iSoul In the beginning is reality

3D time in ancient culture

I’m returning to a topic I wrote about here: time in ancient culture and thought.

Look at Genesis 1, verse 3:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.

Now a modern person is thinking spatially and expecting God to separate the place of light from the place of darkness. So the next verse would be expected to say something like, “God called the light Sunnyland, and the darkness he called Shadyland.” But instead Genesis is written in a temporal way, and it says “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Later, space arises within time, contrary to the modern way of imagining that space came first and time was added.

Modern people describe how far away a place is by referring a length but it seems this way of speaking wasn’t common until the Roman road system. Before that (and even during the Roman era) distances were given in terms of how many day’s journey it was, that is, the travel time of a typical traveler. Also, maps were rare and crude so spatial representations were lacking. People’s mental maps must have been in units of time (duration), not space (distance).

Moderns look at the (night) sky as outer space, a vast spatial expanse. But for ancient people the sky was first of all a calendar and a clock: the positions of the heavenly bodies told them the time of the year, the time of the month, and the time of day. The sky was also an aid to navigation so maps were not necessary. The sky, the calendar, and navigation were united in the zodiac.

Ancients used a geostationary (geocentric) frame of reference, which is characterized by a zero speed, that is, all speeds were relative to the frame, as though it were absolute. This is the complement to Galilean relativity: space is absolute (1D) but time is relative (3D). Space is a river, and time is the sky.

In that case the characteristic speed c is zero, or equivalently, the characteristic pace is infinite, and the gamma factor is one. To make this fully relativistic requires recognizing the finite pace (1/c) of light in 1D space and 3D time (see here). Tachyons galore!

What difference does this make? Moderns think of the universe primarily in spatial terms, and wonder how the vast expanse could be created in a short time. But ancients thought of the universe primarily in temporal terms, and were amazed by the order of the heavens and the God of that order.

Les Déplorables

2016 presidential candidate Clinton’s remark that half of her opponent’s supporters are “a basket of deplorables”, which means they are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic”, triggered strong negative reactions. Calling millions of ordinary citizens such names shows more about the speaker than it does about the apparent referents.

There must be a new acronym here; how about “SHRIX” for these phob-isms? (Phob-ism here means an ideologically-defined phobia or ism.) This acronym encapsulates the progressive narrative about America: that Americans are SHRIX, and can never do enough to earn a non-SHRIX descriptor. (So salvation from SHRIX is by faith alone? Hardly. Progressivism is works-based.)

Daniel Henniger’s Sept. 14th Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on Les Déplorables called it “the revolt of the politically incorrect”. People have had enough of this name-calling. Like many others I do not consider myself to be at all SHRIX but I’m sure a progressive would consider me SHRIX in their eyes. At a minimum there is a breakdown of communication. But there’s also a breakdown of what society — and politics — is about.

2016 presidential candidate Trump’s deplorable side has received much press. That makes it easier to write off his supporters. But people with a variety of political views are very cynical about politics, about politicians, and about the political system. They want an “outsider”, someone who is not a politician, who speaks from their heart, and who challenges the political status quo. Well, here’s your candidate. Beware of what you ask for.

Red is commonly associated with the Left and républicanisme, but in the US today it is associated with the Republican Party. At this point the Left is the Establishment and the next revolution will have to come from another direction. What that direction is no-one knows but the birth pangs are beginning.

One does not have to go back far in history to find views that today would be very SHRIX were very mainstream. Our ancestors were SHRIX. We’re sons and daughters of the SHRIX. Does that mean the generations of today can look down on their ancestors? Hardly. If our ancestors knew what people today were doing, they would be quick to condemn us for many things — and they would be right. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)

Relativity at any speed

This is a summary of posts (such as here and here) about the application of relativity theory to transportation. This is different from applying theories of physics to other subjects such as economics since here it is real relativity, not some analogy. However, the application is an approximation, but that is the nature of transportation, which has both physical and social aspects.

