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Will Time be Replaced by Another Space Dimension?

Article Updated: 26 Dec , 2015

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What if time disappeared? Yes, it sounds like a silly question – and if the cosmos sticks to the current laws of physics – it’s a question we need never ask beyond this article. Writing this article would in itself be a waste of my time if the cosmos was that simple. But I’m hedging my bets and continuing to type, as I believe we have only just scratched the surface of the universal laws of physics; the universe is anything but simple. There may in fact be something to this crazy notion that the nature of the universe could be turned on its head should the fundamental quantity of time be transformed into another dimension of space. An idea like this falls out of the domain of classical thought, and into the realms of “braneworlds”, a view that encapsulates the 4-dimensional universe we know and love with superstrings threaded straight through…

Brane theory is a strange idea. In a nutshell, a brane (short for “membrane”) can be viewed as a sheet floating in a fifth dimension. As we can only experience three dimensional space along one dimension of time (four dimensional space-time, a.k.a. a Lorentzian universe), we cannot understand what this fifth dimension looks like, but we are fortunate to have mathematics to help us out. Mathematics can be used to describe as many dimensions as we like. Useful, as branes describe the cumulative effect of “strings” threading through many dimensions and the forces interacting to create the universe we observe in boring old three dimensional space. According to the “braneworld” view, our four dimensional cosmos may actually be embedded within a multidimensional universe – our cosmic version only uses four of the many possible dimensions.

Theorists contemplating braneworlds, such as Marc Mars at the University of Salamanca in Spain, now believe they have stumbled on an implication that could, quite literally, stop cosmologists in their tracks. The time dimension could soon be disappearing to be replaced by a fourth space dimension. Our familiar Lorentzian universe could turn Euclidean (i.e. four spatial dimensions, no time) and Mars believes the evidence for the change is staring us in the face.

One of the interesting, and intriguing, properties of these signature-changing branes is that, even though the change of signature may be conceived as a dramatical event within the brane, both the bulk and the brane can be fully smooth. In particular, observers living in the brane but assuming that their Universe is Lorentzian everywhere may be misled to interpret that a curvature singularity arises precisely at the signature change” – Marc Mars, from Is the accelerated expansion evidence of a forthcoming change of signature on the brane?.

The observed expansion of the universe (as discovered by Edwin Hubble in 1925) may in fact be a symptom of a “signature changing” brane. If our brane is mutating from time-like to space-like, observers in the Lorentzian universe should observe an expanding and accelerating universe, exactly as we are observing presently. Mars goes on to detail that this theory can explain this ever increasing expansion, whilst keeping the physical characteristics of the cosmos as we observe today, without assuming any form of dark matter or dark energy is responsible.

It is doubtful that we can ever perceive a time-less cosmos, and what would happen to the universe should time go space-like is beyond our comprehension. So, enjoy your four dimensions while they last, time could soon be running out.

Source: arXiv blog


76 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    I imagine someday we will come up with a theory that is so obtuse, so capricious, that no one will be able to understand it, not even the author..
    I am starting to worry, Our theorist’s theories are becoming uncomfortably close to mimicing religious dogma!

  2. MrBill says:

    *I am starting to worry, Our theorist’s theories are becoming uncomfortably close to mimicing religious dogma!*

    Ahah! This is only because you don’t understand them.

    We’ll see about all this nonsense when the results come in from the LHC.

  3. Dimius says:

    What a topic! makes me want to comment for the 1st time. Hope I make sense.
    Is there time in a vacuum? What if you remove all the matter in the universe? Will there be time? I always thought that time is just the way our brains perceive difference between moving things or differences between changes. Maybe the universe is evolving, just as we are. Into more dimentions?? And we’re just the observers? Could we be evolving along with the Universe, proportionately ?

  4. Dimius says:

    I meant proportionally…

  5. Gort says:

    Great! I don’t have to worry about getting old!

