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Cosmology, Physics

Will Time be Replaced by Another Space Dimension?

24 Jan , 2008 by

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

By  
[Follow me on Twitter (@astroengine)] [Check out my space blog: Astroengine.com] [Check out my radio show: Astroengine Live!] Hello! My name is Ian O'Neill and I've been writing for the Universe Today since December 2007. I am a solar physics doctor, but my space interests are wide-ranging. Since becoming a science writer I have been drawn to the more extreme astrophysics concepts (like black hole dynamics), high energy physics (getting excited about the LHC!) and general space colonization efforts. I am also heavily involved with the Mars Homestead project (run by the Mars Foundation), an international organization to advance our settlement concepts on Mars. I also run my own space physics blog: Astroengine.com, be sure to check it out!


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Dave
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Dave
January 24, 2008 10:18 PM

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!

MrBill
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MrBill
January 24, 2008 11:31 PM

*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.

Dimius
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Dimius
January 25, 2008 1:38 AM

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 ?

Dimius
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Dimius
January 25, 2008 1:42 AM

I meant proportionally…

Gort
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Gort
January 24, 2008 9:32 PM

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

Calvin L.
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Calvin L.
January 24, 2008 10:01 PM

Very funny, Gort

illson7
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illson7
January 25, 2008 5:01 AM
“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… Read more »
illson7
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illson7
January 25, 2008 5:05 AM

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.

illson7
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illson7
January 25, 2008 5:05 AM

Damn, i didn’t spell sorry right

Rishi
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Rishi
January 24, 2008 10:35 PM

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.

James
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James
January 24, 2008 11:54 PM

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

Invisible Girl 0
Guest
Invisible Girl 0
January 25, 2008 12:01 AM

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! grin

BeBe
Guest
BeBe
January 25, 2008 12:07 AM

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.

JTH
Guest
January 25, 2008 12:51 AM

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.

Rev.
Guest
Rev.
January 25, 2008 1:23 AM

“Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto�

TheSxR
Member
TheSxR
January 25, 2008 2:04 AM

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.

kbutler
Member
kbutler
January 25, 2008 9:07 AM

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

Greg
Member
Greg
January 25, 2008 2:14 AM
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… Read more »
Alphonso
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Alphonso
January 25, 2008 2:51 AM

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

Nuno
Guest
Nuno
January 25, 2008 3:46 AM

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!

wpDiscuz