Transportation (or transport) modes are means of transporting goods and/or people. The common modes are roads (including motorized and non-motorized modes), railroad (passenger and freight), pipeline, maritime (ferry and shipping modes), air (aviation), etc. One can consider information a good and the telecommunication of information as a form of transportation. In that sense any signal or high-speed particle can be considered a mode of transportation.

Transportation is subject to a variety of obstacles, including excess volume per available capacity (called congestion) and stoppages caused by crashes, storms, construction, or other disruptions (which may also cause congestion). There may be complicating factors such as the mixing of modes (e.g., bike and pedestrian traffic).

The minimum, maximum (free-flow), or typical speeds of a transportation mode are characteristic of the transportation mode as a system, rather than the speed of a particular vehicle or particle (even though a particular vehicle or particle might have this value in a particular context). As such, these characteristic or modal speeds are constants within the transportation system under consideration.

There are contexts in which a speed characteristic of a transportation mode (perhaps under congestion) is a constant, at least for a certain period of time. In these contexts relativity theory plays a role similar to high-speed physics with the speed of light in a vacuum. Such characteristic speeds are constants that are independent of the speed of particular objects (vehicles) in that mode.

So, for example, a free-flow highway speed may be considered a constant over a region or transportation network. Then in this context such a constant speed would play the role of c, the speed of light in a vacuum. This speed would relate space and time. The Lorentz transform would be needed to determine relative speeds.

The characteristic speed may be a maximum speed within the mode or it may be less than the maximum, such as a typical speed, in which case some vehicle speeds greater than the typical speed would be expected. This may be different from physics, in which tachyons may not exist. In any case, relativity theory can cover these cases, which would arise in transportation.

History and science once again

I’ve written about history and science before: here, here, here, and here because I think it’s important to understand their differences and relationship.

History and science are complementary, which means they are in some way opposite but they fit together to make a whole. It also means they cannot be merged into one another, but have a separate identity even as they work together.

History is about particulars. Science is about universals. They are similar in that they contain both particulars and universals, but their focus is different. The goal of history is to establish particulars. The goal of science is to establish universals.

Science is about what can or must happen. History is about what actually happened. The particulars of an experiment are the history of what actually happened. The universals of an experiment are the science of what could or must have happened. The particulars of a series of events are the history of what actually happened. The universals of a series of events are the science of what could or must have happened.

History has the final say on what actually happened because its goal is to establish the particulars of what actually happened. Science has the final say on what could or must have happened because its goal is to establish what could or must have happened. Science cannot annul history. Scientists cannot say, for example, that the French Revolution never happened because their theories don’t allow it. Historians cannot say, for example, that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is false because their histories don’t include it.

What if there’s a conflict between history and science? What if history determines that something actually happened that science says is not possible? As far as the particulars of what actually happened, history has the lead and so the position of history is final. As far as the universals of what actually happened, science has the lead and so the position of science is final.

This would be a paradox but not a contradiction. Science and history would not be talking about the same things in the same the way. A particular that actually happened but does not fit the universals of science would be an example of the incompleteness of science. A universal that was more narrow than the particulars of history would be an example of the inconsistency of history.

Science is incomplete, not only in the sense that the limits of a theory are not known until the theory is superseded, but also in the sense that science must be consistent and so reject anything that doesn’t fit its universals. History is inconsistent, not only in the sense that the sources of history conflict with one another, but also in the sense that history must incorporate particular changes that actually happened.

1D space and 3D time

What would it mean for space to be one-dimensional? It’s similar to a 1D time: it looks like a clock, except that instead of marking durations, it marks distances. It’s like an odometer for a vehicle that moves at a constant speed and never stops. Like this with units of distance (meters, kilometers, feet, miles, etc.):


Imagine a spacecraft has been sent on a trip that will extend beyond the solar system (like Voyager 1 or 2), and there’s an online “clock” of how far it has traveled so far. That’s what 1D space looks like. You could say, “The spacecraft was at 42000 gigameters from the sun as I completed kindergarten. That was many kilometers ago. Here’s it’s at 48375 Gm.”

