In rebus mathematicis errores quan minimi non sunt contemnendi
Bishop George Berkeley

Two modes of time: Biocausality

D. Chakalov1,

It is conjectured that the psychological time arrow, endowed with a finite duration of subjective 'now', is a mental reflection (qualia) from some 'universal time arrow'. Two modes of time, called global and local, are suggested for constructing the putative universal time arrow in such a way that a new kind of retarded causality (called biocausality) would match the causal chain of events in the psychological time arrow. The idea of biocausality is based on the assumption that in the case of living matter the future events are determined jointly by past events and their spectrum of anticipated (feedforwarded) potential events, as accommodated in the finite duration 'now' in the universal time arrow. An attempt has been made at suggesting a conceptual solution to the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, under the stipulation that the hypothetical universal time arrow does produce quantum effects such as superposition and entanglement in the quantum realm, resembling the potential events in the psychological time arrow. Hence a fully deterministic, brain-like behavior of quantum systems seems possible to exist, although it can not be observed with inanimate measuring devices: the apex in Minkowski's cone can not hold more than one event, while the human brain can sustain a finite duration 'now' during its lifetime. Stated differently, the price for restoring the notion of reality for the quantum realm, in line with Einstein's dictum "God casts the die, not the dice", is that of considering the staggering possibility that the quantum theory of measurements may have been conceived with an artifact due to the point-like presentation of the instant 'now' valid for inanimate matter only. Hence the main ideas proposed can be summarized as follows.

The correct geometrical presentation of the infinitesimal is not that of a dimensionless mathematical point (cf. Bishop Berkeley). It has a structure delineated with two modes of time, global and local. The effect of the global mode of time is vanishing small for inanimate matter at the scale of the macro-world, and increases toward micro and mega-scales. The manifestation of this effect consists of  (i)  a new structure of spacetime permitting extended 'now', as in the case of living and quantum matter (no "collapse"), and  (ii)  a point-like projection of values of physical quantities in the past light cone of the universal time arrow. The latter serves as the physical basis of the psychological time arrow, and reconciles the requirements of extended duration 'now' with the transient point-like snapshots (called jackets) of physical reality, represented with real numbers and observed only in our past light cone, in line with the new retarded causality in the universal time arrow, called biocausality. Thus, we may have extended, not "point-like", quantum particles living on a finite duration 'now', separated from their seemingly point-like observable values cats in their past light cone only. The dynamics of the universal time arrow permits a peaceful co-existence between quantum reality being extended in time and space on a finite duration 'now' with the point-like snapshots from it, as suggested by Plato. Hence the interpretation of Heisenberg principle as flexibility (not uncertainty): a peaceful co-existence of non-commuting observables living on extended 'now' with their point-like snapshots cast in the past light cone, one at a time. Mother Nature makes this possible only with the dynamics of the universal time arrow. It is like riding a bike: if you stop, you will fall. However, physical measurements performed with inanimate (dead) measuring devices can provide actual information about a singular, point-like snapshot only, which inevitably freezes the universal time arrow (cf. the artifact in the quantum theory of measurements mentioned above) and the potential states living on a finite duration 'now' need to be dropped down on the spacetime hypersurface, which causes enormous conceptual problems, such as Lorentz invariant nonlocality and the definition of "curvature" in Einstein's GR. In order to couple gravity to quantum fields and to reveal the physics of the human brain, we need a universal time arrow. Dead matter makes quantum jumps; the living-and-quantum matter is smarter.

Wednesday, 19 June 2002

Prepared for NATO Advanced Research Workshop The Nature of Time: Geometry, Physics & Perception (Tatranska Lomnica, Slovak Republic, May 21-24, 2002),

Note: The task of squeezing the paper into seven pages, as required by the Publisher, is insurmountable. The volume of information needed for a clear and comprehensive presentation of the main ideas would triple the allowed size. Read about this very tough challenge here. To read the draft version cancelled for these reasons, click here.

The introductory section of the paper (draft version) can be read below.

1Permanent address:
Dimiter G. Chakalov
Box 13
BG-1415 Sofia, Bulgaria
Phone 00359-2-986-56-62 and 00359-2-967-13-27

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I. Introduction

There is an anecdotal story about David Hilbert that he had been advising his collaborators to test their ideas before writing a paper by going out in the street, stop the very first person they see, and kindly explain to her/him the basic idea. If the person understands it, they may proceed with writing a paper.

