THE MARS BAR
 (Copyright (C) MJ Anderson 2015. All rights reserved.)

“Well if time is not a dimension, what is it?“

She looked blankly at me before a soft expression of frustration came over her.

“Come with me.” I followed her into the long transparent tube joining the space train with the docking station.

I always found this part of the trip unnerving. It was no doubt some architect’s idea of taking advantage of the opportunity, but whoever came up with the idea obviously never tested it. With no visible floor I kept wanting to fall over and after a long two day voyage I was already queasy from the sun’s refusal to set. If that wasn't enough she was walking way to fast for me. I could hardly keep up.

“Time is not a dimension. If time was a dimension then people would be correct to ask why we can't go back in time, you know, to the past.“

“Why can't we?“. I must have sounded to her like a five year old asking why he couldn’t go out to play.

Professor Jane Sidis was a stunningly beautiful young lady. I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by her even more stunning intellect. The calmness in her silky smooth voice only increased my willingness to believe anything she said. Even if she wasn't the smartest person in the world as some claimed, she was certainly one of the most beautiful women I had ever met.

She stopped and looked at me more seriously now. The light from the grey moon glowing behind her gave her an uncanny aura.

“Tell me, which way does the wind blow?” she enquired.

“What do you mean which way? It blows whatever way it is blowing.” I argued, trying to shake off this sense of being in the presence of a deity made human.

“Yes, that’s right. It either blows or it doesn’t. And if the wind blows it blows from the north, south, east or west. And it blows faster or slower. But it never blows forward or backward, right? “

“Now, let me think about that. Is this a trick question?“, I enquired, still fighting with my awe.

“NO!” She shouted. “LOOK. if you want to understand what we do here….”

She hesitated catching herself about to explode. I could see this wasn’t easy for her.

“I’m sorry. You’ll have to forgive my cynical wit. It’s been a long trip.”

“Of course, Mr Anderson” She let out a deep sigh.

“Look,” she continued, “what would it mean to say the wind is blowing backwards today? I mean have you ever seen a flag blow backwards?”

“You mean where the wind blows into the leading edge of the flag to the flagpole. No. Not recently.” Damn. I did it again. Would I ever be able to take this discussion seriously?

She ignored my insensitivity to her efforts to explain an incredibly difficult concept to what must have seemed like an imbecile. I felt awkward in her company and all this talk about wind with the faint smell of her perfume wafting under my nose wasn't helping me to focus.

“You see, the wind blows in a direction with a strength. The wind doesn't blow either forward or backward because those terms apply to a single dimension, like a train moving on a track. But time is like the wind. It moves in three dimensional space either faster or slower or not at all. But never backwards. Time is a vector with direction and speed, just like the wind is a vector. Except the wind is usually thought of in two dimensional space not three, but other than that they are both vector properties of space.

“So Time is a 3d vector not a fourth dimension of space.”

“Well, at a very simplistic level, that’s about as much as you’ll understand for now. We'll talk about gravity later, but there's something else you need to know. You may recall how Einstein pointed out that we are all moving through space at the speed of light? “

“Kinda rings a bell.” I was starting to hate my upbringing. If only I could respond in a way that conveyed how much I truly admired her, but the man in me had to be the man.

“Well we are. But he thought time was its own dimension and so in theory we could go either forward or backward in time right? “

“Let me guess he was wrong about that too? “ She was ignoring my compulsive banter now. There was a hint of anger in her methodical replies.

“So because time is a vector in three dimensional space, then we must be speeding through space, right?”

“That was my next question. I’ve always wondered about that tiny detail. How can we be racing though space at the speed of light and not notice something as profound as that? And beside which direction are we heading and why don’t we collide with anything in the time dimension - vector – tensor thingy?”

“Well you could ask Einstein how we can be racing though anything at the speed of light and not realise it full stop.”

“Point taken. But of course he’s dead. So what do you people say? “. I finally sounded like I was more interested in what she was saying than her.

