Saturday, 10 January 2015

Where DID time go? An essay on the science of multiple realities

What better way to start a year than with a fresh new report - or in this case, a veritable article - from a reader?
Well, here is one for you to enjoy: a very long one, very well written, complete with extensive thoughts on the possible reasons for perceived "timeslips".

Many thanks to Scotty Matthews, its author.

Timeslips, Altered Timelines, 

and the Science of Multiple Realities

There are numerous accounts of people experiencing places and events from other times... from years or decades before, to hundreds of years in the future.

These accounts are often ridiculed with the same skeptical fervor too often directed at those who report UFO sightings, or encounters with Sasquatch. But there is a very real potential that these experiences are real. First, I'll relate a couple experiences from my life, and then I'll explain a few key concepts from Einstein's Relativity, and from quantum physics, that fully explain how this phenomenon could be all too real.

Near where my father used to live, not far from Monticello, Illinois, there is a very unusual place called Allerton Park. It was once the 17,000-acre country estate of a wealthy industrialist named Robert Allerton. When he died, he gave the whole place to the University of Illinois, which turned it into a public park, self-supported by several working farms on the property. Most of the park is forested land, along the Sangamon River, surrounded by corn and soybean fields... it represents the forested prairie before all the trees were cut down for farmland.

The place is well known for it's English Formal Gardens. Far off on one side of the park, there is a place which is known as “The Lost Garden.” It is no longer cultivated as a garden, and consists of a small parking area off a country road, that connects to a 40-foot wide path which traverses a shallow valley for about an eighth of a mile, where it ends in pristine oak woods.

I was 17 years old, and one Saturday, I went to Allerton Park. I liked to go there to quietly commune with nature, and I went to the Lost Garden. There were no other visitors around that part of the park that day. I arrived there about 1:45 in the afternoon, and hadn't visited this particular location in years. I walked alone all the way to the end of the clearing/path, to where it rose into the woods. At the end, there was a small, old concrete slab, about six feet square, and next to it was an old tree stump, about 24 inches tall, and easily 2 feet across... It appeared to have been cut like that long ago. I sat on the stump to have a cigarette and enjoy the breeze and the sunshine filtering down through the Oak Leaf canopy of trees.

I remember it got very quiet and still. And at that moment, a large barred owl came swooping from above the trees, following the clearing toward me. It did not flap it's wings. As the ground curved uphill, the owl swooped upward and landed somewhere in the trees directly above me. It was an amazing moment. I an still recall it vividly, because at the time, it barely seemed real. It was just about then that the breeze picked up, and it appeared that clouds had moved in, because the sun was no longer shining down through the trees as it had been. It began to feel chilly, so I began to walk back, which was about a six minute walk. The entire time I spent there could not have been more than 45 minutes, and that's being generous. But as I came back into the clearing, out from the area that is enclosed by trees, I noticed that the sun was much further down on the horizon. I looked at my watch, and it was 5:45 P.M. In what I had experienced as no more than 45 minutes, it seemed that four hours had passed. But my watch was correct, nonetheless.

Now, there are stories of “missing time” associated with UFO abduction reports, and in Whitley Strieber's books on his abduction experiences, he describes some events becoming covered with “screen memories,” sometimes involving visions of owls. (Apparently, our subconscious can substitute an owl's face for the face of an alien with big eyes. As to the veracity of that information, I cannot comment, but I include it as a footnote, because for many weeks thereafterward, I suspected that something strange had happened to me in the woods that day, and maybe it had something to do with UFO's.)

But about two months later, I decided to go back to the same place. When I had again walked to the far end of the clearing, where it ends in the wooded area, I discovered something that was quite impossible. The old concrete slab was not there, nor was the ancient stump. It's not that they had been removed... there was no appearance that anything there had been disturbed, nor indeed had the grass of the clearing been recently mowed... They simply didn't exist. But they had existed in a reality I experienced only weeks before.

Another experience I had took place in the early 90's when I was living and working in Cookeville, Tennessee. At the time, a new road, called Interstate Drive, had just been built. It ran alongside I-40, and at the time, there were only a couple of car dealerships on one end, and the rest had not been developed. Near the middle of this road was a little gravel drive that went about 40 yards off toward the treeline, where there was a small park pavilion, next to a small old fenced-in historic cemetery... having maybe 10 or twelve headstones that appeared to date from the 1800's to the early 1900's.