  6. Calvin L. says:

    Very funny, Gort

  7. illson7 says:

    “The more known, the more knowledge sought, the more a certain book seems to explain what we find. Maybe if the mathematicians believed, and just waited they would see and know the Universe in its entirety instead of spending their life trying to figurie out what no one can ever comprehend.” -Steve R. posted
    I can’t understand why one would say that thus in just trying to solve the mystery behind the beauty shows they do belive in gods are so awesome. and also it benifits us alot we are more informed more willing to stand by faith.
    this might be hear say but i think i read it not sure so it’s not a quote from that when christ returns he is gonna unscroll the world like a map. how? i understood how though hawkings blackhole theroy. plus it’s fun to come up with crazy ideas it’s scary when they come true or the awaken parts of your conciousness and you understand the illusions behind reality.

  8. illson7 says:

    I can’t understand why one would say that thus in just trying to solve the mystery behind the beauty shows they do belive in gods are so awesome. soory for my grammer i aint the sharpest tool but english and writting are my enemy.

  9. illson7 says:

    Damn, i didn’t spell sorry right

  10. Rishi says:

    Sometimes I feel that even consciousness (mind) too is a dimension which we have not taken into account so far while explaining the universe. Indeed, we may be uncomfortably close to mimicing religious dogma.

  11. James says:

    End of Time: Job 26:10–
    … until the day and night come to an end.

    Rev. 10:6– And he sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer…

    from the Holy Bible
    authorised King James Version

  12. Invisible Girl 0 says:

    When I die, time will end. (Or at least my perception of time will end.) So, maybe the Universe will start over? Maybe it will turn from mass to energy? Maybe it will signature change? Maybe there will be another singularity (“Big Bang”) that explodes into a new dimension? I will tell you what happens AFTER I get there! 😀

  13. BeBe says:

    I can appreciate the biblical reference of Rev. 10:6 a fortelling of time no longer…I’ve often wondered if the concept of going to heven is just passing into that 5th world…the one we don’t have the ability to comprehend in our current life. Maybe after we die we cross over to a different dimension maybe the 4th only to go on to the 5th when we are ready to meet out maker. Time is no longer needed as everything is perfect right? Nothing more to worry about we’re no longer human we’re dimentional energy.

  14. JTH says:

    In 1949 Godel published a paper showing that time does not exist in our universe.
    ref: “A World Without Time, The forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein” By Palle Yourgrau.

    In 1999 Julian Barbour published “The End of Time”.
    An easy to understand description of the world without time and how we experience “time”.

    This is not a new concept. We have no real understanding of how we are intertwined in the universe. Discarding the concept of time will be similar to when humanity shed the “common sense” notion that the world is flat.

  15. Rev. says:

    “Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto�

  16. Steve R says:

    The more known, the more knowledge sought, the more a certain book seems to explain what we find. Maybe if the mathematicians believed, and just waited they would see and know the Universe in its entirety instead of spending their life trying to figurie out what no one can ever comprehend.

  17. kbutler says:

    Don’t get this confused with Boltzmann’s Brains, which wil eventually take over all the universes.

  18. Greg says:

    I really like the cartoon showing space as a brane moving in 5th dimensional space with time a consequence of that movement in one constant direction. Since the movement is unidirectional you cannot go back the other way and have time (and events) reverse it self. The only way to accomplish this would be for this brane to collide with another to move it in the opposite direction. Such a collision would likely be catacylsmic (like a big bang) and wipe everything in the spatial dimensions in the process. If the arrangement of matter in that universe survived the cataclysm then all events would indeed reverse themselves in proper order, but instead all matter and energy becomes rearranged and the universe is destroyed and rebirthed instead.

  19. Alphonso says:

    Not a new idea, either in science or philosophy, but Hell, it’s still enough to make my head hurt

  20. Nuno says:

    I wonder if there are other universes encapsulating the same dimensions ours does…but with different properties.
    Say, “they” could “walk” in either direction in time but only forward in a certain spatial dimension.
    In that case, for us, they couldn’t ever be twice in the same spot, but could be… Oh God, this is confusing!

  21. UNdistinguished says:

    uh, hmmm, well, that is, ah, see it’s like this, sorta… ya know what I mean?

  22. Chuck Lam says:

    Does time exist? Good question! Time can’t be seen, touched, poked, bottled, heated, cooled, etc., etc..Time doesn’t have any physcial shape. Time appears to be an artifact of the human conscious.

  23. BjorkPerson says:

    So … What time is it now?

