Quantum Views of Time

Another way of looking at Destiny, Kismet, Fates.


It’s a thought experiment, so imagine you are standing at the single opening on the far left. Everything to the right, we’ll consider the past. Were you to look back, you’d see the events by which you define yourself, your memories, and so on. It can change over the years, but generally the narrative becomes more entrenched the older we get. We edit our memories to suit the story of our lives. That’s the past.

The present is the only time in which we can act. Biologically, this generally amounts to three steps: What do I need? Where am I? What do I do next? In simplest terms, I’m hungry, I’m in the living room. I go to the kitchen. What about on a larger scale? Will I have enough to eat next year? Will our nation still have fertile agriculture in 50 years? Those actions are far more distant, and require far more energy from each of us.

The future would be the waves, which I think of as what is possible. Whatever’s closest to you, that is very probable. Like finding something to eat in the kitchen within a few seconds. The further ahead it is, the less probable it is. As long as we don’t go running after the impossible, we can eventually get there.

In terms of Quantum observations, the wave equation defines the possible locations of a particle (like the future – what is possible), once you measure it, the wave collapses and you pinpoint the particle (either its position or momentum). Once you make a choice, take an action, it shifts from being possible to being. The particulars of the choice become the particle in the past.

Sitting at a restaurant (I think I’m hungry), I review the menu. What’s listed is the most probable (but they might be out). If I were to order off-menu, it would require more energy, as it is less probable, given the context. I order something. They deliver something else by mistake. I eat it anyway. That’s the moment I would say that all the possibilities finally collapse to a type of acceptance, a choice, a decision.


Now imagine the same idea with two people. I’m standing in my present moment, and someone else is standing in theirs, and we’re both trying to decide what actions to take. I see the possibilities before me, but so does this other person. And they aren’t the same. Not exactly. We see our context from two different perspectives. This creates interference, either positive (super) or negative (cancelling out). A simple version is to imagine that you and the other person augment that which you agree on, and negate that which you don’t. Forget about your differences and see what great heights you can achieve together. Now multiply that by over 7 billion and add all the conflicting interests and points of view, and you get the world.

simple, no?

The reason I bring this up, as with most things about time, isn’t to dive headfirst into the world of Quantum physics (the math and abstraction are beyond me). It’s to take an aspect of the development of quantum theory.

Counting time from 0 can reinforce this notion. The reason is that like seconds, minutes, hours, we don’t assign a number to a measure of time until it is completed. 1 o’clock means one hour has passed since the beginning of the day at midnight. 2:32 means that we are in the 3rd hour and 33rd minute, not yet counted. We can assign numbers to future times for scheduling, but these numbers refer again to the time that will have passed when we’re in that particular present moment. So our current moment, whether we think of it as a second, hour, day, year, is present, and sill in progress. It add’s a sense of dynamism, and puts us in the role as actor.

The present is the only time in which we can act. If we think of ourselves in the present (instead of worry about the past and panicking over the future), we may better act to resolve our worries and panic.

So in a sense, we live in this current moment to manifest what is possible into a historical narrative.



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