Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Walking the Planck

Based on the incredibly tiny Planck scale, the smallest unit of time is the time it takes a photon traveling at the speed of light to travel the Planck length of 1.616253x10^-35 meters. That's about ten sextillionths the length of a single proton. Smaller than that, matter completely disappears in a "foam" of virtual quantum fluctuations.
We know all about minutes, seconds, hours (relatively speaking). What if that infinitesimal Planck time unit is the mathematical definition of the elusive "moment"?

The human brain can know things that are beyond belief. It can perform calculations in an instant beyond the capapbilities of any supercomputer. So possibly it can apprehend that tiny slice of Planck time.

In EnlightenNext #46, Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose speculate that the microtubule molecular structures in the brain demonstrate quantum behavior and and are basically responsible for consciousness, which in its endlessly mercurial nature can be regarded as a quantum phenomenon. What if the apprehension of Planck time--call it a moment--is basically being conducted at the Planck scale and results in the creation of the subjectivity, without which something like what we call a moment cannot exist?

Perhaps the deja-vu experience is the instantaneous cognition of a time-loop phenomenon happening at the Planck scale, perhaps an operation of mini-black holes ingesting and disgorging time itself. So the feeling of strangely reexperiencing something could be, as opposed to an actual reliving of an event, rather a recursive quantum time phenomenon that is grasped intuitively from the microtubule level. Programmatically, that would be a "Do loop" on the level of original creation functionality.

Consciousness arises because of a recursive process--there is a flash of self-reflection, caused by the time loop. This implicates time on the quantum level with the arising of consciousness which allows the identification of time as a primary process (the moment) from which comes time as a secondary process (all measurable time). This is a major shift from the present paradigm in physics which has demoted time from being a principle underlying the physical universe. There is an article in the current Scientific American about this by a guy named Callender (ha!). I wonder if we may have to actually return to reconsider Newton's concept of "absolute time" from a new perspective in order to reestablish time as being more than an unnecessary artifact of an outdated physics.