What is Reality?
A Trace Universe
The Way of the Progression
The expression "the / this Universe" is used below to refer to anything that can be observed, and to a lesser degree to anything that may exist but can't be observed. Nothing can be determined about what can't be observed, but it will be implicitly presumed that it has the same rules as what can be observed.
This description of the Universe is not a new physics theory, and is not a new mathematical description. This description reorders the language in an attempt to remove as much observational bias and confusing language as possible, from the conversations about the Universe, while maintaining agreement with existing observations and physics theories. The result is a conceptual description of how the Universe works.
It's very difficult for people to understand what the Universe is because they are very bad at using precise language to identify and separate concepts, and because imprecise language persists virtually forever. The imprecise language leads to confusion, which creates an observational bias, which then combines with other observational biases to further degrade people's understanding of the Universe. Today, the language confusion is so bad that speaking about time has become a conversation about fiction rather than a clarifying one.
It's critical to understand that clarity of language brings clarity of thought, that precise language brings precise thought. People can't achieve their full logical potential without clear / precise language.
People colloquially use the words "space" and "time" in several ways, sometimes with contradictory meanings. Physics uses the same words to model the space and time properties of the Universe, but a rift has appeared between the colloquial usage and the physics usage of these words in relativistic physics.
When you will finish reading below about change and time, you will start to see that what you've already experienced about Reality is correct, although incomplete, that the main views that people have had so far about time are correct, although incomplete, when looking from different perspectives, even though they appear opposed: time is illusory and real, time is fundamental and emergent, time flows and doesn't, time is only one moment and many, time is personal and global, past and future are indistinguishable and different.
You will see that people have always known and used the concepts which make Reality, change and time, but they have never realized the connections among all the elements as a single unit, and have never put them all together in a progression that starts from the beginning of the Universe and evolves up to making the human mind. And while it's not possible to know what has caused the root cause of the Universe, the evolution of the Universe after that becomes conceptually clear.
The Universe that people perceive, with its entire content, including consciousness, intelligence and behavior, is an unknown mathematical equation, of unknown complexity, which forms a progression.
A progression is an iterative change that starts from a simple initial state and progresses / evolves following simple rules; "simple" means that in order to describe the initial state and the evolution rules, very little information is required when compared to the information which is required to describe an entire state (without using the progression).
The progression is deterministic, although there may be some randomness in it (in the form of quantum fluctuations).
Each next state is a continuation of the previous state. The next state can be determined (only) from the previous state, not computed from the initial state and the evolution rules.
The progression determines the arrow of time. The progression has only one way in which it can evolve.
A progression creates complexity with every iteration. Fractals are an example of a progression; they have very simple initial states but can create a virtually infinite variety of enormous complexity, following simple rules.
At every iteration, the progression transforms its current state into another state, but it also carries forth a partial representation of the state that it just transformed, representation called trace. Human memory is a type of trace.
The past is distinguishable from the future due to the presence of traces of the past in the current state. The past and future are not created by either the lack or the presence of traces.
Mathematical or natural
There is no way to make a distinction between a purely mathematical / simulated Reality and a natural / analog Reality, from the inside of the system / Reality, given the same level of detail. This means that no claim can be made that there is a distinction, although there is no certainty that there is no distinction. Therefore, it appears that mathematics is real, is what creates Reality in its entirety, but this doesn't mean that all of Reality is contained within this Universe. What created / caused mathematics is unknown.
Multidimensional space exists in mathematics, but there is no concept of time. This means that the distinction between a mathematical Reality and a natural one could be the fact that it appears that the progression evolves / progresses, that is, it's somehow enumerated and people perceive change. This means that the evolution of the progression is the only thing that can make something "real" for people. But why is this truly real and not something purely informational / mathematical / simulated? Is it really true that enumeration doesn't exist in mathematics, but only in Reality?
Consider a (computer) simulation made by people, similar to this Universe. What makes the simulation not real? For the "real" people, it's the knowledge that they've made the simulation and it can't interact with the outside world, unless it's designed for that, plus the lower level of detail of the simulation. But the people inside the simulation can't tell the difference between their Reality and the outside Reality. "Real" people would then say that the "simulated" people can't tell the difference, but there is a real world in which the simulation exists. But how can the "real" people tell whether they themselves are in a simulation or not? So, if you can't tell the difference, how can you claim that there is a difference? What exactly makes the difference?
Does this mean that a circle is real? What's the difference between a circle's reality and this Universe? A circle has its own reality, but a circle is not a progression, that is, it's not an iterated equation, which means that it is atemporal in its own reality, so for all intents and purposes it remains an abstraction.
This description of the Universe is called a Trace Universe because of two properties of traces which are among the most important properties of the Universe:
The observational bias makes people generally ignore all the invisible information, all the invisible combinations. Because of this, people end up believing that the Universe is magic / special / unique.
At this point it's probably virtually impossible for you to realize that what you see and perceive is not a fundamental property of the Universe, but only tools that people (and other mechanisms) use to simplify their interaction with the Universe.
To help with understanding this problem, here is a tool that people use to make sense of the Universe, tool that's relatively simple to explain: color. Color doesn't exist in the Universe. Are you surprised? Indeed, there is no color property of objects. Color is a composite of several elements.
The light which is emitted by a light source (like the sun) has a certain energy spectrum (containing a huge number of wavelengths). Some of this light is reflected by objects, but only very specific wavelengths of the light.
The eye, in its turn, can record the intensity of this reflected light only in three very specific wavelengths. The interaction of all these factors is processed by the brain and outputted (to the consciousness) as what people call color.
So, color is a not fundamental property of the Universe, yet people see it all the time around them, believing with all their being that color is a real property of the Universe.
Similarly, for example, time is a tool that people use to keep track of change, that is, it's not a fundamental property of the Universe.
Is Reality an illusion? No. Reality is real. The understanding that people have of Reality is incomplete, so the Reality that people think / thought of is an illusion, that is, it doesn't represent / describe it accurately. In other words, illusion doesn't mean not real / false / wrong, but incomplete.
Why is the Universe like this?
The only reason why you would ask this question is because you observe that structure and life are rare around you, so your observational bias makes you believe that nothingness is the default and only state of things. Since the Universe exists in spite of this belief, you think that magic is the only explanation for its existence, for structure, for life.
But the Universe has not issued an edict about anything, like rules saying that only nothingness may exist, or that something must exist, or that it is finite or infinite. Basically, the Universe has no predetermined rules. Therefore, both nothingness and existence, chaos and structure, finite and infinite, anything for that matter, may or may not be possible, with no guarantees of any kind.
It's your observational bias that creates rules which you believe that the Universe must follow. Extrapolating anything from what you see and saying that what you don't see must follow those rules is your observational bias.
The existence of the Universe is an indication that nothingness is not the only thing that can exist, that there can be something other than nothingness, like existence / presence, and also that the Universe has started to exist at some point. Your observational bias is that you can't see all the places / Universes where nothingness is the default state.
However, the default lack of nothingness and the existence / presence of something doesn't mean that absolutely anything can pop into existence out of nothing, only quanta can.
Whenever science will be able to describe the rules that make the Universe, it will only be able to describe what people can observe, not what is possible in all Universes. That description will say absolutely nothing about other Universes or what rules may or may not govern them. Even saying that the Universe has rules would be an observational bias, a desire to shape the Universe the way you want it to be: to have specific rules.
No matter how much science will try to determine the root cause that led to the existence of the Universe, it can only wander along an infinite loop of causality that must always be observationally confirmed. The only way to break this infinite loop is to observe that nothing deterministic can be observed beyond a certain point, that only acausal things can be observed.
Laws of physics
The laws of physics (and their equations) are patterns which describe how the Universe has been previously observed to work.
The laws of physics are spatially and temporally symmetric, that is, they appear to allow the Universe work with equal opportunity in either spatial direction, like left-right / back-forth, or temporal direction, like past-future, as if both space and time are absolute scenes in which objects can move free of any restriction.
But the laws of physics are not accurate descriptions of Reality. They are approximations of how the Universe works, and are the same type of unconstrained selection that free will is, that is, because people have previously observed that such approximations have worked either left or right, they believe that in the future either left or right could happen with equal opportunity.
In other words, the laws of physics describe some patterns / repetitions in the progression of the Universe, they do not describe the progression itself. In term of fractals, the laws describe relationships among the buds of the fractal, not the (progression of the) fractal itself. The equation of the progression of the Universe can't be found by measuring anything within the Universe, just like the equation of a fractal can't be found by measuring anything within the fractal. It might be found by brute force.
What will actually happen in the future must strictly follow the chain of causality all the way to the beginning of the Universe, that is, it must be part of the progression of the Universe.
For example, put an object in front of you, on the desk where you're reading this. Think about moving it either left or right; this is an unconstrained selection process called imagination. The equations of physics allow either movement. But that's only because those equations are unconstrained selection processes, that is, they are repetitions which have been observed to happen in the past, that is, they are descriptions of relationships among observed repetitions, not the rules which are producing those repetitions.
The direction in which the object will actually be moved will follow the chain of causality all the way to the beginning of the Universe, that is, the opportunities for it to be moved left or right are not equal. They are in fact 100% in one direction and 0% in the other, but nobody knows which is which due to the complexity of the progression / context.
The Universe is a progression of patterns.
The laws of physics are patterns, so everything in the Universe is made of patterns, not events, as it might be casually thought. Events are states in the progression of patterns, that is, they result from the evolution of the progression, from the interaction of patterns. This means that, unlike what is usually believed, the Universe didn't evolve out of randomness, but of precise patterns.
Patterns don't require complexity, they create it during their manifestation and interaction, with every iteration / state change. This process can be easily visualized in fractals which have very simple initial states but can create a virtually infinite variety of enormous complexity.
The patterns which have created the Universe had a very simple initial state, but have created an enormous complexity by building on existing patterns. Due to this complexity, people believe that the progression is random, or at least that it creates randomness. There is no event that happens without a chain of patterns leading to it.
In terms of physics, the patterns that make the Universe manifest as equations.
How did the Universe occur? How does an entire Universe pop out of nothingness?