  24. John Mendenhall says:

    aka Hardnose Mainstream.

    Multi-dimensional spaces are wonderful mathematical constructs. And the last time I checked, about a month ago, I discovered to my astonishment that there is zero evidence in the real world of any dimensions beyond our three space and one time. We bandy these ideas about like they are givens; they aren’t. To the best of my knowledge, there is no supporting physical evidence for extra dimensional spaces, it’s all speculation.

    But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun. And if I’m right, then we have plenty of time to accomplish anything we wa . . .

  25. Pope Priorius X says:

    All scientists who have tricked people into believing that every aspect of the entire universe relies on simple processes which can be discovered through observation and experimentation are heathens.

    The one true way to honor science is to bow your head and fall on your knees at the untestable, unobservable altar of theoretical physics. Do not ask questions for you are incapable of comprehending anything.

    Particularly–especially–what time it is… sheesh… I ought to whack you with a ruler for such insolence.

  26. unnikuttan says:

    Time will be replaced when a dark hole swallows the solar system

  27. Andrea says:

    time is vanishing? … yeah – I could have told you that … I seem to have “lost” rather a lot of time over the last few years … I have even found a mathmatical formula for it – the amount of time I have to do stuff is inversely proportional to the amount of time I spend in cyberspace … I am sure the www has quite a few strange and mysterious dimensions … I think I have been “lost” in several of them! -maybe I can blame wormholes or something?
    I probably should think of something more intelligent to say, but after reading all that strange and interesting theory – my brane hurts …

  28. Me, Myself and I says:

    The Universe awakened with me and will cease to exist when I die.

  29. Kenneth Roger says:

    Time, like entropy, was invented to make the equations come out right. One should not look for meaning in an invention. If time can be replaced with a more useful invention, then by all means use it.

    Mathematicians can say “is”, but physicists should almost always say “as”. There are no axioms in physics.

  30. Rick Eyerdam says:

    Transformations

    The unlit light up on my ceiling says
    It is nine o’clock (from where I sit)
    If the lamp that’s lit is the sun.
    And unearthing this timeless orientation
    I declare all clocks cuckoo
    Even:
    As Einstein told the time
    (and I’m as farsighted as he)
    I ride the back of a pachyderm
    beneath a bowl, beneath a primal sea.
    Or:
    Compacted now into an untracked train
    I ride at top speed, freed of form,
    to see where I am bound
    by the very speed of what I’ve been.

  31. NeoGuru says:

    It’s absurd to consider physics that is impossilbe to perceive or test. This stuff has always astonished me. I feel dealing with reality might be more productive.

  32. Pope Priorius X says:

    You know what’s absurd?

    Your lack of faith.

  33. Jim K says:

    Maybe this is what happens in 2012-2013, when the Mayans and other civilizations believed “time as we know it would end.”

    This could also explain why some people describe supposed extraterrestrials as being able to travel through time as easily as we do space.

    I know this is a pretty skeptical site, and my comments will probably generate a good laugh out of most of you, but it certainly would put some things in perspective, if true.

  34. Dimius says:

    A podcast about the time would be nice
    🙂

  35. Freiddie says:

    And what makes time different from space?

  36. Paul Freedman says:

    Well time is relative, fortunately. I’d tell you all about it, if i had the time.

    Give us a couple of million years to think about it and we’ll eventually come up with the right answer.

    Did i just hear someone say 42?

  37. Paul Freedman says:

    By the way, what was the question? 😀

  38. Paul Freedman says:

    To the point, I thought of zero point energy being the “kinetic energy” driving our 3 dimensions through the 4th with a certain velocity…

    But i am probably wrong.

  39. Andy Radke says:

    Time is so 2007…..
    Time is so Man Made…..
    Time = Realtivity i.e. everything moves at the speed of light giving the illusion of time.

  40. Eric Marsh says:

    Doesn’t seem to me that this accounts for cause and effect.

  41. Bil says:

    Time is a meaningless concept when you stop to think about it.

