CTS: Time

The Stuff and Time

I will consider the potential for two constructs of time; firstly there may be a time construct that is generated or required by the stuff to enable its dynamics. This, ‘stuff-time’ would be independent of consciousness. The second construct of time is that which we perceive and at this point I assume that, what I will term, ‘our time’ is not necessarily the same construct as stuff-time but it is assumed that stuff-time would play a part in the construct of ‘our time’


In this section I want to consider some of the possible ways that a complex stuff could give rise to time that is an integral part of the nature of the stuff and is external to our consciousness.

Stuff-time is apart from the stuff

I had to add this option for completeness however as I define the stuff as everything there can be nothing extraneous to the stuff and therefore this option is not considered as we end up back where we started!

Stuff-time is a complex pure property of the stuff

If stuff-time were a pure property of the stuff then it is difficult to see how it would not be in itself a complex and dynamic pattern, which then would require another stuff-time. Also it would seem that stuff-time would have to interact with all other pure properties at all points in stuff-space and at all scales to illicit homogeneous cause and effect. As this stuff-time would have complex behaviour one would expect the resulting behaviours of all patterns within the stuff to be complex and lead to a stuff-time that was highly variable, even chaotic and that would vary with scale and region of stuff-space.

Stuff-Time is a large scale simple periodic pattern

It could be that one or more pure properties have had a state transition to a simple periodic pattern. This pattern of pure properties must have inter-property interactions that result in some kind of dampening of other interactions to cause a regular ‘beat’ to the dynamics of the stuff.

Stuff-Time is a self-ordered fractal structure

It may be that the pure property that gives rise to time could undergo self-organisation into a stable, regular and recursive structure (fractal). In effect the structure would act as cells that would initiate interactions between the components of other pure properties within hence controlling the flow of events and creating cause and effect. In this case stuff time is a very different construct to our time, although one could say that it is an absolute time. The questions being asked here can be applied to a construct of space. I have already been considering that stuff-space-time is in fact a regular fractal structure with which other pure properties interact. Our understanding of self-organisation would suggest that if a phase transition occurred to create such a stuff-time then it would not propagate from a specific point but emerge at all points concurrently. If this were not the case then we may have detected cosmological inconsistencies due to a propagation of time through what we term space. This will be discussed separately but my current view is that this idea is a possible option.

There is no Stuff-Time

Our time is all pervasive and it is difficult to detach, ‘our time’ from any construct, however I propose that the fundamental characteristic that causes the stuff to change is instability and that we consider that instability can exist without time but instead it is instability that creates a rhythm within the stuff. From the stuff’s perspective there is no need for a stuff time just a need for instability throughout stuff-space. I believe this to be a reasonable option to consider.

Our Time

I now want to consider the time that we perceive and describe in our physics, a time that I term, and ‘our time’.

Our time is stuff-time (if it exists)

If stuff-time exists then it would be a dominant property and it would seem reasonable that our time is of the same nature as stuff-time.

Our time is an emergent property of the stuff

Whether stuff-time exists or not it is still possible for what we perceive as a property of time to emerge from the complexity. However this emergent property of time that we perceive would have to extend across a seemingly vast range of our spatial scales in a highly consistent manner. This is not the way that we observe or understand the general phenomena of emergence. An emergent behaviour tends to occur at a specific macro scale due to the interactions at lower micro-scales (Holvoet, 2005). So if time were an emergent property it is unlikely to either be present or of the same nature at different scales. This would seem an unlikely alternative however to dig deeper into this possibility I need to investigate the idea of stuff-space-time being a fractal pure property.

Is our time an intellectualised property derived from our perception of our universe at the scales at which we perceive it?

We can only measure to a limiting scale due to the fact that we cannot control the state or initial conditions of a probe pattern that is of similar scale to the target that we wish to measure. In our universe that scale is below the quantum scale.

At all larger scales we are capable of measuring highly ordered and cyclic behaviours some of which we use to compare all others and they become our standard units of ‘operational time’.

We are also aware of the passing of time due to the fact that at scales beyond the quantum level we are able to encode state information, which in essence is the same as measurement. This gives us memory, which in itself requires stability and this facility of memory enables us to have a history and hence we can perceive events as a sequence of encoded patterns and time seems to have a direction and flow.

There are many aspects of our perceived universe that conspire to produce the idea that time flows in a direction dictated by the all-encompassing idea of cause and effect. Time is unique in that it not only supplies the backdrop to our objective perception of the universe but also to our emotional being; we are born, grow up, have children and watch them grow and we live through it all in time, or so it seems. So I am not sure how objective humans can be about time.

One of the most influential reasons why we may view time as in some manner a real entity as opposed to an intellectual creation is the fact that relativity has shown ‘time’ to have changed relative to time in another frame of reference. However once again we are making such statements through the use of operational time in the reference frame from which we make the measurement. This does not mean that there is not a fundamental change in the way the system changes relative to another, but time may not be an integral requirement of the cause.

My contention is that we measure and perceive time in a range of scales with which we are capable of sustaining an interaction chain that leads to a perceived measurement or observation. This is a weak anthropic argument.


But if the stuff has no stuff-time and is just a system of instabilities at some scale all of the ways in which we detect time will no longer be meaningful, however by definition this sale is one at which we cannot interact or measure. At this scale the components of stuff are so simple and their behaviour so complex and hence uncertain that it would be impossible for us to encode states in a way that is accessible so there would be no history only the now. Furthermore the component’s highly complex behaviour would mean that its direction toward any particular characteristic would also be meaningless. Our time at this point breaks down an idea that is most certainly one that is considered by many physicists, albeit not explained from this perspective.

We can now ask which constructs of ‘stuff-time’ and ‘our time’ combine to give the strongest argument for their mutually dependent existence. The table below attempts to summarise what has been said above and identify likely candidates.



Based on Stuff-Time Emergent property of stuff An intellectual construction
STUFF-TIME IS… External to the stuff

(not considered)

A complex pure property


Very unlikely as our-time and stuff-time would be complex. Possible that variable stuff time gives rise to additional complexity and enables emergent time. Possible that we do not detect the variable stuff time as a time, but as just fluctuation.
A self-organised fractal property


Likely as this would be a consistent and regular time and if a space-time fractal then would support relativistic effects (see later). Possible but unnecessary as we have stuff-time and would expect to perceive inconsistencies between the two times. Stuff time exists and we can perceive it so unlikely.
Non-existent only instability (possible) Not Possible Possible but likely that emergent time would be scale variant; something we do not detect. Likely in this scenario.


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