The Universe has not popped into existence as complex as it is now. At some point, a root change occurred out of nothingness a brought a root pattern into existence. The root pattern is the progression that makes the Universe evolve at every state change. The root pattern is the root cause of everything in the Universe, that is, all change in the Universe is causally linked to it.
Why has this change occur? Why would it not occur, except for your belief that nothingness is the default state of the Universe? The Universe is the progression of this root pattern, that is, it has lead to the Universe that you can observe, to the Universe in which you can ask "Why is the Universe like this?"
Let's put this in different words. It's impossible to know what is the cause of these changes (= the progression of change) because this cause is outside the Universe. For all intents and purposes it can be said that there is no cause for the progression of change, and that it has appeared out of nothingness.
There is nothing special about the Universe. It's just the only one that you can observe. There may have been many other changes that you know nothing about, that you can't observe, that may have either led to many other different Universes, or that have led nowhere. There may have been an infinite number of changes, or there may have been only the one that made this Universe.
Why does the Universe have this form? Because of nothing special. It's just one form out of any number of possible forms. It just happened to be this form. It could have been anything else. Right now there may be countless different forms of Universes where other forms of life ask the same question (even though those life forms are all fundamentally different from the ones from this Universe), or where nobody asks such a question because those Universes can't sustain any structure or any life form that could ask such a question.
After these rules have occurred out of nothingness, the Universe has started to progress step by step. New patterns have started to build on existing patterns, reusing them, that is, things started to lead to more complex things. Why does this happen? Because it's much easier to reuse than to build everything from the beginning, which means that anything new that follows the existing patterns is much more successful and survives for much longer, so what remains after a long time are only the combinations that have worked for a long time. It's hard to realize this because the failed attempts (of new patterns to not build on existing patterns) are not visible.
Determinism and indeterminism
The progression of the Universe is deterministic from its beginning. The laws of physics of the Universe are deterministic, but the Universe also contains some quantum fluctuations, which are indeterministic. Despite its small momentary effect, this indeterminism can lead to dramatically divergent future states of the Universe due to the butterfly effect.
Determinism means that there is only one way the progression will evolve, no matter how many times it would be restarted. This means that if the progression starts with the exact same initial state, it produces the exact same result every time it's restarted.
Indeterminism means that some (apparent) randomness affects Reality at every moment in time, so that no state can be exactly determined from another state, even given all the information about it, so the Universe is not predetermined (from its beginning).
In practice it's impossible to make a long term accurate simulation of the Universe, or even of a small part of it, due to:
Since both determinism and indeterminism / randomness are outside people's control, there is no free will.
While there may be multiple Universes, each Universe may have different initial states or different rules, compared to any other Universe, that is, the Universes might not share common properties because Reality has not issued any edict about any property being common for all Universes. In fact, all these Universes might not even share the space-time that this Universe exists in.
This description of Reality doesn't require multiple simultaneous Universes in order to explain the laws of physics. The multiple Universes could be sequential.
Believing that this Universe is the only one there can be is the same observational bias that gave birth to religions and philosophies that wanted there to be only one world, one life ecosystem, one intelligent species, one winner, one truth, one people holding the truth, one religion, and one god. Such a belief in the magic of uniqueness is the most fundamentally irrational thought that humankind obsessively holds on to.
What is the Universe specifically made of?
From what is currently known, at the fundamental level the Universe is made of several fundamental properties that can interact among them, properties known as fields.
A field is never empty, that is, it lacks nothingness by default, that is, some presence may exist in it. This is observed through quantum fluctuations. This happens by nothingness splitting in two quanta that move away from one another, quanta that have equal energies, but of opposite signs, which total 0; therefore, in total, the Universe has 0 energy.
Example 1: This planet / Universe appears to be fine tuned for life
This is an observational bias.
This planet / Universe is not fine tuned for life, it simply made it possible for people to live and make such a statement. This has happened with 100% certainty, as people can be observed to make such a statement. On a planet without people, this statement can't be made, also with 100% certainty.
Therefore, this statement can be made and not made on the two planets with no degree of uncertainty or difficulty. The only thing that can be inferred is that this is (the) one planet where life has occurred (in spite of all the difficulties).
In other words, this planet must already have had all the properties that are required for life to have survived for so long, in order for people to be able to make this statement. The planets where this didn't happen, didn't produce life that could make this statement.
Let's say that you were able to determine that it is extremely difficult for life to exist on a planet, something like 1 in a billion. This would still be the one planet with people on it, which means that all the other planets should not have life, but you can't observe that (yet). If several of the other planets were to contain life in spite of this low probability, it would not mean that something magical has happened, but that the probability was wrongly determined without having all the observations (= planets with life), that is, unless you can prove the existence of a magic-creating edict issued by the Universe.
At some point people may be able to determine such a probability for the planets in the Universe, but they will be able to do so only based on observation, not on any edict issued by the Universe. And the only consequence for this planet would still be that it is one of those planets that have life, not that it is fine tuned for life.
This kind of description is know as the Anthropic principle.
Example 2: Seriously, just why is the Universe like this?
Here is the most basic explanation.
Consider that there are countless Universes, not necessarily at the same time, each having an apparent random form, except this one which is visible to people.
A random form can look like absolutely anything, including something structured like this Universe, although the overwhelming majority of such forms appear to people like a mess, like nothing useful.
Now, the overwhelming majority of Universes have not evolved life, due to their mess of a structure.
However, this Universe, has had the necessary structure that could evolve life forms that can ask such a question. It could have been any of the other Universes, there is nothing to identify this Universe in a special way, that is, no X marks this Universe. You identify it in a special way because you, the observer, are in it and you can only see it. You can't be in any other Universe because the others can't sustain life, and even if they could, you would still be in only one of them and could not see the others.
So, the problem that confuses you is the observational bias, that is, the fact that you can't see all the other Universes, so you can't see how common are the attempts where the Universes try to create life but can't because not all the requirements for life align properly in them.
Anything that happens in the Universe is a change of the state of a quantum within any property of the Universe, like in space-time.
A state transforms into another state only through a state change, or in short, through a change. Any change that happens in the Universe, including a reversal of change, happens only through a (new) state change.
The Universe contains only one manifested / real state, called current state. Only the current state exists / manifests, not any previous state, nor any next state.
Since there is only one current state, it's irrelevant what the state of each quantum in the entire the Universe is "at the same time".
Change of a quantum has several properties:
Change is sequential.
Change happens from one state to the next: one change, then the next, then the next, with no regard for what has been before the current state. States which are not the current state can be previous states, next states in the progression of change, or states that will never be the current state.
Be very careful with the language: change is sequential, but there is no sequence of states or state changes that is stored by the Universe, so there is no back / forward movement in such a sequence; it could be said that change is a sequence with a single manifesting element: the current state.
This means that change is unidirectional and the reversal of change acts exactly like any other change, through a new state change.
To greatly simplify the understanding and communication of time as a coordinate system, change can be treated as happening within a virtual sequence, where each state and state change has an index. However, it's important to note that quanta doesn't move within this sequence, but progresses / evolves sequentially.
Only the current state exists / manifests, not any previous state, nor any next state.
Previous states may be distinguishable from the current state due to traces, so a change reversal may also be distinguishable due to traces.
Change is a progression.
A progression is an iterative change that starts from a simple initial state and progresses / evolves following simple rules; "simple" means that in order to describe the initial state and the evolution rules, very little information is required when compared to the information which is required to describe a state without using the progression.
The progression of change is deterministic. The evolution of the progression can happen only one way: from one state to the next.
Each next state is a continuation of the previous state.
The sequentiality and continuity of the progression produce causality, that is, a state of the progression will always cause (/ lead to) the next state.
In mathematics, there are progressions in which any state can be determined from the initial state, based on the index of the iteration. However, the progression of the Universe appears to be irreducible to a simpler mechanism, and this means that a state can be determined only from the previous state, not from the initial state.
The next state can be determined (only) from the previous state. The previous state can be only partially determined from the next state, that is, the progression is not fully reversible (just like a hash in cryptography which can be reversed only by brute forcing it).
A progression creates complexity with every iteration. Fractals are an example of a progression; they have very simple initial states but can create a virtually infinite variety of enormous complexity, following simple rules.
What people see around them is not the rules of the progression which has lead to the current state, but the (trace of the entire) current state of the Universe.
A special kind of change is the one that loops among a few states, and is special because it doesn't require energy to occur; oscillations are an example.
Property: Frame of reference
Change has a frame of reference.
A quantum can change in its internal frame of reference, and in its external frame of reference (change which is known as movement in space).
Change is consistent across state changes and across frames of reference, for a specific kind of quatum.
The same kind of quatum goes through the same number of state changes, regardless of the index in the "sequence" of change and of the frame of reference.
Change isn't necessarily consistent over multiple kinds of quantum. This means that while one kind of quatum A may go through 10 state changes, another kind of quatum B may go through 11 state changes. While this means that change happens faster for B than for A, it doesn't mean that time passes faster for B. For time to pass faster / slower, change has to happen faster / slower for the same kind of quantum, not for a different kind, because absolute time doesn't exist.
Change consistency is why clocks in the same frame of reference indicate equal time intervals, and why physical processes always appear the happen in the same way when observed from within the frame of reference where they happen.
Cadence is a geometric property of Reality, over which change happens in space-time (and even in other properties of Reality). More specifically, this will be called time-cadence (= cadence of change in time).
In more colloquial terms, cadence is the rate / "speed" with which change happens in space-time.
Cadence is relative to a frame of reference, and is separate for the internal and external frames of reference of a quantum.
Change can happen at different cadences, which, for example, means that clocks can indicate different time intervals in different frames of reference.
If the cadence in the external frame of reference is affected, then the cadence in the internal frame of reference is affected in the same way.
There are two possible interpretations of cadence:
To understand the possibility of each interpretation, consider the analogy of getting in a car and driving from point A to point B. What got you to your destination: velocity or acceleration? You could say velocity, but without acceleration how could you achieve a velocity?
Cadence changes due to the following factors:
When time is slowed down in a frame reference S, change remains consistent, so a second in S always contains the same number of state changes, but since the spatial travel length of quanta becomes longer, a longer time-cadence is required for change (like a clock's tick) to happen. This means that an external observer from a frame reference X sees a clock tick from S happening over more state changes of a clock from X, meaning that a second from S equals more than a second in X (so the time in S is slowed down compared to the time in X).