One day, on my lunch hour, I went to the brand new Subway Sandwich Shop, got a Tuna Sub, and went to this isolated pavilion to enjoy my lunch in the open air, and in solitude. I remember it quite distinctly. Then, only a few months later, I decided one day to return there, but the location was not the same. There was no gravel side-road, no pavilion, no cemetery. Just overgrown grass. So, where exactly had I enjoyed that Tuna Sandwich on that warm Spring day?

The final experience I'll relate here was in 1991, when I drove, with a friend, from Cookeville, Tennessee to Washington, D.C. It's a long straight drive along I-40 going east-northeast. And I calculated that it would take just over 9 hours. We set out around 10 AM on Friday morning, with sandwiches and a cooler of drinks so we wouldn't have to stop on the way, except for gas. We arrived in Washington D.C. A little after 3 in the afternoon. This baffled me. We would have to have been traveling the whole route at well over 100 miles per hour to make it in five hours, and that certainly had not been the case. We had a big event to attend in Washington on Saturday, so we met up with the friend we were staying with, and didn't give it much more thought. We departed after the event on Saturday, and the drive home took nine and a half hours, which is exactly how long the trip there should have taken.

There is a famous story from around the turn of the 20th century about two ladies, who were friends and academic colleagues, who had traveled from Britain to visit the Palace at Versailles.[This, of course, is the story of Charlotte Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain which, in a way, prompted  the creation of this very blog. See, e.g., Another garden, another time. Note by Myosotis.] But what they encountered when they were there was visiting the palace as it had been hundreds of years before, and interacting with people from that time. 
 There is also a famous story of four British travelers going by car through the French countryside in the late 1970's, when they stopped for the night at a roadside inn. They had a wonderful meal together, and were somewhat puzzled by other people at the inn, who all appeared to be in historical period attire. They stayed the night, had breakfast there the next morning, were charged only 19 Francs for their entire stay and meals, took three photographs, and drove on to their destination. On the way back, they decided to stay at the same place, but when they got to the location, there was no inn, only the crumbling foundations of an old building. When they got the photos of their trip developed, all of the pictures came out perfectly, except the three they had taken at the inn (with two different cameras!) There was apparently nothing on the negatives at all.

Several Internet postings on similar phenomenon include people recalling that the continent of Australia used to be shaped a bit differently, and was also in a different position, further from the islands of Southeast Asia. I just looked at a map, and it certainly seems to me that when I was a kid in school, studying geography, Australia was nowhere near as close to those islands to the north.

So... what's happening here? Is it just shared hallucinations, delusions, misremembered events, or is it even remotely possible that we could experience events from another time, or have the physical world itself appear to have a history different from what we distinctly remember?

It turns out that not only are these things distinctly possible... they're almost inevitable. And this is because space, time, and matter are substantially much more bizarre than we generally experience in everyday life.

It's time for a few observations from proven experimental physics, along with some current theory, that play a role in the explanation. Don't worry, there won't be any equations involved.

According to Einstein, time and space are part of the same thing. You can't travel in space without changing the rate at which time moves for you, relative to a stationary observer. I won't go into why this is... it's basic Relativity Theory, and it was proven with paired atomic clocks in 1971, and many times since. But the important thing to understand is this: Everyone experiences an individual timeline, unique to them and their passage through space. Portions of that timeline will be in sync with others who are moving at the same relative speed in the same direction simultaneously, but as soon as those other move in different directions and at different speeds, our experiences of the passage of time also diverge slightly. In this way, time is elastic, literally passing at different rates for different people, and for all the matter in the universe.

We know from experiments in particle physics that fundamental particles, like photons, can become “entangled.” That is to say, if quantum entanglement is established between two like photons, they will share a equal and opposite “energy state,” no matter how far apart they are. They could be on opposite sides off the Universe, but so long as they remain entangled, they are, in a very real sense simultaneously physically connected. Einstein had a couple of problems with this idea from Quantum Physics, but it has been proven in many many laboratory experiments.

One problem is... the particles, being entangled, remain in the same inertial reference frame (a term from Relativity which describes a common frame of reference in spacetime in which a stationary observer would be able to witness events occurring simultaneously, and the events themselves (such as the behavior of an elementary particle at any given time) would agree with it's entangled particle that the behaviors happened at the same time. But! What if those entangled photons actually are a great distance, say, many many lightyears apart? The forces of gravitation and electromagnetism would be different in different regions of space, and (Einstein again) different amounts of gravity will distort spacetime in different ways... which means that the local “time” for each of the particles would have to be different. The time in that region of space could not possibly be ticking at exactly the same rate... so how could the particles possibly experience “simultaneous” events? Ah, now we're getting somewhere! Stay with me. It's about to get very very weird.