Well, si non e vero e bene trovato. Let me try to explain the main ideas in this paper as if I am talking to a stranger on the street: we measure things like length, volume, etc. with real numbers which are presented with points from a numerical axis, and hence we can suppose that the nature of reality from which we get these points is not necessarily "point-like". It could be extended in time and space as well, in which case we may need two different modes of reality, extended and point-like. If so, the only possible way to have them is by a universal time arrow which would link them by allowing the future to pass into the past and become "point-like", and would separate them by an instant 'now'.

However, the passage of the future into the past (the phenomenon of transience) is not temporal at all, hence we need to introduce a special gap into this universal time arrow, which we can not physically observe due to the "speed" of light. The idea about such gap can be traced back to Eastern mysticism, particularly the idea about Zen. As explained eloquently by Chuang-Tzu: Before Zen, a tree is a tree and a mountain is a mountain. During Zen, a tree is not a tree and a mountain is not a mountain. After Zen, a tree is again a tree and a mountain is again a mountain. Thus, we need two modes of time: global mode for the future and for the gap, and local mode for the past. The content of the future and the past changes along the universal time arrow: Panta rei (Heraclitus). What does not change and hence make the world stable is the content of the gap: Platonic ideas, universals, and Jungian archetypes. One can only speculate that the content of the gap comes from God [John 1:1-4] examined as 'absolute reality'.

I hope this would be clear enough to a stranger on the street.

Reality can not be proved. It can only be postulated. I will try here to postulate a new (to physics) kind of reality, called 'potential reality', which can exist in a special dual form: both extended in time and space and "collapsed" in a point-like projection. Hence the potential reality includes the physical reality localized in the past, which we can physically observe and perform measurements on it, the result of which is presented with real numbers. I will argue that the potential reality is a broader case of reality, in the sense that it can effectively shrink to the "dimensions" of an infinitesimal, in which case it will be practically indistinguishable from the localized, point-like snapshots constituting the physical reality. In this limiting case, however, we can not zoom on the instant 'now' and can not reveal the nature of time: the future and the past are indiscernible, being fused into the infinitesimal. Starting from this limiting case, we can suppose that the structure of spacetime is effectively point-like only at the macro-scale of tables and chairs, and only for inanimate matter. If so, there should be another limiting case of potential reality being extremely extended in time and space, in which case its localized, point-like form would refer to the "edges" of physical reality at the "boundaries" of the physical world, in micro and mega scales.

Next, I will attribute two modes of time to the potential reality: global mode for the case of potential reality being extended in time and space, and local mode for the case of potential reality being localized as physical reality. It is conjectured that the former mode of potential reality occupies the potential future of a putative universal time arrow, while the latter mode refers to the irreversible past of the same arrow. Hence the potential reality can exist only by means of a universal time arrow in which the instant 'now' separates the potential future from the irreversible past. I will argue that the potential reality is needed for explaining the phenomenon of transience and the nature of time as a sequence of snapshots, and for suggesting a new form of retarded causality, called biocausality. The latter is applicable to both living and quantum matter. Due to the upper limit of the speed of transmitting signals, which can not exceed the speed of light in vacuum, we can physically observe the world only post factum. Thus, the mode of potential reality as extended in time and space, living in the potential future of the universal time arrow, is physically unobservable. Physically, we can observe only some point-like snapshots, only the "localized" mode of potential reality, and only in the past light cone, like "shadows on Plato's cave".

I will try to use these ideas for suggesting conceptual solutions to the following tasks:

1. The enigma of time, as explained by St. Augustine in his "Confessions": "How can the past and future be when the past no longer is and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time but eternity."

2. The paradox of transience: to explain the notion of time, we refer to the notion of space, such as a sequence of spatial states of a system, which are both separated and linked, like a sequence of snapshots from a film tape. The latter two requirements are met by Mother Nature in a way which defies our intuition and the Aristotelian logic, as based on our experience from the macro-world of tables and chairs around us, since we can think of things being either continual or discrete (hence the first Zeno paradox and the notion of infinitesimal).

3. The dynamics of the human brain: we can anticipate our potential states before reaching them, without any causal pathologies resulting from such feedback from the potential future. This is essential for bootstrapping all anatomical structures in the human brain as a holistic system.