When observed from the internal frame of reference, change appears to happen normally, so time appears to pass normally, because all the changes in the internal frame of reference have (nearly) the same time-cadence, so both a clock and an internal observer's perception have (nearly) the same time-cadence, so the observer sees the clock progressing as usual, in the same number of state changes.
To exemplify the time-cadence, consider that there are two identical frames of reference A and B, so that while A goes through 10 state changes, B goes through the same number of state changes, so change happens with the same time-cadence (= time passes the same way). Then consider that B is subjected to a high gravitational field for 10 state changes (counted in B), after which the gravitational field stops. While B was subjected to the gravitational field, A went through 15 state changes. This means that the time was slowed down for B, relative to A.
Time, as colloquially understood, is formed by chaining together all the state changes (/ clock ticks), each with its own time-cadence, that occur between two events. The reason why time works correctly in the relativistic equations (as a dimension) is that time is a linear composition of the time-cadence, that is, it's a simple chaining of the time-cadences of each state change / clock tick.
See Mathematics of cadence for details.
Quantum of time
There doesn't appear to be any constraint that would mandate the existence of a quantum of time.
The duration of a state change is precisely and exactly one state change. In other words, there is no such thing as a state change duration. To make a metaphor, the entire life of the Universe so far could have happened in the blink of an eye of a mythical god.
A second is defined (by people) as a fixed number of state changes of a certain kind of change.
Since the second is defined as a number of state changes, it's relative to the frame reference and it always has the same number in every frame of reference, which means that it's not an absolute unit of the Universe; remember that cadence is relative to a frame of reference.
Due to quantum uncertainty, the Planck time is the smallest time interval during which change can be observed.
A quantum of time may very well exist, just not in the sense of time duration, but in the sense of a single, fundamental state change.
States and state changes have no and need no simultaneity within a global "sequence" of the Universe.
Since there is no sequence of states or state changes, states don't have a specific index in the "sequence" of states, and there is no start index in the "sequence", but it's possible to count the number of state changes (for each quantum) between states. The same is true for state changes.
The states of different quanta are not synchronized within a global "sequence" of the Universe, that is, they are not synchronized in time (since there is no fundamental time). The same is true for state changes.
To people, change of nearby quanta appears to happen simultaneously because a single state change is extremely fast when compared to anything that people can observe, so any missynchronization between the state changes of various quanta goes unnoticed. Moreover, it's impossible to observe anything smaller / faster than a state change, so it's impossible to observe missynchronization between state changes.
Change is a fundamental property of the Universe.
Change exists / manifests / is real / is present.
A quantum exists / manifests / is real, in the current state, because it either changes its state (in either its internal or external frame of reference), or has a static (= non-changing) property (like mass). If a quantum doesn't change and lacks any static property, it ceases to exist.
In the progression of change, only the current state exists / manifests, not any previous state, nor any next state.
A trace is an approximation of a previous state, that is, it's a previous state of a lower resolution than the original previous state, an incompletely measurable previous state.
A trace is information encoded in some quanta about some other quanta's previous state. A trace is always separate from the source it represents, so it indicates the presence of something else situated at a distance in space and time (whether it still exists or not).
A previous state can sometimes be decoded from the trace it created during a state change, even though with a lower resolution than the original (previous state).
The progression of change forms traces, sometimes.
A trace is not a specific particle, but force carrying particles (= gauge bosons) are an example of traces. Even the direct contact / interaction of atoms is an action at a distance among electrons through force carrying particles (normally, photons), while they are kept apart (= can't occupy the same space) by the Pauli exclusion principle.
The current state of the Universe includes traces of its previous states. To clarify, the past states (/ past) don't exist simultaneously with the current state (/ present), only traces of the past states exist within the current state.
Traces degrade at every state change through the progression of change and through the expansion of space. Since the progression of change causes quanta to interact with other quanta, and the entropy of the Universe to increase (continuously from the Big Bang), it can be said that traces degrade through quanta interaction and through an increase of entropy.
Traces degrade at every state change in exactly the same way, together with the current state, because the Universe doesn't see a separation between the current state and traces. This means that the more state changes pass, the more degraded a trace is, so, an older trace will be more degraded than a recent trace, because more degradation steps have occurred.
This means that traces degrade in a geometric progression, or faster, where the common ratio is below 1 because only a fraction of the information from the previous state is present in the current state. Because the sum of a geometric progression has a limit when the common ratio is below 1, the traces of all the previous states of the Universe are limited to a fraction from the current state of the Universe.
Examples of traces are: the cosmic microwave background, (reflected or emitted) photons, memories, books, photos and videos.
When people see the world around them, they see traces, not the current state of the observed objects. Seeing objects nearby can be considered instantaneous, but in the case of stars, the traces are very old, from years to billions of years old. To be accurate, people can't ever see the past (/ previous states), they see information about the past (/ previous states) encoded in the present (/ current state), information which may have been altered (during any and all the previous states in between) until it has reached the observer, so it might no longer encode anything about the past.
A quasi trace is like a trace, but it's never separate from the source it represents, so it doesn't indicate the presence of something situated at a distance in space, but something from a previous state of the progression, something at a distance in time.
The evolution of quasi traces may create traces. For example, burning an object creates photons that do constitute traces.
An object is not a trace of the same object from its previous state, if it contains the same information, meaning that it has not transformed or degraded. This is because if objects were to not transform or degrade, no matter could change in the Universe (although objects could move around).
The difference between traces and quasi traces is that an object may create multiple traces (one at every state change, all encoded in the current state of the Universe), but is itself only one quasi trace (encoded in the current state of the Universe). Once a trace is created, it has an independent existence from the object that created it. However, a quasi trace is simply transformed into another quasi trace (encoded in the current state of the Universe, while the original quasi trace has vanished).
Examples: A burnt object is a quasi trace of the same object from before being burnt. A fossil is a quasi trace of a prehistoric animal. A teenager is a quasi trace of a child. An adult is a quasi trace of a teenager. An old person is a quasi trace of an adult.
Consider the following mathematical progression: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9... This progression doesn't include traces. If you are inside state 5, you can't say anything about the previous state or about the next state (without knowing the rules of the progression) since state 5 doesn't contain a trace of state 4.
To include traces, the progression could look something like this: 1, 2.1, 3.21, 4.321, 5.4321... You can see that not only each state includes traces of the previous states, but that those trace degrade (in terms of value) at each state change. If you want to simulate the complete destruction of a trace, set it to 0.
Consider the following progression: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1... Each state of this progression contains the entire previous state as a trace. Because of this, the progression is filled with the information content of a single state and can't evolve / change.
When the current state contains the entire previous state as a trace, the progression freezes in that single state because the informational limit of the current state is filled with that trace. There are three possibilities for this to not happen:
Observations show that (in) the Universe:
Past and future
The Universe has no time dimension, that is, it has no time sequence in which quanta can move back / forward, like they can do in space, so there is no past, present or future in such a dimension. The past, present and future are states (of quanta) that can be observed.
In the progression of change, only the current state exists / manifests. The past is any previous state, while the future is any next state.
The progression of change determines the arrow of time; the entire progression has only one way in which it can progress. The past is distinguishable from the future due to the presence of traces of the past in the current state. The past and future are not created by either the lack or the presence of traces.
Traces are the only way in which the past can be identified, so the past emerges from the existence of traces within the current state. If a state change creates a trace, the state after the change can be distinguished from the initial state, due to the trace. This means that change can be asymmetric due to traces.
So, the past is observable in any previous state whose trace is contained within the current state. The future is any next state, that is, any state which will be the current state. States which are never the current state are neither past nor future. In the progression of change, states whose traces are not contained within the current state are possible pasts and potential futures, even though such states may have never been or may never be the current state.
The past is observable only because its traces are still present in the current state of the Universe. The older the past is, the more degraded its traces are, so the less accurately it can be observed / described.
What would happen if a trace were degraded to the point of becoming inaccessible? The information about the previous state which is encoded in the trace would vanish completely and forever, without any indication that it has ever existed.
Now it's finally possible to discard the notions of "previous" and "next" states for a moment, so it's possible to say that a previous state is any state whose trace is contained within the current state, and that a next state is any state whose trace is not contained within the current state. This would be the correct way of talking, if change were only sequential but not a progression. But since change is a progression, the previous / past and next / future states will always exist as part of the progression rather than part of a (virtual) sequence, even in the absence of traces (although then it would be practically impossible to distinguish the next state from a previous one, except from the outside of the progression / Universe).
Change is sequential, not a sequence, so it's not possible to move back / forward in the sequence, and to revert a change, a new state change is needed. This means that a reversal of change acts exactly like any other change.
Since change can be asymmetric due to traces, and since a change reversal is like any other change, a change reversal can be asymmetric due to traces. In other words, in order to revert to a previous state, a new state change is required, which means that a trace would be created, which means that the Universe would not really be as it was in that previous state.
Take the movement in space, for example. If an object moves from A to B, it can, theoretically, move perfectly back from B to A. But in order for the object to move back, the object must change its state again, so a new trace may be created. In physics, this trace is known as an increase of entropy outside the object's frame of reference, because energy is required to come from somewhere in order to reverse the move. If you were to attempt to reverse the entropy outside the object's frame of reference, you would create a separate increase of entropy outside the object's frame of reference, and so on because any change requires a new state change (since it's not possible to go back in a sequence of change).
However, it's essential to understand that theory is an unconstrained selection process, that is, a fantasy. In contrast, Reality is a constrained selection process which always obeys the entire chain of causality, starting from the beginning of the Universe. This means that whether the move back from B to A actually happens depends on the entire chain of causality, starting from the beginning of the Universe. This happens because Reality is a progression that can happen only one way.
The Universe would be non-functional because complex patterns would not be able to form, if:
A Universe without traces
A Universe without traces would be non-functional because complex patterns would not be able to form, and life would have no past to learn from in order to create more and more complex patterns.
The progression of change can be observed and have its rules extracted only because traces provide the ability to compare consecutive states. In a Universe without traces, it's impossible to know anything about the past, so it's impossible to know how change happens. In such a case, the Universe could either loop between two states, like an oscillation, or could be random at every state change, but change would still appear random to an observer since there would be no memorized past with which to compare the present. The only thing that could settle the question is for the current state to contain traces of previous states.