The 1D space + 3D time world has two transformations, similar to the Galilei and the Lorentz transformations. In the Galilei-like 1D space + 3D time world space is absolute: everyone marks the same position in space, everyone is using the same distance “clock”. I call it a “tread-clock,” which combines treadmill + clock because the image is that a treadmill keeps a distance counter running the way a clock keeps time. See here for more information.

Characteristic speeds

In a sense every speed is a local conversion of space and time. But a characteristic speed has the following properties:

(1) The speed is relative to a mode of travel or movement.

(2) The speed reflects the travel conditions of the mode, with or without additional conditions such as congestion.

(3) The speed serves as a general conversion between space and time for some region or universally.

Such a speed is characteristic, that is, it characterizes the mode and the travel characteristics. It may be a standard speed, such as the speed of light in a vacuum. It may be the free flow speed. It may be a typical speed, such as the average or mean speed of a mode of travel. It may simply be a reference speed, which is an estimated or conventionally used speed to relate distance traveled and travel time.

There is a corresponding characteristic pace, which is mathematically the inverse of the characteristic speed, but with units of space (length, distance) instead of time. Speeds less than the characteristic speed may be called hypocharacteristic speeds, and those greater than the characteristic speed may be called hypercharacteristic speeds. The best known examples are the subluminal and superluminal speeds, respectively.

The characteristic speed has previously been called the standard or reference speed but characteristic speed is a better term. Some previous posts may be edited accordingly.

6D space-time collapses into 4D

Observation changes conceptions. A full conceptual space-time is pre-observation, not a priori in Kant’s terms because it comes after many observations and experiments. It is a categorical induction: a conceptional scheme that makes observational sense and forms the basis for deduction. That is how science operates.

With a conception of space-time in hand, one may observe and then place the observations into the space-time conception. What happens then is that the space-time may simplify or collapse. An observation of velocity makes 6D space-time into 4D: 3D space + 1D time. An observation of lenticity makes 6D space-time into a different 4D: 1D space + 3D time.

The Lorentz transformation is built on either the Galilei transformation, which is 3D space + 1D time, or its complementary form, which is 1D space + 3D time. So even though the Lorentz transformation is properly 3D space + 3D time, it may be collapsed into four dimensions in two ways.

Then is there a 6D space-time uncertainty principle, analogous to the one in quantum mechanics? In a sense. The full conceptual scheme is 6D, with 3D space + 3D time. But observation may entail a choice that reduces the dimensionality of space-time. One choice is whether space or time is the independent variable. Or whether space or time is directional. In an observation, they cannot be both at once.

Constitutional authority undermined

I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but those who are have been sounding the alarm over the actions of a Supreme Court and President that are extra-constitutional. I write to point out that an official under a constitution who officially acts outside that constitution has undermined their legitimacy. The constitution remains but the official who sets it aside lacks legitimate authority.

As background let’s look at a few excerpts from the dissenting opinions in the Court’s Obergefell same-sex marriage decision: from Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent:

[T]his Court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be. The people who ratified the Constitution authorized courts to exercise “neither force nor will but merely judgment.”

The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent.

From Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent:

“Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”`

“[W]hat really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.”

Here are some excerpts from a report on extra-constitutional actions of the President:

President Obama has said repeatedly that he would take unilateral executive action whenever necessary to achieve his political ends if Congress and the courts did not acquiesce to his demands. He declared openly and repeatedly that America “cannot afford to wait” on Congress or the courts to act on his agenda, and he made good on his threat to bypass the Congress and ignore the courts numerous times in his first term, as we documented in this report. After he was re-elected to a second term, Mr. Obama became even more brazen.

With his kitchen cabinet of czars in place a broader strategy to expand presidential power by executive fiat is unfolding. Obama’s “new normal” promises rule by executive fiat, plain and simple. On the issues of gun control, illegal immigration and fiscal policy, Obama has sneered at Congress and the judiciary.