  42. ted says:

    Time is man made…who else? I believe in Jesus, yes I had the balls to say his name. Also, I believe that he is nothing like we think. I believe the ‘known’ universe is tiny. Like a grain of sand. If you would draw a small circle on a chalkboard and that was the universe…I want to know what is 5 feet from the circle? or a trillion miles? Someone knows and he or they created all that we know, which is not much.

  43. Jason Leary says:

    First of all ,the term in the original Greek text of the book of Revelation 10:6 did NOT signify time but instead a word that would be better translated as ‘delay’ …

    The English versions of that text that say , ‘there will be time no longer’, are a loose rendering of the original statement that would be better rendered as ,

    ‘There will be delay no longer. ‘.

    And since were discussing Bible verses , there is a verse in Jeremiah (I hope to have the chapter citation later) that refers to Yahweh (God) as having ‘a covenant with day and night.’ .

    now on to the cosmology of physics . The now popular claim that time is somehow merely a man made construct that we create with our minds is an unspeakably stupid and ridiculous obscurantist claim .Time certainly does exist outside our minds. Time is NOT something constructed by our minds .

    Think about it the scenario that time was merely created by man as a mental construct makes no sense when one considers that the process of allegedly “making time” would itself require a series of stages to do the constructing and thus itself would take time to move from one mental stage to another .

    Those who claim that we merely construct time with our minds are being mentally lazy/glib and NOT carefully thinking such a postulate through .

    The Cambridge Platonists of the 1600’s had a better ontological approach in so far as they apparently conceived of time as an aspect of God’s own Life .

    Time is something that had no beginning but is an an aspect of God’s perpetual Act of Creation and sustaining creation .

    Though the postulate of branes itself may have some merit —the particular hypothesis that the fellow whom the article reviewed here puts forth that claims there is no time or that time could somehow cease (and its not clearly delineated as to which of those conceptions he means) is obscurantist mystification disguised as science and a type of mystification that borders on being cognitively incoherent .

    It is mystification that he promulgates NOT to be confused with mysticism —the latter of the two which is a *different* affair from mystification and is NOT necessarily obscurantist .

  44. N Stone says:

    I think that we all have the wrong Ideas about dimensions, because, what would a single space dimension alone be?
    and relatively time may not be a dimension, for example, time never stops, we cannot go back in time, and so, the universe and us are just moving around in space endlssly and so time is the universe and us moving around space. and so time can be seen as just a result of space moving around or space can be seen as a result of time. either way.

  45. EDWARD says:

    It’s a contradiction that time can’t be seen, poked, ect, ect. We can expirience it by perception of all else around you, sometimes you can predict what happens like a regular schedule. The trouble is, we can mostly perceive unidirectionally and if there are other directions of time… we still can’t see it! And about the expanding universe? Well… what if there’s another universe potruding against ours? Like if you had a large rubber sheet (forget the ballon concept), and you try to push on the surface of the sheet with your fist. Your fist being the other universe, thus causing the expansion. I’m sure anyone would say, “if that were the case, the expansion would be locallized to a region in the universe”. But… That’s a 2 dimentional view and the portruding universe doesn’t necessarily have to apply it’s pressure on a limited region anywhere in the cosmos. Hummmm……

  46. Greg says:

    Time is a real phenomenon and fundamental aspect of this universe. It is the concept by which we can measure cause and effect or change. If there was no time, nothing would ever change. Everything would be static. How boring this would be. But what causes things to change? What is driving time? The concept of the universe as a planar object moving in 5 dimensional space to me is an appealing way of understanding it.

  47. Elijah says:

    The diagram looks very much like a black hole to me. Perhaps there are some similarities- evidense that could point us toward the originals of space and time itself: the singularity.

  48. Jason Leary says:

    In regard to the subject of Time, it does make sense to propose that there could be time travel of a sort , yet if one could travel back in time one then instantiates a sort of alternate past –that may have many similarities with the existing past segment of the timeline —yet is less ontologically stable (being more like unto a dream state of existence at large) less real than the timeline we are in .

    I have immense admiration for Dr. Ronald Mallett in Connecticut– who is researching the physics of time travel with laser technology .