What about an observer who is external to that Universe? Such an observer would have the same problem: for the observer to see the past of that Universe, the observer has to record traces of what happens in the observed Universe. But how would the observer do this if that Universe doesn't emit traces (like photons)? If traces are not recorded about some phenomena, nothing can be said about that phenomena.
Detailed trace example
Consider an apple tree in an orchard. An apple falls from the tree toward the ground. The apple on the ground is the new current state. Seeing it on the ground (so not the actual fall) leads to a logical deduction that it has fallen, but there's no trace / knowledge of that (because the actual fall was not seen or is not remembered), and you're deducing that only based on your memories of how the world works.
While falling, the apple and the ground around it reflect photons, from the Sun, creating traces that move away from Earth and keep on going in the Universe. Whatever happens to the apple now, whatever its current state is, its traces (= the photons) continue to exist separately.
Someone in the Universe intercepts these photons and sees the apple falling on the ground. What they see is not the current state of the apple, but the traces of the previous states of the apple.
If traces wouldn't exist, either as photons moving away or as memories that let you deduce the past, there would be no knowledge of the past, and the past could just as well be any state that hasn't occurred yet, and which may never occur.
Take a glass which is broken on the ground. You see it and you logically deduce that it broke, but you don't know how it broke. However, there are traces of that process, out in the Universe. Without those traces, there is no knowledge about the past (of the glass).
By the way, your logical deductions were wrong: the apple didn't fall on the ground but was put there by someone, and the glass didn't broke but the shards were made like that, so the past that you believe in is imaginary because without traces you can't create a correct model of how the world works.
Consider the following state progression notation: A → B → C.
The letters represent states, while the "→" operator represents a state change (between the adjacent letters).
AB is a shortcut for A → B, BC is a shortcut for B → C, ABC is a shortcut for A → B → C.
This notation represents that state A changes into state B, and state B changes into state C.
Because of traces, state B contains a trace of state A, and that state C contains a trace of state B, so the notation can be expanded into: A → B ⊃ T(A) → C ⊃ T(B).
The "⊃" operator represents that the left side (= the state) contains the right side (= the trace).
T is a trace function, that is, it's a function which degrades the state given as a parameter into a trace.
State C can be expanded into C ⊃ T(B ⊃ T(A)). You can see how state A is degraded twice during the two state changes from A to C.
To understand the reversal asymmetry, consider the following progression: A → B → A. Because of traces, this can be expanded into: A → B ⊃ T(A) → A ⊃ T(B). This means that if the change AB reverts through the change BA, the state after the reversal (= A ⊃ T(B)) can be distinguished from the initial state (= A), due to the new trace (= T(B)).
What is time? Is time real or is it an illusion?
Some people say that time isn't real, yet you see time passing all the time around you. So, is time real? Aside from the time that you see passing, time is also a factor used in relativistic equations to measure change. Is there an absolute time, something like a fundamental property of the Universe? No, absolute time is not real.
The Universe has no time dimension, that is, it has no time sequence in which quanta can move back / forward, like they can do in space, so there is no past, present or future in such a dimension. The past, present and future are states (of quanta) that can be observed.
Time, like color, is a composite of several elements. In colloquial meaning, time is change (with all its properties).
When people talk colloquially about time, they actually mean change. People care about what they remember to be history, so they care about the state of the Universe that their memory has recorded and can be used for comparison, and also care about predicting what will happen in a future state of the Universe in order to gain various advantages.
People see change by comparing an observed current state (actually, a trace of the current state) of the Universe with the traces of the past states stored in their minds, and call it "time passed". In this sense, time is real because change has happened.
To clarify your confusion about time, in all your (physics) conversations about time, substitute the word "time" with the word "change" and you'll see how everything about time fits into place. You can see examples of this in the Rewording concepts section.
Clocks track the number of state changes, so they measure (time) intervals, usually modulo 24 hours.
Each clock tick is produced by a certain periodic physical / chemical / biological change of matter (that the clock is made of).
This is why, in relativistic physics, an observer (Alice) sees the ticks of her clock happening with the same periodicity, no matter what her velocity is or what gravity she's subjected to, that is, despite time dilation; this is because all the changes in her frame of reference have the same time-cadence.
Only when comparing her clock with the clock of another observer (Bob), is that they can see differences in what their clocks show, in the number of state changes they they've tracked. This has been experimentally observed in the Hafele–Keating experiment, where change has happened for each clock with a different time-cadence.
Why do clocks measure equal (time) intervals? Because change is consistent, so clocks are measuring time intervals based on the same kind of change, change which takes the same number of state changes. However, velocity and gravity do affect the cadence with which change happens, so clocks in different frames of reference may show different times (when compared).
If nothing were to change, clocks could not tell the time. In a Universe which has quanta that have mass but never change, even if cadence were to still exist, there is no way to measure time because clocks track change (like oscillations), change which is missing. But even if time were somehow measured in such a Universe, there would be no distinction among states, so the past, present and future would all be the current state.
Traveling in time
Is it possible to travel back / forward in time?
This is imprecise language. What you really want is a specific fantasy which is different than the reversal of change.
You expect that such a travel would move you in a previous / next state of the Universe, state which would continue to change with you in it.
You also expect that the state from which you've left would continue to change without you in it.
You also expect that you would be able to return to the state from which you've left, which would then continue to change with you in it, while the previous / next state would continue to change without you in it.
Remember that only the current state exists in the Universe, and there is no time dimension, so it's not possible to travel back / forward in time the way you fantasize.
Change is sequential, not a sequence, so it's not possible to move back / forward in the sequence. Also, in order to revert to a previous state, a new state change is required, which means that a trace would be created, which means that the Universe would not really be as it was in that previous state, so it doesn't really "go back in time" even if a state reverts.
But maybe there is some unknown field where each state of the Universe is stored at every state change, field which could theoretically be accessed. Perhaps this field is read-only, so it can't be affected by further change, or perhaps it is affected when you interact with it, and creates a new state, forming a tree structure. This hasn't been observed, so it remains a fantasy.
Is this description of time falsifiable?
This is a description / interpretation of time, that is, it changes the language in order to understand the manifestation of time, not the physics.
This description doesn't break any previous understanding about how time works, so nothing that was already known changes. The only thing that breaks is the idea that time travel is possible, since this description says that it's not possible to travel in time.
There are some physics equations which appear to indicate that some particles could be traveling back in time.
The falsifiable criterion of this description of time is that if such time travel were observed, this description would become false.
Here are some existing concepts from physics that are reworded using the concept of change instead of the word "time".
Progression: What is the cause of the progression of change? It's impossible to know because this cause is outside the Universe. For all intents and purposes it can be said that there is no cause for the progression of change, and that it has appeared out of nothingness.
There are two possibilities: nothingness is the not default state Reality and this Universe is one possibility out of an infinite number of possibilities (so in a sense, infinity manifests), this Universe is a simulation started in another Universe.
The first possibility raises the question of why do people feel contiguous change? Why aren't people living discontiguous events? Why do people feel change at all? Why isn't everything an infinity of frozen states?
This leaves the possibility that a manifesting infinity which leads to life can be only an infinity of all possible progressions, progressions where there is change and continuity / causality in change. So, a pink unicorn isn't guaranteed to happen in this infinity for the simple reason that it requires a progression that would result in a pink unicorn, that is, the pink unicorn is not acausal / random. Why is this? Because, considering a Universe which has evolved as a progression, like this one, adding to it a pink unicorn is an unconstrained selection, that is, it's a figment of imagination that doesn't follow the chain of causality from the beginning of the Universe. If you take a Universe which doesn't follow a progression, one where random / acausal things like a pink unicorn can happen, such a Universe doesn't evolve life or pink unicorns other than random events that vanish at the next state change. Can there be a Universe evolving up to a point and then get inserted an acausal object to it? Maybe, but why would it happen only when it suits your fantasy rather than all the time, making such a Universe chaotic?
The possibility of the simulation raises the question of who created the Universe that started the simulation? And so on... at infinity.
Progression: Is the progression of the Universe a special one that favors life? No, it's likely an average progression (out of an infinity of possible progressions), but because it does allow for human life to exist, there are humans in it who can ask questions.
Duplicate me: If there is an infinite number of possible progressions, does this mean that a person may exist duplicated in multiple Universes? Take the infinity of real numbers. Is any number repeating? No. So, the fact that a set is infinite, doesn't mean that one element must repeat.
Universe: Was there any change before the Big Bang? People haven't observed any trace from before the Big Bang, so as far as people know the Universe was born at the Big Bang. There may have been another Universe before the Big Bang, but people can't find out about it because they observe no trace of it.
Universe: Is the Universe infinite in space? There is no way to prove that space is finite or infinite. People can observe space only up to a certain distance, and can't see what is or isn't beyond that. Believing in the possibility of an infinite space is in no way comparable to believing in the possible existence of pink unicorns because people can observe space, so this is a question about a property of something which is observable, not about something which isn't observable. Stating either that the Universe is finite or infinite is an observational bias.
Entropy: Is the Universe functional only because its entropy increases from the Big Bang (when entropy was minimal)? Since the Universe that people can observe has evolved from patterns, not randomness, it means that its initial state was small, so its entropy was small. But a system with a small entropy can't produce complexity, so its entropy must increase in order for new patterns to build on existing patterns, and for complexity to appear.
The root cause of everything in the Universe is the progression of change, that is, everything works as it does only because this is how the progression of change progresses / evolves starting from its rules and initial state, and nothing can happen otherwise.
It's unknown what has caused this root cause.
The indeterministic nature of the Universe adds randomness to each state of the progression, so the future states are not fully determined by any previous state, nor by the initial state.
However, this explanation provides no details about how the progression works, how it can be broken into small patterns that explain how it works in small contexts, so it will not be referred further.
Understanding how parts of the progression (of the Universe) work, as small patterns, introduces constrained selection in people's behaviors.
Unfortunately, describing parts of the progression will make people believe that there are patterns which have not been determined by the root cause, so they will believe that Reality is an unconstrained selection process, so they believe that the progression could evolve differently at any given step (/ state change), and that they have free will.