4. The nature of quantum nonlocality and quantum holism, and conceptual solutions to the measurement problem in standard Quantum Mechanics (QM) and the violation of causality in General Relativity (chronology protection conjecture). In general terms, the conflict between quantum physics and gravity requires a novel approach to the geometry of spacetime.

The structure of the paper is as follows. In Section II, I will elaborate on the first two tasks above. Section III deals with the third task and offers an explanation of Ulric Neisser's cognitive cycle. In Section IV, I will try to address the fourth task with an interpretation of Heisenberg relations as 'flexibility for providing physical reality', and will suggest a brain-like determinism in the quantum realm, which is hidden to observations performed with inanimate devices (hence possible artifacts in the quantum theory of measurements). Finally, I will examine in Section V some tentative implications for quantum gravity, along the lines suggested by Chris Isham (type-IV scheme) first in 1986: the global mode of time shows up as some pseudo-time in Cramer's interpretation of QM and as some "proper time" (tau), and hence the task boils down to elaborating a new theory of creating a "preferred" spacetime foliation at each and every instant 'now' from the universal time arrow. It is conjectured that this creative mechanism is facilitated by two worlds with inverted spacetime basis in the global mode of time, "between" the spacetime "points". It is also elevated, "in the same time", in the potential future of the universal time arrow, producing a finite (not point-like) duration 'now' accommodating the potential reality.

The acute need for new ideas for spacetime geometry has been recognized some thirty years ago by C.W. Misner, K.S. Thorne and J.A. Wheeler (Gravitation, W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, 1973, p. 819): "No prediction of spacetime, therefore no meaning for spacetime is the verdict of the Quantum Principle. That object which is central to all of Classical General Relativity, the four dimensional spacetime geometry, simply does not exist, except in a classical approximation."

To sum up, I will argue that if we use, after Niels Bohr, the language and the terminology of classical physics for interpreting the quantum world, we are destined to a dead-end. To understand the postulates in QM introduced 'by hand', which make QM a highly successful calculation tool eluding any intuitive understanding, we need a brand new kind of reality, potential reality, and subsequently the language and the terminology of potential reality. This is the first step toward elucidating the geometry of spacetime, and it can be derived from the physics of the human brain. There is no need for any psychological concepts whatsoever. Just the physics of human brain, a hot wet piece of matter which has the ability to act on itself. It can be proved, contrary to widespread beliefs in physics literature, that the human brain is not some computer, and hence the only assumption made here is that there are no ghosts or any other mystical agents operating in our brains while staying fully detached from the physical world.

As stated lucidly by A. Peres (Existence of "Free Will" as a Problem of Physics, Found. Phys. 16(6) 573 (1986), p. 580): "We work as if the world could be dissected into small independent pieces. This is an illusion, because, as Bell's theorem shows, the entire world is interdependent. But there is no other way of working. (...) One may speculate whether, in a complete description of the whole Universe, including our brains, determinism would be restored."

Investigating the possibility for restoring the determinism in physics, by including the physics of the human brain in our Weltbild, is the scope of this paper: God casts the die, not the dice (Albert Einstein).

Wednesday, 19 June 2002

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Subject: Re: Preparation of the proceedings
Date: Sat, 04 May 2002 02:27:02 +0300
From: "Dimiter G. Chakalov" <>
To: Rosolino Buccheri <>
CC: Mark Stuckey <>, Metod Saniga <>, Simon Grondin <>
References: 1,2,3,4

Dear Professor Buccheri,

Thank you for your reply from Fri, 3 May 2002 15:28:34 +0200.

> So, please, forget 23 pages, because this size will not be
> accepted. Thank you.

Regrettably, I am not able to squeeze my paper into 7 pages. I'm afraid it will be incomprehensible.

Physicists think of the brain as some "information gathering and utilizing system" (Gell-Mann and Hartle) or computer (e.g., S. Hawking, "A Brief History of Time", Bantam Books, 1988, pp. 163-164). I know how difficult is to explain Neuroscience 101 to physicists, my first effort was more than 15 years ago, on February 5, 1987.

Please delete my name from the list of participants. Thank you.

I wish you and all your colleagues a pleasant and fruitful conference.

Sincerely yours,

D. Chakalov

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