Those who are called President and Supreme Court justices hold their offices by virtue of the Constitution they have sworn or affirmed to uphold. If they act extra-constitutionally, to that extent they undermine their claim to such an office. In short, their acts are not official acts, despite any outward appearance.

Direction in three-dimensional time


Multidimensional time is easier to see if we look at transportation. Consider the time table of a railway or subway system. Directions are typically shown by the station at the end of each line. The time table lists arrivals and departures — events in space and time. A railway station some distance away is in a certain direction both in space and in time within a system. For example, a famous distance-time graph by Etienne-Jules Marey shows the Paris-Lyons line in the 1885.

If we know something about the geography of the area, that is is likely to be in our minds when reading a railway time table. But if we don’t know much about the geography, travel times provide a way to map the railway system. The “time scale” may even be more useful than the distance scale. Here are two examples of time scale maps for the Boston-area MBTA: Time-Scale Commuter Rail Map and Time-Scale Subway Map.

Another way to see time directions is simply to take a time-space or isochron map and remove indications of spacial directions and distances. See for example Travel Times on Commuter Rail. The point is that time directionality is real. To see it requires separating time directions from geographic directions.


A degree of space is an angular distance equal to 1/60th of a circle. An arc minute of space is an angular distance equal to 1/60th of one degree of space. An arc second of space is an angular distance equal to 1/60th of one minute of space.

A minute of time is an angular duration equal to 1/60th of a full rotation or cycle at a rate of one rotation per hour. A second of time is an angular duration equal to 1/60th of a full rotation or cycle at a rate of one rotation per minute.

Angular time is measured by a duration of angular movement. For example, if a motor turns clockwise at a rate of one rotation per hour for five minutes (like a minute hand), then turns at a rate of one rotation per minute for ten seconds (like a second hand), the angular duration of motion will be 5:10 minutes but the angular distance of motion will be 90:00 degrees.


A direction is in the context of a geometry. A moving object such as a vehicle has a travel distance and a travel time that are both scalars. The odometer is increasing no matter which direction the vehicle is moving. It is only relative to a space and time beyond the vehicle and its movement that one can speak of its direction.

This direction may be conceived spatially and/or temporally. Directions in space and time will be the same if space and time are proportional, that is, distance and duration are proportional. In that case, we might say either there is no time or there is no space, though either statement would not be not strictly correct. There is always both space and time but they may be equivalent, and one may be hidden behind the other so to speak.

Science stoppers and starters

An inference of intelligent design (ID), or any version of creationism, or whatever might hint at the supernatural is often considered a science stopper. See, for example, this and the final chapter of Stanley’s book reviewed earlier. Look at two key examples from the ID literature: Dembski’s design inference and Behe’s irreducible complexity inference. Do these stop further investigation?

One answer is yes, because ID has a whiff of the supernatural, which some admit or boldly declare, and this violates naturalism. Stanley is right that this appears arbitrary, as a metaphysical restriction to science. Then who is really the science stopper here? Isn’t it those who insist that science cannot investigate anything with a whiff of the supernatural?

Another yes answer is because these authors have not followed up with more scientific results based on this inference. That is like saying, “I reject your A, B, C because you haven’t followed it up with D, E, F.” But if you aren’t convinced by A, B, C, how are you going to accept any D, E, F that depends on A, B, C? Show us your willingness to accept A, B, C first, and then your desire for D, E, F will be plausible.

Contrary to their critics, the ID community is not a well-heeled group of researchers. Unlike mainstream scientists, they have no funding from government sources. They have no state schools in which they can be employed and also teach or research ID because if any whiff of ID work becomes known, they will lose such employment. So we have to be patient for further ID research.

But an inference of intelligent design or irreducible complexity should be a science starter. These are essentially discoveries of discontinuities, which should lead to new classifications and further research. The presence of a particular irreducible complexity, for example, indicates a particular class or type of organism. What are all of these classes or types? And what is the relationship between them? Here is an opportunity to conduct a whole program of science research.