In reality, all the patterns that can be identified are emergent patterns (so not acausal), that is, they are all determined by the root cause through the evolution of the progression starting from its root pattern and initial state.
The concept of time
Why is it so difficult for people to understand time?
Because people are used to the idea that events happen in time and they assign a time coordinate to events, since that's what their perception tells them.
The idea of a (manifested) time coordinate is reinforced by the fact that time appears to be able to flow backward in some equations of physics. But these equations are not accurate descriptions of Reality, or people's interpretation of them may be inaccurate. Time, as colloquially understood, is formed by chaining together all the state changes (/ clock ticks), each with its own time-cadence, that occur between two events. The reason why time works correctly in the relativistic equations (as a dimension) is that time is a linear composition of the time-cadence, that is, it's a simple chaining of the time-cadences of each state change / clock tick.
However, the time coordinate is just the brain's approximate interpretation of Reality. Change doesn't happen in time. Change makes time. The brain interprets the properties of change, in particular its consistency, as a coordinate system. So, the causality of change-time is the reverse of what people generally believe.
This is one of the biggest observational biases that people have ever had. Despite experiencing both change and time, despite these concepts being extremely simple, despite using these concepts (together with space) more often than anything else, people have so far held the wrong belief about the causality between change and time, believing that time makes change possible, but in reality it's change that makes time possible.
Most likely, the reason for this belief is that change appears to be messy, not a neat equation or coordinate system, as time was supposed to be, so people could not make the jump to thinking that change is fundamental and causally precedes time. After all, it's far more difficult to believe that in order to describe time you need thousands of words instead of a few characters that make an equation.
To understand time, you have to think what is outside this Universe, to other Universes, to what these Universes may have in common, to what could have caused them all. Whether the root cause is observable or not is irrelevant. You have to think this way not because you will know the cause of everything, but because you will start to think that there is something outside this Universe, that this Universe is not unique, is not special, and has a beginning and an existence within in a larger context, and therefore its properties are ones that just made it possible to work the way it does, nothing more.
Arrow of time
Is time asymmetric, that is, can the future be distinguished from the past? Some physicists say that the future is distinguishable from the past because the entropy increases in the Universe, starting from the initial state of the Universe, and they call this the arrow of time. The progression of change determines the arrow of time; the entire progression has only one way in which it can progress. The past is distinguishable from the future due to the presence of traces of the past in the current state. The past and future are not created by either the lack or the presence of traces. The future is not distinguishable from the past because entropy increases; without traces it would have been impossible to determine that entropy increases in the Universe. However, the progression of change in this Universe has been observed to lead to an entropy increase with every state change, so, the entropy increase is indirectly making the future distinguishable from the past, and it also indicates the arrow of time.
What if two observers of traces come to different conclusions about the past? Doesn't that mean that now the past behaves like the future, so there is no difference between the two? No. The progression of change determines the arrow of time; the entire progression has only one way in which it can progress. The past is distinguishable from the future due to the presence of traces of the past in the current state. The past and future are not created by either the lack or the presence of traces. On top of this, the inability of observers to extract correct information about the past doesn't invalidate the existence of the traces. The existence of the traces allows people to see the difference between past and future, not people's ability to decode the traces. Take a cryptographic hash as an example: given a hash output, it's (virtually) impossible to extract the original information from it, yet some information was hashed and that process did result in the hash output; the hash output isn't the past / cause of the original information, but its future. Consider a Universe where a single quanta is moved left-right, repeatedly. The progression of this Universe has only one way in which it can progress, state after state, past to future, yet there are no traces of its change, so there is no way to distinguish the past from the future (except for an external observer who has different laws of physics and can record the left-right movement).
Is the future the direction in which the number of possible states that an object could be in increases? No. Let's take an egg as an example. In time, the egg can change from intact to broken to rotting. Does this sequence happen because as the egg changes there are more possible states in which it can be? No. An intact egg that quickly interacts with a hard surface (like a tiled kitchen floor) turns to broken, and if it's left there it will rot. This is a progression and is the only way that the egg can transform in time, given a specific context. Are there multiple ways in which the egg can break or rot? Yes, but which way actually happens depends on the myriad of factors from the egg's context and from outside it. If the context changes, the way the egg breaks or rots changes. If someone cleans up the broken egg, the egg will not rot on the floor, but in the trash. So, the future of the egg is exactly determined, and can only be the combination which is given by all the factors that interact in the egg's context. So, the future is the direction of the progression, and that progression has only one way to progress, according to its rules. So, the egg can't unbreak because that is not part of its progression.
What is the duration of a state change? Precisely and exactly one state change. In other words, there is no such thing as a state change duration, although there is no argument against a quantum of time. To make a metaphor, the entire life of the Universe so far could have happened in the blink of an eye of a mythical god.
A second is defined (by people) as a fixed number of state changes of a certain kind of change.
Since oscillations / frequencies are measured in the inverse of seconds, shouldn't there be an absolute definition of a second? Any change is visible only relative to other changes, although there is no argument against a quantum of time. A second is defined (by people) as a fixed number of state changes of a certain kind of change. This means that any kind of oscillation is visible and measurable only relative to the kind of oscillation that's used to define the second, that is, they are all relative to one another.
Do all moments of time, past and future, exist simultaneously, for eternity? Consider a simple progression, that of positive natural numbers, which exist for eternity: 1, 2, 3, 4... Time is a progression like this, so it's possible to say that all moments of time exist simultaneously, for eternity, in theory. In Reality, people experience change. Change / time is the equivalent of enumerating (/ iterating over) the progression, that is, each state change is the next enumerated value. So, even though the entire progression does exists theoretically / mathematically, in order to experience it, it must be enumerated. It is this enumeration that makes the simultaneous existence of all moments of time just a mathematical concept.
Is there time without change? There isn't. Consider a Universe which has quanta that have mass but which never change. How do you measure time there? Even if cadence were to still exist, you can't measure time because you need clocks to measure time, but clocks track change (like oscillations), change which is missing. But even if you could measure time, what would you actually see (in time) considering that nothing changes and there is no distinction among states?
Why can the future change, but the past can't? What do you mean by the "future can change"? It certainly doesn't mean that people have control over the change (there is no free will). The current state does change sequentially, based on the laws of physics and a tiny bit of randomness, so the future comes into existence as the new current state. However, any state which is not the current state can't change, be that state from either the past or from a future that will never happen. The past is closed, but the future is not open (as you may have heard), the future is as closed as the past. So, the future becomes / arrives during the evolution of the progression of the Universe, the future doesn't change at anyone's will.
I've heard physicists saying that there is no now. Is there a now? It depends on what "now" means. The present is the current state of quanta and is so everywhere in the Universe. However, there is no simultaneity because it's impossible to measure the state of all quanta simultaneously because there is no way to measure the current state of the quanta during a single state of the observer, especially across large distances in space, so any measurement of the current state of the quanta can only happen over many states / state changes of the observer, which means that when the state of the last quantum is determined, the state of the first quantum is obsolete for a long time (because it went through many more state changes since it was measured).
Some people say that it's theoretically possible to go back in time by reversing entropy on a small scale. Going back in time is impossible because change is sequential, not a sequence, so it's not possible to move back / forward in the sequence. Also, in order to revert to a previous state, a new state change is required, which means that a trace would be created, which means that the Universe would not really be as it was in that previous state, so it doesn't really "go back in time" even if a state reverts. In physics, reverting entropy on a small scale requires increasing the entropy outside that small context.
Did time start at the Big Bang? This is imprecise language. The Universe has no fundamental property called time. Time is change, so what you really want to know is if there was any change before the Big Bang (as a previous state in the progression). There may have been, but since the Universe doesn't contain a trace of a state from before the Big Bang, people can't say if there was anything before the Big Bang. So, in this Universe change / time did start at the Big Bang, but in other Universes it didn't. You also have to consider whether space started with the Big Bang. If it did, then there was no location before the Big Bang where change could be observed, so it's impossible to say that time existed even for an observer external to this Universe (since externality would require space).
What does it mean that time slows down the closer you get to the event horizon of a black hole? It means that change in a quantum's internal frame of reference slows down until it stops at the event horizon, point when, from far away from the black hole, the quantum appears to have vanished because the lack of change means that no photons are emitted.
Inside the quantum, change appears to happen normally, so time appears to pass normally, because all the changes in the internal frame of reference have (nearly) the same time-cadence, so both a clock and an internal observer's perception have the same time-cadence, so the observer sees the clock progressing as usual, in the same number of state changes. The quantum continues to change in its external frame of reference, so it continues to move according to its velocity, and it also continues to have mass.
If Alice is near a black hole, while Bob is far away, Alice sees Bob act much faster than if they were next to each other. Why is this? Because the change in Bob's frame of reference is faster than the change in Alice's frame of reference, so, for example, the traces of Bob are created faster than they are for Alice, so Bob's actions appear to Alice like a sped up movie.
If time doesn't flow when moving in space at the speed of light, and time is change, it means that photons don't change (since they move with the speed of light). So how do photons still exist? Because photons still have properties: they move, have mass and frequency.
If a photon doesn't change in its internal frame of reference (since it moves with the speed of light), why does it have a wavelength / frequency? The wavelength / frequency is an external change, like movement in space, so it's not affected by the photon's velocity (because velocity affects the cadence in the internal frame of reference of the photon, but not in its external frame of reference), but is affected by gravity (because gravity affects the cadence in both the internal and external frames of reference of the photon). Because of these, the frequency is affected by the gravitational time dilation and the gravitational redshift.
This is the mathematics / physics of Relativity with a small addition (the frame reference switch) and a clarification (the relative velocity).
We want to understand what the cadence of change is, mathematically.
We will continue using the word "time" as it has always been, since the result is the same (due to time's linear composition from the cadence of change), and any change would lead to tremendous difficulties in understanding anything.
The cadence of change is the rate / "speed" with which change happens in space-time. More specifically, this will be called time-cadence (= cadence of change in time).
Time, as colloquially understood, is formed by chaining together all the state changes (/ clock ticks), each with its own time-cadence, that occur between two events. The reason why time works correctly in the relativistic equations (as a dimension) is that time is a linear composition of the time-cadence, that is, it's a simple chaining of the time-cadences of each state change / clock tick.