“Einstein was right and wrong. We are not moving though so called Minkowski space-time at the speed of light but rather, Euclidian 3d space is collapsing into us at the speed of light and enabling motion to transpire in a universal oscillating asynchronicity that we call time.”

“What? Oh boy. .. Can I sit down somewhere Professor Sidis? I need a drink.”

“Yes of course. Over here.”

We headed toward the small sparsely populated bar in the waiting lounge. The air had a familiar sweet aroma thanks to the environment conditioning. But it was all artificial, like the gravity. Nothing here was real. Even the alcohol was Claytons. Drugs were banned here, and what you got to consume was strictly controlled.

“Can you get my friend a, … sorry…. What will you have? “

“Oh just something LIGHT… “ I retorted facetiously, hoping to win a smile from her. I turned to the waiter desperate for some relief from this intellectual roller-coaster. “Scotch on the rocks please.”

“Certainly sir.”

“Look. It’s pretty simple, but takes some explaining. Ok, let me take a different tack. So when you’re back on earth and you watch the sunset, you see the horizon, right.”

“Sure.”

“It’s a straight line separating the surface of the earth from the distance of space. And the horizon there is a one dimensional line.”

“Now look out there. What does the earths horizon look like – the bit that divides earth and space – what form does it take ?”

“Here you are sir, Scotch on the rocks”. I took the drink from the waiters hand before he had a chance to rest it on the bar and threw it back as fast as I could. I must have looked like an alcoholic. I looked down through the glass floor at the blue green planet far beneath us. Pretty well every wall here was see through. My hand was shaking uncontrollably, and the ice cubes were rattling embarrassingly as I put the now empty glass back on the bar.

“Well,” I said wiping my mouth. “…it’s like a circle around the earth if you don’t count the part inside the circle as the horizon.”

“That’s right it’s a two dimensional circle.” she said like a schoolteacher praising a bright student.

“Now, think about this. What does the horizon look like if you are inside the earth? Imagine its hollow like a bubble and you can only see the surface – what does the horizon look like now ?”

“Ok, Well strictly speaking I can’t see the horizon at all. I can maybe see by deduction where the horizon might begin, and if it’s anything it would have to be a sphere, from the inside of course.”

“Very good. So something you thought was one dimensional is apparently two dimensional, then three dimensional depending on where you view it from. Now hold that thought and replace the earth with the known universe and the horizon with the beginning of time and there you have it - a bubbl-iverse floating in the infinite void of darkness where light has never penetrated.”

“bubbl-iverse ?”

She smiled, at last.

"Yes bubbl-iverse… I know, it’s a weird term, but then I have a weird sense of humour. The infinite void is a fundamental metric we can define as both void and infinite. It marks the boundary of all finite space, and the void itself is what we call pure space. This pure-space remains even after an intrusion occupies it. However, any intrusion triggers an instability in pure space and it starts to collapse, or more correctly implode, into the intrusion.”

"Intrusion?"

"Oh sorry, yes I should have explained. An intrusion is anything that tries to enter the void. It could be mass or energy or anything at all.

“Ok, but what if there are multi-verses – you know – multiple universes – bubbl-iverses?”

“Then they are just more bubbl-iverses floating in the void.”

“Ok. I can dig that.' I signalled to the waiter – "Another scotch please.”

“So here’s the clever part. We can use a mathematical concept which may or may not be real to explain how earth and everything on it can be flying through time at the speed of light.”

“Just wait a minute till I’ve got my drink can you.”

We paused and watched the bar tender pour out the neat non-alcoholic drink over a fresh crush of ice.

“Here you are, sir”. This time I let him put it on the bar.

“Ok, I’m ready.”