  49. Tony Trenton says:

    Albert’s genius was connecting gravity & time as space-time. Time is flexible & dependant on the electromagnetic field density.
    Gravity is not a force, & has no field. It is an expression of the warping of the EMF by Mass.
    The attractive force we feel between our feet & our planet is due to the imbalance of electrons between one piece of matter & another.
    There only has to be a difference of one part in 10^40 for there to be the attractive force we mistakenly call gravity.

    To get a better handle on our limitations. Consider that the homosapien brain is only about 80,000 years young, in evolutionary terms this is a blink of the eye.

    If we don’t destroy ourselves, we have a long way yet to evolve.

  50. Tony Trenton says:

    Paul Townsend who is a member of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge and a colleague of Stephen Hawking did much of the fundamental work, and coined the name p-branes.
    Chaos theory shows that every dynamic system is multi-dimensional.
    Our primative brains just can’t see them.

  51. Tony Trenton says:

    Time stops at the singularity of a black hole where everything is crushed out of existence including the history .
    Any distance away from the center is into the future.
    So traveling back in time is not an option.

    Kip Thorn had better get his credit card out and clothe Stephen Hawking

  52. Tony Trenton says:

    Travelling in time means exiting one Event Horizon & entering another. Because Event Horizons isolate one system from another they are also moving in relation to each other. Time Travel would be a one way trip. We would have no way of finding our way back home.

  53. Tony Trenton says:

    The Tony Principal : States that Nature works with infinite quantities & an infinite variety of those quantities, at every scale.

    Chaos theory shows everything in our Universe is scaleable.

    The most fundamental force in nature is turbulence.
    Without turbulence, there would be no black holes no singularities no sub atomic structure no atoms etc.

    Our Universe is an expanding globule of positive electromagnetic energy.
    All positive energy is atractive and thus forms globules etc.

    Negative energy is repulsive and does not form Universes. It just disipates into The Big Nothing.

  54. Pope Priorius X says:

    The Tony Principle? How heretical can you get?

    Here’s some tips for your next thesis:

    –Use the powers of observation by observing spelling. Doesn’t really matter if it’s Canadian, British, Australian or American English. Just try one.

    –The Tony Principal sounds like a movie about Tony’s principal in high school. Why do I think this? It’s probably because the principal of a school is your PAL and a scientific principle might get printed in LE Monde.

    –Chaos theory shows that the universe is chaotic.

    –Stupidity is the most fundamental force in nature. Without stupidity, we’d know that black holes are insanely compressed matter and quite orderly in how they kill everything around them.

    –Globule of positive electromagnetic energy? Negative energy is repulsive and does not form universes? Christ Baby Jesus! It’s too early to subject my eyes to the pain.

    I am the pope. The only people allowed in my church are those who eschew blasphemous ideas like “what goes up must come down” or “d = rt”. Basically, only incomprehensible theoretical physicists are allowed in the sacred walls of my cathedral.

    You might be capable of walking the walk but your talk, as it appears in your post, would make even the most pretarded theoretical physicist grimace in pain upon reading anything you might.

    Pray to the intelligent designer, my son. You might yet be saved.

  55. Carrie C. says:

    I have been thinking about this all day, and it’s really a far out concept. I believe that this is going to happen, and I also have a couple of thoughts I would like to share.

    If there isn’t any time in the next dimension, then we can never die. To die we need to have a body that dies… and if we can’t die, we don’t have a body. Maybe when “it” happens there will be “the great fire,” like in the bible. Our bodies would be destroyed, but our minds would not and that’s what the transition would be like. It’s sort of parallel to the Matrix, because of how one could travel from one location to another, simply by thinking… but you wouldn’t physically be there.

    Also, I was thinking about what that would be like without time as a soul, and I couldn’t help but think about “deja vou” and how people have dreams about some topic. Then later, they actually end up doing the action and thinking, “Hey! I’ve done this before!” Maybe that’s tied into how our dimension is slowly changing into the next, and it’s just a sign of how we will be out of our bodies and whatnot, without time.

    And, I do believe this has something to do with the infamous 2012 “stopping of time” event of the Mayans. However, who am I to interpret. I am just a humble academic astronomy student reading an article her teacher talked about in class today.