Clocks don't measure time as some sort of location within a dimension, they count specific types of repetitive physical processes (= state changes). For example, a mechanical clock and an atomic clock measure different types of processes, but the number of repetitions of an atomic clock which makes a second was synchronized so that it equals the number of repetitions of a mechanical clock which makes a second (which, if you go back in history, was synchronized so that a number of seconds fits into a rotation of the Earth until the Sun is in the same relative position in the sky). This means that, so far, there is nothing absolute in the concept of a second or of time.
Clocks can measure time in a single frame of reference, but they do so by counting the clock ticks, that is, the number of state changes which pass between two events. However, a single state change is unitless (= has no time duration). So, while the clock in each frame of reference does return an integer count, it's a unitless count of repetitions, that is, it's not a value in some absolute time dimension. Because of this, the measurements of time made in a frame of reference mean nothing without being compared to the measurements made in another frame of reference.
Below it will be explained how the velocity of an object affects its time-cadence, that is, the rate with which change happens for it, so the rate with which time flows for it.
Regardless of whether velocity or acceleration affects the time-cadence, the presented equations depend on velocity because they don't handle changes in the time-cadence, they handle the relative relationship between the time-cadences of two frames of reference. In other words, once the velocity remains constant (so the acceleration stopped), the time-cadence also remains constant (to whatever level it reached).
This means that velocity affecting how time flows is a phenomena which emerges from the fact that the clock of the moving object continuously ticks with a constant time-cadence for a number of state changes, time-cadence which is lower than the time-cadence of the starting place of the moving object.
A change in the time-cadence has nothing to do with the relative velocity between two objects. In other words, in a frame of reference, time does not depend on other frames of reference, as is the flawed interpretation of the Theory of Relativity. Time doesn't slow down because one object moves relative to another, but because an object changes its velocity (in the void, by accelerating). Once the change ends, time continues to "flow" with the time-cadence that it reached, time-cadence which is different than what it was before the change in movement occurred. This means that the velocity which affects the time-cadence is not a velocity relative to another object, but relative to its previous velocity. The fact that it's also relative to another object is how people make valid measurements relative to that other object, and has nothing to do with how Reality keeps track of time.
The other object is only meant to serve as a reference, a coordinate system, so that people can compare measurements; it doesn't affect the time of the first object. Without the other object, the people inside a moving spaceship would not be able to measure how time is affected by the velocity of the spaceship.
People believe that time dilation being related to movement can't happen because it's not possible to determine velocity in complete void. But that's a problem that people have. Nature keeps track of changes in the time-cadence, velocity and acceleration of each quantum, from the moment it started moving / changing.
People can keep track of time dilation, using relativistic equations, by using another object that acts as a coordinate system for the comparison, but first the objects must go through a process which synchronizes the measurement units, a process called frame synchronization (described below). After that, one and only one object may accelerate away from the synchronized frame of reference, so that valid comparisons can be made about how time flows for each object.
What is happening is similar to weighing two objects, each on a different scale. You can see two weight numbers, so which object is heavier? The usual and wrong answer is "the one with a higher value", but the correct answer is "it's impossible for people to know". This is because people can't know what those numbers represent if the scales don't have synchronized measurement units. Each scale can measure weights without being affected by other scales, but the scales must be synchronized before people can compare the results. Only then can anything be said about the weight of each object, that is, valid information about them can be compared. After synchronization, if the measurement unit of one scale changes in a known way, valid comparisons can still be made, but if the measurement unit of the other scale changes in an unknown way, comparisons are no longer valid. Note that changing the measurement unit of one scale doesn't affect the measurement unit or the measurements of the other scale. To turn the analogy around, velocity affects the measurement unit of the scale which is moving; the inability of people to determine movement in complete void is irrelevant to Reality. The relative velocity between two objects is like the difference between the numbers shown by the two scales: it's meaningless without synchronizing the measurement units.
Frame synchronization is the process by which the movement in space-time between two frames of reference is synchronized, forming a (temporary) single frame of reference. The synchronization is achieved if the distance between the two frames of reference stays the same for at least 2 clock ticks; also, the combined frame of reference must not rotate or must rotate with the same velocity (like objects on Earth's surface). The time, length, velocity and acceleration of the two frames of reference become synchronized, that is, they change with equal cadence. Basically, the velocity and acceleration of each frame of reference is integrated into the other, so they move together in space-time. Even acceleration is a value relative to a synchronized frame of reference; it's irrelevant what the acceleration of the synchronized frame of reference itself is in the void. Once the distance changes or a rotation occurs, the synchronization breaks, unless both frames of reference move with the same acceleration and velocity (even if in different directions), but this can be measured only from an external frame of reference. Synchronized and unsynchronized frames of reference are fundamentally different contexts, which means that the experiments performed in them are fundamentally different.
Two frames of reference are frame synchronized if they go through the frame synchronization process and remain that way (so the distance between them remains constant), else they are frame unsynchronized. Understanding the difference between synchronized and unsynchronized frames of reference is crucial.
Two frames of reference are semi frame synchronized if they are frame synchronized and then one (and only one) object accelerates away from the other, in a known manner.
A rest frame exists in a frame synchronized or semi frame synchronized context, and is the frame of reference which doesn't accelerate away from this (semi) synchronized state. This is because velocity can't be measured in complete void, so it must always be relative to another frame of reference. The frame of reference which does accelerate away from the (semi) synchronized state is the moving frame.
Distance is the vector space between two points. Length is a distance unaffected by movement in space-time, so it's constant, meaning that it can exist only in a frame synchronized context, meaning that it exists only in a single frame of reference; in practice, length is a ruler. Distance and length are the same thing if the distance is constant, that is, the context is / becomes frame synchronized. Understanding the difference between distance and length is crucial.
Who is moving? #1
How can Relativity possibly be correct considering that movement is relative, and, in void, it's impossible to say which object is at rest and which is moving? How can Nature possibly know which object is moving faster than others?
Existing explanations are unsatisfying and feel like something is missing.
The short answer is: people can't, Nature can. People can't do it because they don't know the movement history of those objects.
Many times, people make assumptions which are theoretically incorrect, but practically correct, which is why they usually get the correct result, but for the wrong reason. The ability to extract valid information from the environment at all times is one such assumption.
People normally expect to be able to extract valid information from the environment (like time, length and velocity), but that's not always possible. Valid information can be extracted only from objects which are frame synchronized or semi frame synchronized. If they are frame unsynchronized, valid information can be extracted only by measuring the locally elapsed time, that is, the relative velocity between them is useless.
People also mix contexts and assumptions that don't work together, like a frame synchronized and a frame unsynchronized context.
There is also a conflation between local reality and remote observation, remote observation which has nothing to do with, for example, what happens inside a moving spaceship. Remote observation is not knowledge synchronized to a specific moment in the local time, it's a trace (of the local reality of something else), that is, it's observation of photons coming from the another object, observation which is affected by the inability to determine the simultaneity between the events which occur at two locations separated by a great distance, events whose observation is affected by the limited speed of light.
On top of all this, the concept of velocity is wrongly used. It's physically impossible to know the velocity without first knowing the time (delta) and the length (= location delta). Whenever you think that you know the velocity without knowing the length, it's only because that velocity was determined relative to a known length, somewhere, in a different frame of reference, before that moment; in that case, the time, length, velocity and acceleration must be measured relative to that frame of reference, that is, they must be synchronized to that frame of reference.
This means that the relative velocity between two objects, determined without knowing the travel length of each object, can't be used to resolve the time dilation equation. Without knowing the travel length, no valid determination can be made about velocity. The properties of movement in space can be determined only after the travel length is known and the time of each frame of reference is determined (relative to one of them or to an external frame of reference). In fact, the common Lorentz factor is a simplified version, and the expanded relativistic equations do contain the travel length.
People usually confuse the travel length of each frame of reference and the distance between them. They are not the same thing. Knowing the distance between two objects doesn't allow the extraction of valid information about their movement. A laser beam circulating between the objects can only tell the distance between the objects relative to a ghost moment in time (because each object may have moved after the beam was created), not the travel length of each object.
This means that the relative velocity from the relativistic equations is not what people commonly assume it is: the relative velocity between two objects, as measured by those objects, based on the distance between them. Instead, it's the relative velocity between two objects which are semi frame synchronized.
The Universe has properties that can be considered to have started at 0, like time-cadence, velocity and acceleration. People are confused by the fact that they can't determine what these properties are, so they think that they don't exist. But this is only because people don't know the movement history of quanta. Since people can't measure these properties, they are for any practical purpose irrelevant.
In the past, there was a special moment, when the progression of the Universe started, presumably just before the Big Bang, when all frames of reference (/ quanta / objects) were frame synchronized, that is, the time, length, velocity and acceleration were the same (or, changed with equal cadence) for all. The time-cadence, velocity and acceleration can be considered to be 0 at this special moment, that is, there was no change. Then, a change occurred and each individual frame of reference moved more or less, accelerating relative to whatever was before. Hence, all these properties can be and are relative to that special moment.
All the movement in the Universe, starting from the special moment, is already incorporated in the time-cadences, velocities and accelerations of all quanta, in the current state of those quanta. Nature knows how fast each quantum moves in space relative to the special moment, and how fast / slow time passes for each quantum.
People can measure these properties for objects only relative to other objects. But to make valid measurements, the objects must be frame synchronized before the movement of each object changes further.
We devise an experiment which eliminates various assumptions which complicate understanding Relativity. The experiment includes frame synchronized and unsynchronized scenarios.
We have two objects, each in its own frame of reference, which are placed in complete void, with nothing external affecting them, with no visible elements around them (so nothing to measure their velocity against), with unknown histories (so unknown past accelerations), with unsynchronized clocks and velocities, moving linearly with constant velocities, with no return toward a previously passed by point (so no "broken asymmetry" or implications that time magically adjusts itself instantly at the turning point), with no need for the objects to pass information to a third frame of reference (except in extended scenarios), with no special frame of reference in the form of a closed-Universe (where a spaceship moving in a straight line would eventually return to its starting location).
The experiment eliminates the need for determining the remote simultaneity (of measurement) by creating local simultaneity by: adding (a known) length to one frame of reference, removing the distance between the frames of reference (along the length), and storing the measured information for later calculations. The experiment makes it possible to extract information, from the frames of reference, information which is unaffected by the inability to determine remote simultaneity.
