is to understand how this new structure refines the classical -- and, indeed, the quantum -- conceptions of gravity as prescribed by the principle of equivalence. This challenge, with quite a broad understanding of the term 'quantum gravity', will be taken up and addressed fully in a companion paper."


Note: There is no explicit assimilation of the transience of 'now' in any of the established theories of fundamental physics, says Joy Christian. She also refers to R. Penrose's book The Emperorís New Mind, by asserting that, in order to "accommodate 'nows' of all possible observers, events must exist a priori, all at once, across the whole span of time [36]."

In a genuine Heraclitean world Panta rei, if something can carry the states of any physical system along a continual chain of 'nows', then the carrier itself must not change. But how could it not change? The simplest answer is the Aristotelian First Cause (cf. Q2 above), which is the fundamental form of reality: it is driven by itself, and exists without any parts, being the atom of Lucretius. We need it to get "points". This is a very old story.

Also, regarding the quote from R. Penrose above, "events must exist a priori, all at once, across the whole span of time": this is what the Holon is all about. It is utterly needed for the very existence of objects. Objects do not exist for zero time interval. They exist "for a while" (cf. Jeremy Butterfield, physics/0401112). Which brings us back to the transience of 'now'.

At this point physicists usually say 'I don't care about metaphysics, I do down-to-earth calculations', as if you could do calculations without "points".  Fuhgeddaboudit.

D. Chakalov
January 26, 2004