My previous two posts in this series have speculated as the possible mechanisms by which consciousness may arrive and be experienced by the human individual. I now turn my attention to the question of the third component that creates the experience, that of time. At its basic definition, time is a direction which the individual experiences consciousness, usually defined by the biological body. However, it has been asserted by many great scientific thinkers that time is an illusion. Albert Einstein famously stated “This distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion.”
Current scientific theories are now actively promoting the concept that time is actually in reality, a series of 3 dimensional frames and that these frames are present at all times from both past, present and future. The simplest analogy to use would be the role of cinematic film with its series of captured images. The direction of time, times arrow as it is known is discussed in many books but at this present time, my thinking is influenced by this book that I am currently reading.
The concepts are quite involved and I could not do them justice without trying to do a post that would be at least 3000 words, which would not benefit anyone, so I’ll try to incorporate the general ideas with my own. To get around the many of the problems of a physical universe, science is now becoming quite fluid in its approach. This fluidity is now encroaching into areas previously assigned to the realms of the mystical. For many of the current models to work, there has to be an imposition of extra dimensions, dimensions that have been variously described by different physicists over the last 30 years or so. Here is one of the more generally known.
Our experience of time may be a result of our biological processes that create the direction our brain experiences these frames. If the premise that these frames exist in the universe individually and independently is correct, then time would be the mechanism used to direct the progression of these frames through the human or other biological brain. This tying of time to the biological brain is well evidenced by studies that have shown that animals experience time differently to humans. The difference seems to be that the human brain seems to possess a larger hard drive (to use a computer analogy) which provides humanity with a larger capacity for memory (episodic memory) and the ability to foresee or pre-empt the future, something not evidenced at all in the animal world.
If time is the direction by which we experience our lives, then much like a cinematic projector, it would appear to be reasonable to assume that different rates or increases in the numbers of these frames the brain processes could affect our perception of time. It is commonly evidenced that at times of great stress, such as in near death experiences caused by accidents, the perception of time slows for the affected individual. One may assume that if the frame reality of time is correct, then the brain may actually be processing a greater number of frames and much like a projector, if you speed up the number of frames processed in a given time, for example, lets say the brain process 20 to 40 frames per second to create “ordinary” reality (reality experienced as normal by the individual), then if that process accelerates to 60 frames per minute, reality will appear to be slowed down because of this information overload. Inversely, if we reduced the number of frames to say 10 frames per minute, then the resultant reality will appear to speed up. However, unlike a mechanistic projector that would present these images in a sometimes disjointed way because the change of information may be greater than we usually evidence, there are studies that suggest that the brain may actually “fill” these gaps by using information gained previously or may even “best guess” in anticipation. This best guess ability may be why, when questioned about a situation, witnesses sometimes appear to come up with conflicting information. One individual’s processing abilities may not be quick enough to deal with all the information so that individual’s perception is partially built by their brain filling in the gaps, whereas another individual’s processing power may be sufficient to do the job accurately.
Another of the current models of science at this time is the many worlds syndrome which I have dealt with before. Part of this asserts that all possible outcomes for interactions are present in the cosmos and that reality is a coming together of the greater number of similar outcomes. Assuming that the frames of reality scenario is correct, then one more function of the brain may be assimilation of these other realities. Think of this like a giant zipper, but instead of just two sides zipping together, many sides from different areas are thus zipped together to form our reality. The greatest number of similar scenarios present are zipped together resulting in our reality and time is the direction with which these realities are zipped together thus creating ordinary reality. The greater number of similar realities zipped together result in a cohesive and stable environment, but if this zipping ability varies from individual to individual and some individuals zip realities not so similar in outcomes, then their perception of reality may vary from what may be considered to be the “norm”. They are susceptible to a greater number of different frames of reality and as such, may experience reality differently.
This also raises the possibility that because this processing in humans is fixed, although I suspect that the rate of information the human may assimilate may be increasing because of technology, assuming one accepts the premise of other life forms, they may possess the ability to zip realities together much in the same way as humanity although their rates of zipping may be different from ours and as such our two realities may not be synchronized the same, resulting in different realities. Because we do not share the same rate of reality zipping as them, our perception of them is limited, however, if we can alter our rate of zipping by such practices as meditation, we may place ourselves in a position of creating a rate similar to theirs and as such, may actually change our own reality and therefore may have some limited experience of their reality.