This experiment is meant clarify how the rate with which time passes is affected by movement. This effect is experimentally verified, for example, in the Global Positioning System, where the satellite times have to be adjusted in order to account for both the slowing of time due to the high satellite velocity and for the acceleration of time due to the satellites being farther away from the gravitational field of Earth.
In the context of unsynchronized frames of reference, in void is impossible to say which object is moving in space and with what velocity. However, at the end of this experiment, after all the measurements are made, it will be possible to say which object is moving in space relative to the other (which is considered at rest) and with what relative velocity.
The experiment will show that what people commonly believe to be paradoxes in Relativity, are actually contexts in which valid information can't physically be extracted from two frames of reference, contexts in which people wrongly assume certain things (like thinking of a mix of frame synchronized and frame unsynchronized contexts). For example, having two objects (with unknown movement histories) moving in complete void is an unsynchronized context in which the time (passing / dilation) of each object can't be determined from their relative velocity.
Below there are some equations which are not new mathematics or physics, but slight reformulations of the time dilation equation from Relativity. The equations are important as formulated also because they eliminate infinity. It would be interesting to investigate other relativistic equations to see it a similar method can be applied.
We have the following facts from Relativity:
We now consider that we don't know which is the rest frame and which is the moving frame, so we reformulate the clock tick dilation equation as a dual equation:
We also reformulate the time dilation equation as a dual equation:
We reformulate the time dilation equation based on a frame of reference switch, φ, essential in a frame unsynchronized context, so that we have only one time dilation equation, even when we don't know which is the rest frame and which is the moving frame:
We define φ:
The presence of φ in the time dilation equation is essential, since without it calculations only work because φ is implicitly assumed. φ removes the need to manually track (and lose track of) which object is moving and which is at rest.
We substitute GA:
We define the unitless velocity for FS relative to FR:
We substitute again:
We define the (relative) time-cadence for FS:
We define the (relative) time-cadence for FR:
We define the (relative) time-cadence CT for FS relative to FR, especially because FR is the origin of the relative coordinate system, so we can consider that CTR is 1 (because it's relative to itself):
We substitute again:
This means that the cadence of change happens in a 2D space, on the circumference of a circle. The coordinates on this circle are the time-cadence and velocity, while the radius is the speed of light. Note that it's a circle since the infinity was eliminated by φ.
Keep in mind that φ means that it's not known whether S or R is moving in the semi frame synchronized context.
Since φ keeps the time factor subunitary, there is no (real) solution for UV > 1, which means that UV must also be subunitary, so V <= C.
The TDQ and CST are unitless, or, if you want, are expressed in natural units. Nature doesn't have measurement units, and everything is relative to everything else, so various minimums and maximums can be interpreted as 1. The human defined measurement units are relative to these minimums and maximums, just like a second is defined (by people) as a fixed number of state changes of a certain kind of change.
Who is moving? #2
In the experiment with gates, we've arbitrarily decided that R moves across the length of GH, but it could be that the length of GH moves over R (= GH moves faster than R), or they could even both move with independent velocities. This means that at the end of the experiment, GH can't physically calculate the time dilation of R because it doesn't know the frame reference switch φ, that is, it doesn't know who moves faster. If GH and R are semi frame synchronized, as required by the experiment, there are only two solutions, so the number of possible results is very limited. Without φ, the time dilation can't be calculated, and the times local to R for crossing through both G and H must be measured in order to understand the movement of GH and R. This is why we've arbitrarily decided that R did experience less time than GH.
If an experiment is in agreement with the calculations in the absence of φ, it's only because φ was correctly assumed due to some (theoretically incorrect, but practically correct) assumptions made by people. This happens, for example, when incorrectly assuming φ to be 1, although being practically correct because the experiment is semi frame synchronized, so it's known which object is moving faster in space because one object accelerated away from the synchronized frame.
Another wrong use of (relative) velocity is exposed, in the experiment with gates, if GH and R are frame unsynchronized. In this case, they could very well be moving with the same velocity but in different directions, which means that no time dilation would be observed, even though it would be clear that they move over each other (since R's travel length can be determined).
This problem is more clearly exposed by having R and S move with equal velocities, relative to GH, but in opposite directions, which means that they need the same delta time to go through the gates. This means that time passes with the same rate / cadence for both of them. According to the time dilation equation, this can happen only if the relative velocity between R and S is 0.
Yet, R and S can see that their relative velocity is greater than 0, which means that, according to the time dilation equation, when they get through the second gate, each would have to send to the gate a time which makes the spaceship's delta time smaller than the other spaceship's delta time, which is absurd. This is the difference between local reality and remote observation. No valid determination can be made because R and S don't know the travel length of each of them (they can only see the distance between them increasing).
Before anybody makes the wrong assumption, remember that the gates record the times of R and S, and see equal delta times, including when there are more than two gates. While R and S can see that they move first toward and then away from each other, the experiment can be changed to have three gates, so that R and S only move away from each other, so their relative velocity would appear twice the velocity of each (relative to the starting, central gate).
This means that the relative velocity should not be calculated based on the distance between the moving objects, as may be expected, but based on the travel length in an external frame of reference to which they are semi frame synchronized, so time and travel length can be measured in the same way), so that the direction becomes irrelevant.
This means that the relative velocity V from the Lorentz factor is not what people commonly assume it is: the relative velocity between two objects, as measured by those objects, based on the distance between them. The objects must also be semi frame synchronized, which means that the relative velocity is actually the velocity of the moving object, relative to the object at rest, a subtle but monumental difference (because this velocity belongs only to the moving object, not to both objects).
Otherwise, if both objects (R and S) are moving (and have unknown movement histories), they must be semi frame synchronized to an external frame of reference (like GH), have their velocities measured relative to the external frame of reference (in which the travel length is known for both objects), have their dilated times computed, and only then can these dilated times be subtracted from one another. All measurements have to be made relative to the external frame of reference.
Only then can anything be said about how they all relate to each other, that is, valid information about them can be compared. Without this, any measurement is like weighing objects on scales that use different units of measurement, and comparing the results; the scales (/ units of measurement) must be measured / synchronized relative to something common in order to get meaningful results.
In other words, by having access only to the relative velocity between two independently moving objects, R and S, determined based on the distance between them, it's physically impossible to determine how they are moving in space and time. For example, we've assumed that the time for both R and S passes slower than it does for GH. But what if that's not the case? What if, the φ between GH and S is not the same as the φ between GH and R? This would mean that it's GH's time that would pass slower than the time of S (but faster than the time of R).
To make the correct calculations, the two objects must first be frame synchronized. Then, it has to be known whether one object accelerates away relative to the synchronized frame of reference, which means that φ is known.
For example, if two objects are frame synchronized and then become semi frame synchronized, so only one of them accelerates away relative to the other, it means that the non-accelerating object is at rest (in the synchronized frame of reference) and that the velocity from the TDQ and CST equations is the velocity of the moving object relative to the object at rest. In this case there is no need for a third frame of reference for synchronization. Any velocity and acceleration until the moment of separation is incorporated in all parts of the synchronized frame of reference. All common physics examples of how to calculate the time dilation are correct because they all start with the assumption that one object is at rest and the other one moves with a (known) relative velocity, so the objects start frame synchronized, which means that all the necessary information exists in order to make valid calculations.
For example, the common twin paradox experiment is frame synchronized (to Earth). The acceleration of the spaceship relative to the Earth makes it possible to understand whose twin's frame of reference will experience more or less time; this presumes that the Earth doesn't change whatever acceleration it might have in the Universe, after the spaceship separates from the synchronized frame of reference; remember that any velocity and acceleration before the separation are incorporated in both objects.
But then people make an unconscious switch to a frame unsynchronized context and claim that, in complete void, it's not possible to know which twin moves. This is indeed true, but it's a different context.
In a frame unsynchronized context, like R and S from the experiment with gates, the movement history is unknown, so it must be possible to externally measure the travel length of each (and φ should be known), from GH, else it's physically impossible to extract valid information from R and S.
What's more, in a frame unsynchronized context, where R and S are not semi frame synchronized with GH, it's physically impossible to extract any valid information from any frame of reference because the scale that is being used to make measurements is different for each object.
The twin paradox is muddled further by conflating local reality (where time is physically slowed down by movement) with remote observation of photons coming from the other moving object, observation which is affected by the inability to determine remote simultaneity. They are completely different physical phenomena.
Consider that there are two cosmic rulers, LM and GH, and a spaceship R.
The movement of LM is irrelevant in complete void.
GH and LM are semi frame synchronized. GH moves along LM, with velocity VGH, so it's time-cadence is lower than that of LM.
R and GH are frame synchronized. R is at rest relative to GH, so it's time-cadence is equal with that of GH (so lower than that of LM). Through transitivity, R and LM are semi frame synchronized.
At some point, R accelerates and moves with velocity VGH, in the opposite direction of the movement direction of GH, which makes it at rest relative to LM, so R and LM are frame synchronized.
If acceleration and velocity alone were to account for time dilation, since R accelerated away from GH, the time-cadence of R would be lower than that of GH. We already know that the time-cadence of GH is lower than that of LM, so this would mean that the time-cadence of R would be even lower than that of LM.
Yet, R is now at rest relative to LM, which means that its time-cadence must be equal with that of LM. This is absurd.
The solution of this paradox is that something has caused a change in the frame of reference switch, so φ has changed its sign, so it's as if GH is moving away from R (rather than the known fact that R accelerated away from GH).
This "something" is the deceleration of R, that is, the acceleration against the direction of movement of R (and therefore of GH).
Deceleration shows that movement in space is not symmetric in Reality, but only in overly simplified contexts.
Deceleration can also be measured along the length of the cosmic ruler. Deceleration decreases velocity, so it increases the time-cadence.
Space: It's possible that change makes space just as it makes time. In support of this is the fact that space has been observed to expand, that is, there is no static space that lacks change.
The quantum measurement problem: It's possible that the behavior of the observer is the effect rather than the cause (of the wave collapse). This means that instead of a wave collapsing when it's observed, the collapse causes the observer to observe it, that is, the observer looks in the direction where the wave collapses.
