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What a Time We Had

by Tom Slattery
Could we view the Big Bang as starting out as a magic lump of sugar in a hypothetical
infinite ocean? All at once the lump begins to dissolve, and dissolved sugar spreads ever
outward into the infinite vacuumocean!
"ow, #$!%& billion years later, the intense sugary sweetness has been diluted! But within
the sphere of the e'pansion of sweetness, the infinite vacuumocean is still sweet! And
the sweetness continues to e'pand!
We loo( at the universe li(e it is a something a lump of sugar or a lump of massenergy
that began e'panding into a volume of nothingness!
We do not (now what dar( matter and dar( energy are! So it would be fair to wonder
whether there already may have already been dar( matter and dar( energy in what we
have been assuming was a giant vacuum before the Big Bang!
But let)s include the two big dar(s in the Big Bang! There may still be a fault in loo(ing
at things this way!
We are loo(ing at detectable *stuff* e'panding! And while there is nothing wrong with
this, we could be loo(ing at the universe bac(ward!
That is to say the *stuff* and the *space *of the universe may have already been there!
+verything may have been there, but the *stuff* that was destined to e'pand into that
*space* was pac(ed into a static, inert threedimensional dot!
Were the stuff and space already there, the stuff pac(ed inside the dot and the space all
around it? Then what ma(es that highly compact stuff and the pure unpolluted space so
different all of these #$!%& billion light years of radius bigger, and all of these #$!%&
billion years later?
Time could be the answer! The #$!%& billion light years of e'panding radius and the
#$!%& billion years of elapsed past is time, time involved in interactions and time gone by
while e'panding!
That is to say, time itself may be what was born #$!%& billion years ago! +verything else
may have been already there! Compact matter and the great empty volume that it
e'panded into might have been already there! The lump of sugar and the infinite vacuum
ocean were already there!
Whatever the compact *stuff* was at first, time created mass and energy as we (now
them! Without time all of the blac(board e'pressions of mass and energy are nothing,
mean nothing! Time, then, created the larger si,es, including the si,e of the universe!
We live time, but we tend to ignore time li(e our recent ancestors ignored air! -t)s .ust
there, everywhere!
Before the #/
century discoveries by +vangelista Torricelli there was little notion of air
as a substance! Aspects of air had names li(e wind or breath as if they were independent
of it! Air was invisible and ubi0uitous, and no one reali,ed that it was there! Torricelli
showed that it was a substance that could be weighed!
1rom that e'ample we might wonder whether time might be a substance, or some (ind of
*stuff* li(e a blueberry muffin! That is to say, could time be something tangible li(e
massenergy is tangible? Could there be a weighable, measurable particle carrying time, a
2ut e'perience tells us that time and energy are interrelated! 1or e'ample, we step harder
on the gas pedal and give our car more energy and as a result we can get where we are
going in less time even though we burn more fuel! But is this relationship between time
and energy what we are wondering about here?
3oes the petrol pedal analogy represent a flow of time that surrounds us li(e air
surrounds us so that we go through our lives almost oblivious of it? 4r does it hint at a
specific and yet unconsidered interaction of the substance of time of *timetons* with
5ic(ing this apart will be tric(y partly because we do not (now what a *substance* of
time might actually be li(e, feel li(e, and act li(e, and what it might and might not do!
We are trying to guess at a ghost! At best, any new speculation li(e this is less than
perfect and has to wor( itself out in comparisons with the already (nown! This
speculation about time as a substance and the *bang* of the Big Bang may ta(e centuries
before anything testable is discovered! But the speculation may spar( a thought that will
spar( a thought that may lead to something!
2ravity appears to interact with time! Time, for instance, is involved in the acceleration
e'pressions of gravity! But gravity is not only acceleration!
The *e0uivalence principle* shows that acceleration generated by other than a gravity
generating mass for instance, the acceleration of a spaceship can mimic the
acceleration of gravity!
The *e0uivalence principle* is not the *identical principle!* To loo( at it from another
angle, the totally different physical force of a magnet on an iron pellet could probably be
made to mimic the *attractingness* and acceleration of gravity! But magnetism is in no
way the same as gravity!