We now know that whole groups of particles... photons, electrons, even whole clusters of atoms, can become mutually entangled at a quantum level. By natural extension, it is reasonable to assume, that for short periods of time, very very large pieces of matter can become quantum-entangled with other very very large pieces of matter. Large pieces of matter such as humans, for instance. I know I'm stretching entanglement just a bit, but as I said, stay with me, because this gets really good.

Back to Einstein... if two “observers” are stationary in space relative to each other, then their common “now” instant will be—for lack of a better analogy—a straight-line slice across the “present” moment, that they would agree is simultaneous. However, if one of them begins to travel in space relative to the other, they would no longer agree on what time it is, and would not agree on what is “simultaneous.” In fact, the “slice” for the one who is moving would appear to be a diagonal “slice” across spacetime, compared to the stationary one's “straight across” slice. What is the present for one, is the past for the other.

Ahem... however, if the topography of the Universe is even half as strange as we think it is (it is almost certainly several orders of magnitude stranger than that) then even in our own personal timelines, there are multiple parallel possibilities brought on by the potential of massive quantum entanglements. Quantum entanglements are a “rip” through the fabric of spacetime, forcing simultaneous frames of reference in far-flung distant points in space and time. This entanglement will remain stable until it is “observed”, at which point, the entanglement collapses. I won't go into the Quantum Mechanics definition of “observation,” but for our purposes, it means basically what you think it means. The entangled particles have to interact with another particle in order to “collapse” the entanglement.

When they are observed, the entanglement collapses, and their simultaneity is discontinued, at which point, they would “pop” into the Relativistic frame of reference common to the surrounding space they occupy, independent of the frame of reference occupied by their formerly entangled twin.

And so, somehow, if you happen to be the “observer” who breaks the quantum entanglement, you would briefly see two contradictory frames of reference merge around the formerly entangled matter, as the time frames drift back into sync. Now, as unlikely as it is that an entire French inn from the 1900's could exist in 1979 long enough for British tourists to spend the night, and as unlikely as it is for a pair of travelers to experience the entire Palace at Versailles to be hundreds of years out of place for several hours, and as utterly unlikely as it is that I could drive a 1989 Chevy Blazer from Cookeville, Tennessee to Washington DC in just five hours... it is absolutely POSSIBLE for these things to happen, given our understanding of how very strange spacetime and matter really are in the way they relate to each other.

And, with another tip of the hat to good old Al Einstein, he famously said “Anything in the universe that is not strictly prohibited by the laws of physics, is absolutely necessary... (however, practically everything is prohibited!)” What he meant was, that in a functionally infinite universe, everything that ever possibly could happen, no matter how improbable, must happen somewhere, sometime. And given our understanding of physics (which is still woefully incomplete, but getting very very interesting lately) this means it is absolutely possible to experience events which happened in the past, or in the future as if they were in your present moment. It is absolutely possible that on either side of that event, the past of some timelines, or the future of some timelines could be altered. Like... a tree stump that had been in a particular spot for a hundred years might turn out, when you look for it again, never to have been there at all.

I could have gone into the science in much greater technical detail, and not cut corners with some of the explanations, but I didn't intend this to be a physics textbook. I just wanted to point out that we already understand that time is NOT simultaneous for any two particles in the universe, throughout their entire timeline. No two particles in the Universe can have the same quantum “state” at the “same time”. So, once in a while, under very special circumstances, some separate frames of reference which span huge swaths of space and time MUST become merged through collapsing quantum entanglements, and temporarily break “the present” in a localized area. Anything on the timeline of any bit of matter that exists on one of the merging frames of reference would experience a fractured simultaneity, experiencing an overlap between two “different” times, or physical change in the universe that had to happen in order for the merging frames to become mutually and causally consistent.

Could this explain ghosts? Could this explain UFO's? Could this explain how an entire gravel road and historic cemetery could simply disappear?

Absolutely. No doubt about it. In fact... these sorts of things are inevitable. If you've witnessed anything like that, then consider yourself lucky, because even though the Earth is a big place, events like this are still very improbable... but they are not only possible: they are inevitable.


Is it the fault-lines fault?

Out of Mind?

The Ultimate Tourist

 Yet I did not wonder...

(with links in each of them to many other relevant posts)

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