Gravitons: If there were gravitons, and they were to move with the speed of light, they would not be able to get out of black holes, just like light can't, which means that black holes would not exert gravity outside their event horizon.
Some people say that it's more likely for a Boltzmann brain to pop out of nothingness than it is for the Universe to appear out of nothingness.
This idea works only when making the assumption that the Universe is a probabilistic event that has started with all the complexity that it has now.
This assumption is flawed because the Universe is a progression that has started from a simple initial state and has progressed toward more and more complexity. Patterns don't require complexity, they create it during their manifestation and interaction, with every iteration. This process can be easily visualized in fractals which have very simple initial states but can create a virtually infinite variety of enormous complexity.
In contrast, a Boltzmann brain is a probabilistic / random event for its entire state, so it must start with its entire complexity, with all the laws of physics and biology that in this Universe have evolved in a progression to make the brain work, with a source of energy that must itself contain all the laws of physics that make it work, and with a shield that protects it from the void around. Absent any of these things, the brain would vanish before it has a single thought.
So, in fact, a Boltzmann brain requires everything that the Universe requires, but it needs everything to pop out of nothingness in their entirety rather than progress from the simple initial state that the Universe had. Therefore, a Boltzmann brain is far less likely (than a Universe) to pop out of nothingness.
It remains a problem to explain how Nature knows or does certain things.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that it's not known what change is, and what's the difference between movement (in space-time) and change (in the internal frame of reference). Could the movement in space be a translation in a 3D space, while change is a translation (of a 3D space) in the fourth dimension?
Movement in space is change which is external to a frame of reference, while movement in time is change which is internal to a frame of reference. Understanding this asymmetry is the key to moving forward in understanding Reality.
There are several promising interpretations of how the cadence of change in space-time works:
In complete void, without an accelerometer it's not possible for an observer to say which object has accelerated, so which is moving and which is at rest. Where do quanta get an accelerometer from, and how do they measure lengths?
How does a quanta that wants to decelerate away from the synchronized frame with another quanta, know what the direction of movement (of the synchronized frame) is, so that the frame of reference switch can get flipped?
Do people really know what Reality is? Is what people perceive real or an illusion?
By "illusion" people mean not real / false / wrong.
What people know about Reality is true, but this knowledge is incomplete, so the uncertainty of knowing is not a conceptual matter, but one of precision.
The human brain has done a good job of approximating and simplifying Reality, in the context of its limited sensorial input, for the purposes that are relevant to people. People do know what is real and what isn't, so long as it's immediately relevant to them. The fringe cases where people don't know what Reality is, don't invalidate what people do know.
For example, the fact that color doesn't exist in the Universe as a physical property (but only as a composite of several elements), doesn't mean that what people perceive as color is not real. Color is an interaction of real things, like the energy spectrum of light interacting with the eyes, that is simplified by the limited capacity of the human eyes and brain. Color is an emergent property of Reality, valid in the limited context of people (and other animals). So, the "illusion" of color is not a conceptual problem, but a matter of context and of precision of its description.
There is no illusion in the fact people die, that they feel pain, that the knowledge gathered by science has increased the human lifespan and has improved the human lifestyle.
While the knowledge of Reality will become more and more precise in the future, it doesn't invalidate the fact that what people do know works and improves their lives.
Since Reality is experienced through consciousness, it follows logically that consciousness is the fundamental element of Reality because you can't prove anything outside your own consciousness
This argument starts from an axiom which is flawed, that a proof within a subset is required to prove and explain its containing set.
Reality doesn't require anyone's proof or permission to exist.
Let's say that there are two possible ways in which Reality can be explained (but not necessarily proven): consciousness is fundamental, consciousness arises from the progression of the Universe.
If we presume that the first explanation can work, what is it about the second explanation that can't work just as well? Absolutely nothing. So, let's say that they both work just as well.
The remaining problem is that the people who believe in the first explanation require some sort of proof outside their own consciousness in order to believe the second explanation. So, this is not a problem of the entire set of Reality, but a problem of a subset of Reality who believe that entire set of Reality can't exist without them have some sort of internal proof.
While some people are deadlocked believing that Reality (outside their consciousness) can't be proven, science moves forward to explain Reality in ever greater detail, while at the same time improving people's lives through the created technologies, and this science progresses using the second explanation.
One wrong choice between the two possible axioms, in the initial state of the progression of humanity, has led to the waste of millennia with philosophy, superstition and religion that don't explain Reality.
On one side, science observes Reality existing outside of the human mind. On the other side, religion and superstition believe that Reality exists because something immaterial (that was never observed and quantified) and the human mind create it.
What's wrong with the idea that the (human) mind creates Reality?
It's self-centered. It's born from a feeling of absolute importance of humans in the Universe. Any theory that assigns humans the role of the source of Reality is the biggest observational bias, especially today when scientific observation shows that Earth is just a speck of dust in the Universe.
Why is observation / physical evidence so important? There is truth outside of the physical world.
Imagination is not constrained by Reality, so it can create anything. Therefore, without physical observation / evidence, it's impossible to know whether something imagined about the Universe is true.
Probabilistically speaking, in the absence of the constraints of Reality, it's more likely that imagination will create something which is not real rather than something which is real (in this Universe).
What's the difference between scientific speculation and faith?
The inability to observationally confirm or refute why the Universe exists and how it works has lead to the appearance of superstitions, religions and philosophies as means to address the personal preference of people to get consolation for the harshness of the world around. If history can be used to predict anything, it's that the explanations which require magic or a purpose, and hide complexity behind a short explanation (involving magic, because people can't handle complexity), are never the correct description of Reality.
Faith (in magical explanations) has no intention to ever have its claims observationally confirmed or refuted. The claim that a god has created the Universe would be called speculation, not truth, in science, because it can't be confirmed through observations. The lack of observational confirmation means that religion provides stories, not explanations of Reality.
Following the scientific method to speculate about Reality is not a problem so long as it's understood that it's speculation, not the real description of Reality. Of course, building on speculations results only in more speculation, until the whole train of thought can be observationally confirmed or refuted.
Has the Universe been created by a creator?
It's impossible to prove that something which is not observed either exists or doesn't exist, like a creator of the Universe. Saying that there is proof either way is an observational bias.
However, there is proof that, if the Universe has been created by a creator, it was not a benevolent creator. What is that proof? People have no free will, due to how the laws of physics work to progress the Universe. This means that the Universe progresses with people being unable to control their decisions, which means that the creator has created the Universe with all the evil that you see in it.
Does the indeterministic nature of change mean that people have free will?
People don't have control over either determinism and indeterminism, so they have no free will.
Life is too complex to have appeared from randomness
Life didn't appear out of randomness. Life is a progression. Life has progressed toward its current state based on a constrained selection process.
How is it possible for dumb fields, particles and atoms to get together to make intelligence and consciousness? Is there a field or particle of consciousness?
No. Rocks, toasters and robots are made of the same dumb elements, yet they are neither intelligent nor conscious. When AI will become conscious, it will be because its progression leads to consciousness, like it does in people.
What is the purpose of science?
Science is trying to decrease the observational bias by confirming / proving its claims through observations. Science isn't trying to prove that what isn't observable, like gods, doesn't exist.
Science is trying to make accurate predictions about the future, and is trying to understand the past in order to prevent some of it from repeating, all by explaining the causality of what is observable.
Can we say that science is correct about the way the Universe works? Yes, because it is the one that has improved human life the most. It is the one that has doubled the human lifespan, starting from about 1870...1900, through medicine and sanitation. It is the one that has put people on the Moon and machines on Mars. It is the one that has made all modern life possible with the: running tap (hot) water, food conservation on an industrial scale, steam, electricity, lightbulb, telephone, car, airplane, electronics, radio and television, computer, Internet. All of these were accomplished by first understanding how the Universe works.
In contrast, religions increase the observational bias by making claims which can't be proven through observations. Believing in the magic being special / chosen is an observational bias that gave birth to religions and philosophies that want there to be only one world, one life ecosystem, one intelligent species, one truth, one people holding the truth, one religion, and one god. Such a belief in the magic of uniqueness is the most fundamentally irrational thought that humankind obsessively holds on to.
X is not science because it can't be observed
That's true, but Reality doesn't care about people's observations and proofs. Reality doesn't require anyone's permission to be the way it is.
When there is no way to know how Reality got to the state that can be observed, logic is the best way to move forward and understand causality from the opposite point of view, that is, understand Reality from the inside-out, not only from the usual outside-in point of view. This logic has to be constrained by existing observations, but it's nevertheless a leap outside science.
Saying that X can't be observed and therefore should be ignored arises from a belief that Reality can be only in a way that people can observe it, so it's an observational bias.
The greatest revolutions in science can happen because, at an impasse, people can start to speculate and imagine what else could be the cause of the state which is observed. This process is not science, but speculation based on logic and previously observed constraints, it's scientific speculation.
Where are beauty and magic in a mechanistic Universe?
A person's emotional need for beauty and magic doesn't make them necessary in Reality. Nothing requires these to be fundamental properties of the Universe / Reality.
However, when I'm looking at a fractal (like the Mandelbrot set), I'm seeing both beauty and magic, even though I know they are created by a simple equation like f(z) = z ^ 2 + c
Similarly, I can see beauty and magic in the Universe even though I know that its structure is mechanistic. But I also know that what I see is born from a mind that has emotional needs, not from a mind that sees the fundamental structure of Reality, even though that mind can understand that structure.
Where is the consolation in this mechanistic Universe?
I'm looking for the truth about how reality works, I'm not trying to console people.
Saying that the equation of the Universe popped out of thin air is like saying that a god has created the Universe?
Gods have been created by people in order to give them the consolation that someone cares about them in a world plagued by evil. But to make gods care, they must have various properties. One such property is that in order to justify evil, people must have free will which allows them to do either good or bad things, as they choose, not as the gods have chosen for people.
An equation doesn't care about people and doesn't require the existence of free will. So, something which pops out of thin air doesn't require the properties of gods. This difference can't be any bigger.
Science destroys my faith
What is the implication of this? What should a civilization do in order to keep faith unchanged? Keep the masses in darkness, hide the truth, hide from reality? Lie, deceive, cheat, blackmail, torture, murder? What is the next step?