  56. maibuti says:

    Ee ke a dumela efela ke bona ka sa utlwisisi gore dikakanyo tse dingwe dire eng. ke opela batho bao ba akantseng kgopolo e

  57. Jason Leary says:

    Hi Carrie ,

    If there was NO time then there would be no experience or mentation of any sort NOT even for disembodied minds .

    It would NOT be like the Matrix because there would be NO travel —not even in thought , if there were no time.

    Whenever you have a process with a before and an after to any of the events in that process—then you must have time.

    Those people who tell you that you can have a process that has a before and after and still have NO time involved , are guilty of doublespeak and doublethink .

  58. Nuno says:

    People,
    I finally got it:
    Time is our notion/perception of CHANGE.
    Change of “things” in spatial dimensions.
    So, the notion of time is disappearing can be viewed as lack of change…
    This means that everything will come to a point where no change will be ever possible. “The major Freeze”.

  59. Nuno says:

    You see: everything will be equal.
    Entropy levels will be stable at zero everywhere
    Temperature will be zero everywhere.
    Right?

  60. Nuno says:

    Hell WILL Freeze over!

  61. Nuno says:

    There will be space, but no time.
    (doesn’t this sounds recursively wrong?)

    Well people,
    Keep on changing!

  62. Wayne says:

    God will cause this transition of space time bible states that we will live forever KIOS time.

  63. Wayne says:

    This transition will go unnoticed in the normal spacetime continuem as this dissapates it will be replaced by a forever dimensional scale in outerspace and innerspace the mathmatics behind this is unreal we could never understand even in eternity.Lets leave that to YAHWEH. (Afterall he’s thd great mathmatician Alfa & Omega.

  64. Chuck Lam says:

    To Jason L. WOW!

  65. Chuck Lam says:

    To all those linking time and space. Keep in mind both lack substance. To say space is expanding or time is flowing or both are directly connected is only an impression. Yes, I’m familiar with the math! It might be argued that space is measurable in three dimensions for example, but that doesn’t quanfify what was measured has substance.. The same for time. Simply watching a clock doesn’t prove time exists. It’s a mechanism in motion. Refering to both space and time as being somthing is questionable. If we could bottle both, weigh, touch, take it apart for study, actually get our hands on the stuff for study then maybe we could do some serious science. Wacky?Maybe! Maybe not!

  66. Zephir says:

    From Aether Wave Theory the concept of time as another space dimension follows easilly and naturaly from concept of Aether density gradient. For example, at the gradient formed by water surface, the time is the direction perpendicular to the water surface, which forms the local space-time for surface wave spreading.

    http://superstruny.aspweb.cz/images/fyzika/aether/time_dimension.gif

  67. M Jones says:

    we are the past

    Remeber these words and we can change the future

  68. N Stone says:

    Time is a concept,

    time never stops, we cannot go back in time, and so, the universe and us are just moving around in space endlssly and so, time is the universe and us moving around space. and so,
    “time can be seen as just a result of space moving around or space can be seen as a result of time’. either way

  69. Bob says:

    Time is God

  70. Z says:

    Pope X

    You are moronic and primitive. (And thats coming from a 15 year old)

    Should we find the ability of time travel, make sure you take a trip back to the Renaissance; you have been left behind.

    It is not directly your fault, but you have been severely misguided and left narrow-minded. Broaden your horizon.

  71. will says:

    as long as there is movement, let there be time

  72. Antti Roine says:

    Time is a mathematical and mental illusion but gravity is the real physical thing. See some arguments from:

    http://www.antti-roine.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=30

    Time originates from the movement and change.

  73. ian says:

    looks like a galactic center

  74. Bryan Brookes-Smith says:

    Is time really so different to space? Or is it that difference which is an illusion?

    Sure matter probably cannot move backward in time, thereby occupying the same time twice, but then no-one has ever demonstrated matter occupying the same space twice either, sure it can happen in principle, but probably in the whole history of the universe never has.

    In fact with the universe constantly evolving and apparentally expanding, isn’t discreet, absolute space just as much an illusion?

  75. Billy joe says:

    i think this idea is so stupid and scientist are dumb and retarded and they don’t know what they’re talking about so they need to shut their faces, i mean we should not worry about this stuff because god will tell us when the time is to die.

  76. woodrooster says:

    There can be no time without movement.

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