“We define the void of space as being infinitely expandable and infinitely compressible. And we know this is valid mathematically because there is nothing in pure space – it’s completely void. Not even time exists because there is nothing that has mass, momentum or energy to make time tick. Not even Euclidian space exists in the void because there is no mass to give it presence. Its mass that exists in only three dimensions, not space. Space itself is infinitely dimensional. Without mass, there is no concept of three dimensional space. So this is the fascinating part that changes everything about the way we understand spacial reality. The infinite void may or may not even physically exist except perhaps at the plank length. But the model we use says it exists and it extends infinitely, and which is the same as saying it doesn't actually exist because there is nothing there.”

“Yeah, but what about all those light rays heading toward the void – they have time – mass, momentum and energy I mean – they must create a reference frame you can’t ignore, and therefore make time meaningful even in the void?”

“You’re talking about the specious present. Not at all. Even in Einstein’s theory, reference frames only exist where there are two of them. That’s what “relativity” means - one relative to another. You can’t have just one reference frame and say something meaningful about what happens generally at some undefined point in the void of pure space.”

“Ok, that seems to make some kind of weird sense. But I’m not so sure about infinitely expanding voids, where does that come into it.”

“And infinitely compressible. Ahhh….! yes this is the beauty of it all. This is the part I love the most.” Her eyes lit up with a childish excitement.

“It turns out that when anything intrudes into the void, and of course the first thing to intrude is light, well what happens is that the void tries to consume it. Kind of like nature abhors a vacuum except in reverse. The void abhors everything. So if something having mass, energy or momentum enters the void, then the infinite void, or pure space, starts imploding on it. Now unfortunately for the void, it hasn’t a hope of achieving anything physical out of this because it can’t do anything except expand and contract, but it can do this infinitely and non-energetically. So it starts imploding faster and faster according to the momentum or energy mass of the intrusion. This implosion starts the tick of what we call time, but time won’t actually form properly until pure space is has accelerated to a critical point that counterbalances the momentum of the light passing through it. That point is the universal constant we know as speed of light. Light would be instantaneous throughout the void of pure space if the void did not collapse into it, and slow it down. Thus the void and momentum combine and offset each other to create a time constant, and anything that has a threshold momentum at the quantum level acquires time. Without that minimum momentum, pure space will slow down and ultimately stop, creating dark matter and its energy counterpart dark energy. These are simply free quantum particles that do not have sufficient momentum to accelerate the spacial implosion to light speed. They still have a time component but it runs more slowly, and doesn’t easily interact with everything else ticking at light speed. These particles are out of synch with the universal clock that ticks at the speed of light. Mostly their clocks are still accelerating to, or decelerating from, lightspeed, but it gets complicated. There is also grey matter..”

“Oh! Grey matter – and let me guess - that must be the mind of God?“

“Very droll.” She smiled again. Maybe I could date this magnificent person after all.

“Just a moment, while I consume a little something myself. Waiter – another scotch please. Ok – keep going, this is getting good.”

“So as I was saying, in a nutshell, the intrusion of mass and energy into pure space takes on the initial characteristics of what we call grey matter and grey energy. As the void gradually accelerates into it to the limit of light speed, it acquires time synchronicity with what we already understand as energy and matter, and which we now distinguish as light energy and light matter. This is just matter and energy in their rest state having acquired the motion potential called "time" from the void imploding at the speed of light. If the intrusion is not massive enough, the matter or energy never advances beyond the dark or grey state. Or at least never achieves the light state - that is, light speed through the void collapsing on it. An asynchronous time state is created where time does not achieve synchronisation with the rest of the matter and energy in the universe. They do not have the same cosmic resonance or frequency.”

“Let me jump the gun here… is light a wave or a particle?”

“Nice try. We don’t have time to go into that now. You have to understand the wave nature of matter before…”

“The wave nature of matter? I am a wave?!?”. By now I was artificially drunk.

“Let’s not get into semantics. I think you’ve had enough to drink Mr Anderson. In any case, I need to prepare for the trip to Mars. I’ll see you back at the gate in two hours then shall I?

[Copyright (C) 2015 Marcus Anderson - Creative Commons license use only]

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