Fractals and Time, Part 4: Light, Matter, and Memory


So this is the fourth and final installment of a series on Fractals and Time. For Part I, see here, Part II is here, and Part III is here.

Light. Such a perspective can be more fully fleshed out if we examine the peculiar temporal state of light. Many researchers have argued that light exists in fact outside of time, and that what we see is simply the manner in which the interactions of light with matter keep dragging light into spacetime, and in the process, expanding one photon into what appears like many.

As an entity approaches the speed of light, all that which is around one seems to speed up in time, and all that is aligned with the movement approaching the speed of light increasing in length (giving rise to the lines of light which many sci-fi fictions imagine travellers would see instead of point-like stars). At its breaking point, as one hits the speed of light, all space going in the direction of one’s travel would become infinite, destroying any ability to see in front or behind one, as one’s sides literally swallow one’s front and back, all time outside one would become infinitely fast, and one’s own time would appear infinitely slow to those outside.

What would it be like for an entity moving at the speed of light when it ‘encounters’ matter? When a photon hits matter, it may bounce off at a different angle, or may be absorbed, such as what happens when a photon makes an electron jump in level to excited state. When the electron falls back down to its original state, it releases a photon, and this also travels, as do all photons, at the speed of light. What would a photon, if it could experience, experience of these interactions? Photons would continually jump between timelessness and moments where they are jerked back into time.

From the perspective of a timeless, moving photon, these moments in time could not be said to be before or after each other, for these terms become meaningless when one hits the speed of light and is truly outside time. So all the separate moments within time can be thought of as existing ‘at the same time’, or ‘smeared across spacetime’, within the timeless existence of a single, undivided photon, which then appears in many spacetimes at once across the universe. It is for this reason that famed physicist John Wheeler suggested that it may be possible that all photons in our universe are actually multiple appearances of one photon, refracted into many by the process of being ‘expanded’ into spacetime by means of interaction with extended matter.

But what about matter? Why does matter experience time? One phenomenon which may shed some light on this is that of gravitational lensing, in which the image of one stellar body appears multiple times due to the way in which a massive body’s gravitational pull distorts the light coming towards earth. Gravitational lensing explains the way in which one image can become several due to the effects of gravity on light. If gravity can multiply the images of matter due to the interaction of matter with light, it would seem that truly extreme gravity, like that of the Big Bang, would infinitely multiply the image of matter, till it was in fact everywhere, holographically projected.

Conversely, what if the matter we observe is simply the unfolding of what was originally distributed throughout an early, compacted quantum state? If the original matter were ‘smeared’ across space in a quantum state, the its unfolding may give rise to something like the extended state we observe today. From such a perspective, matter and light begin to seem like two sides of the same coin, with matter dividing light from itself, just as matter increasingly localizes as gravity decreases. And since the emission of photons from matter gives rise to the energy that powers, producing the energy that gives rise to all the rhythmic mechanical and biological processes which allow organisms to gain a sense of the flow of time, might it not be the intersection of matter and light, rhythmically pulsing between time and timelessness, which gives rise to the flow of time?

Layering. Can memory be accounted for by fractal processes? Some theorists have argued that just as time can be concieved as the expansion of a fractal space, such an expansion would be percieved by an observer as not an outfolding but an infolding. This would only be furthered by the flow of energy which is layered on top of the expansion of what is, giving rise to a second level echo of this infolding.

It is in this manner that even though the expansion of the universe is proceeding rather slowly relative to our present state, the flow of energy which emerged therefrom is not. These energetic processes give rise to the material clocks which found the biological clocks whose cojoined rhythms give rise to the experience of lived time. Humans live within a constant influx of energy from the sun, and yet that influx is continually fighting against the general tendency of all that is to disintegrate due to the collective forces of entropy. Only the constant influx of energy keeps complex systems in a state which maintains and/or increases in complexity. The forward pulse of material and biological evolution, which produce the clocks which produce our sense of time, have been themselves put in motion precisely by the energetic flows of energy from the sun which counter the continual pull of entropy.

Such a movement of time could occur in this way no matter if energy is flowing into or out of a system, so long as the general direction of the system as a whole which sets the clocks, so to speak, follows one direction at a time. Memory occurs when experiences which have occurred are layered into those which continue to unfold.

If we conceive of a local experience of time as the progress of a line which is zooming into a larger three dimensional fractal, and energetic flow as echoing these processes, we can imagine memory as the layering of a primary set of experiences into those which follow, in the manner in which a prime layers into itself in a fractal. Primary experiences describe the general shape of not zooming into a fractal, but rather, zooming out of a fractal, with original experiences feeling more distant, yet ever layered into the wider and wider experiences which come.

Memory in this sense can be concieved of as an inside out mirror image, like a Klein bottle, of the fractal model of spacetime which we have previously described. While such a fractal would have a start, as these memories continue to enfold themselves, they give rise to echoes in a wide variety of permutations, each refractions of the original. If each of these primaries are nevertheless refractions of an aspect of a fractal, holographic whole, then in a sense all the memories that ever existed could be produced by the complex infolding of an incredibly complex yet ultimately timeless pattern. From such an experience, the repetition of primaries in memory would give rise to cycles in memory whereby recognition could develop, and from this it would be possible to establish relations to objects, cycles within objects, and ultimately time metrics.

Lived time, however, would feel more dense or less dense depending on the degree to which recalled memories were enfolded into a present moment, or the present were experienced relatively free of such detailing. The experience of images fading and arising from memory may then be more an effect of the limited resolution of the human brain, even though all experience is laden through and through with memory, if in differing degree. Such memory can be thought of simply as an enfolding of the past in the present, and anticipation within the present as the fantasized projected mixture of such memories to imagine possible future states. And if, as some researchers have argued, the looping of dopmaine around certain circular channels in the brain provides us with a basic internal clock, then the ratio of the density of memory compared to this internal cycle could give rise to the sensation of the stretching or condensing of time experienced by humans in a wide variety of situations.


~ by chris on October 21, 2010.

2 Responses to “Fractals and Time, Part 4: Light, Matter, and Memory”

  1. I was rather happy to discover this web page.I needed to thank you for this terrific study.

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