Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Big Heap, Time and Network Configuration

recursive painting

As Lee Smolin tries to ask us, to ask ourselves, if, for interpreting quantum cosmological theory, there may be available a language that does not presume that time and change have meaning, he conjures Julian Barbour, who argues that clock-time cannot work in a quantum theory of gravity.

Julian Barbour's Big Heap:
Time has no fundamental meaning at all.

The universe is a great collection of moments, each one a snapshot of the universe, a simple configuration of things. This collection of all moments is The Heap.

The Heap contains a great many moments, but there is no sense in which the different moments can be ordered in time. They simply just are.

The quantum state of the universe serves only one function, which is to give the probability that any given moment may be found in this collection.

All physical laws reduce to one question: A godlike being reaches into the heap and pulls out a moment. What is the probability that such a randomly selected moment will have some particular characteristic? To describe this, we need no notion of time or change. Nothing is changing in time because there is no time - the whole heap just is.

Each moment is structured as to give us the impression that other moments also exist. We have memories as evidence that can only mean that other moments must have happened in the past, like "time capsules" (Barbour) - aspects of the configuration of a moment that speak to us of other moments.

Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos, 1997, Oxford (p289)

Despite my paraphrasing, the words structure and configuration are used by Smolin, and hence, they do make us think about a big heap of things, or nodes, connecting to each other - a network. 

Filaments of Creation
Tom Theuns  /  Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, 2010
In this computer model of the early universe, gravity arranges matter in thin filaments.

since we're talking about quantum cosmology

In his book, Bursts, A.L. Barabasi forces us to re-imagine time. It is not made of regular intervals; that is to say, people do not ‘do things’ at regular intervals. Instead, people do lots of things in short bursts of time, and then go for long durations doing nothing at all.

Our use of/working with social computational dynamics is forcing us to fine-tune the resolution of our time structures, revealing something akin to Einsteinian space. Some kind of strange gravity draws near to it (timewise) the bulk of our activities.

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi
aka Algo Rhythm
aka The Dimensional Liberator

In logic, the time that an algorithm requires to complete cannot be measured, as it is not apparently related with our customary physical dimension.
(via wiki:Algorithm)

A.L. Barabasi, Bursts, 2010
A Bit on Networks

(Another Aside) a world of increasingly pervasive surveillance, location and identity are becoming all but inextricable:

New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time
The Washington Post, Feb 2014

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