"or is the spaceship acceleration entirely li(e gravity! Acceleration of the spaceship
e'ample is produced by added energy! The acceleration of gravity comes from added
mass! Consider that gravity also *senses* other gravity *senses* another gravitational
mass in any spherical direction and pulls and accelerates it! -n this paper on time we are
interested in acceleration because it is pure time! But acceleration is not everything!
*6ass* is deceptive! Things loo( and feel solid! -f you loo( down at your hand, it loo(s
solid! But microscopic forces and fields cause this appearance and feel!
-n proportion to diameters, the atoms in your hand are as far apart from each other as the
stars are far apart from each other! Between atoms or stars there is a vast amount of
empty space! The mass of your hand or anything else is an illusion!
Before the Big Bang the mass of the universe was s0uashed together in that dot! Then, all
of space surrounded it! "ow great volumes of space are between everything that was
once in it and the once tiny universe has become vast!
What ma(es tiny into vast? Time ma(es tiny into vast! "ot only are #$!%& billion years of
time involved in e'panding tiny into vast, time is involved in our perception of mass and
energy! 1or e'ample, in "ewton)s 1 7 6A 81orce e0uals 6ass times Acceleration9 time
is built into the acceleration component! Time ma(es mass! Time also ma(es energy!
Time gives si,e to the substance of atoms and gala'ies!
Time turned that stuff of the primal dot into great si,e, powerful forces, solidseeming
mass, and the energy of the sun and other stars! All of those gala'ies of stars and their
would still be inside the threedimensional dot without time!
+instein showed that there is no such thing as gravity, only distortions in spacetime! So
it may become aw(ward to tal( about a possible substance called time creating
distortions in spacetime that is, a substance called time ultimately interacting with
-n view of this you could choose a different word, say *+insteinian!* There may or may
not be something more to this than that which is loc(ed into the dual concepts of
relativity and thus we may need to avoid the term *relativity!*
*+insteinian* gravitational time dilation appears in a manner of playful searching whimsy
to shed light on an interaction of time with gravity! What is gravitational time dilation? -t
is a relationship between gravity and time! To condense Wi(ipedia)s e'planation, cloc(s
that are far from massive gravitational bodies run faster, and cloc(s close to massive
gravitational bodies run slower! -n other words, gravity ma(es a cloc( on +arth tic(
slower than a cloc( that is halfway to the 6oon!
Since it has been shown that time interacts with gravity, then it is not too unreasonable to
entertain a whim that time could be a substance or stuff li(e a blueberry muffin that
interacts with gravity, yet undiscovered *timetons* of time perhaps interacting with yet
undiscovered *gravitons* of gravity!
There are other indications that the whim may not be absurd! There are the curious twin
limitations on the *speed of light* and *absolute ,ero* temperature! Both are limitations
on the motion of energy as if there was an *upper limit* and a *lower limit* on the
movement of energy! 8The speed of light is #%:,;;; miles per second, and absolute ,ero
temperature is .ust short of minus <:; degrees 1ahrenheit!9
What limits the speed of light? -s there an internal intelligence, a magic minichip inside
every photon or energy entity that acts to slow it down when it gets going too fast? 4r
alternatively is there something li(e a medium through which all photons pass, including
the phonons in electric wires, the properties of which forbid light to move any faster than
the speed limit? The former would seem to re0uire a universe that has intelligence, and
the latter would seem to reimpose the discredited aether medium, aether wind
unsuccessfully sought in the 6ichaelson6orley e'periment!
4r might one propose in an adventurous moment that possibly time itself ceases beyond
the ma'imum velocity of light, that whatever was born of time when it erupted in the Big
Bang abandons time when it surpasses the speed of light? 4r maybe time can no longer
be detected?
Time is detectable by motion, motion of matterenergy! At absolute ,ero movement
ceases and thus time would seem to also cease! The reverse of absolute ,ero, *absolute
hot,* would seem to be the temperature of the universe in the first instants of its Big Bang
inflation when time was in its infancy and when time may have been different than what
it is now! Both at a temperature of absolute ,ero and at Big Bang ,ero .ust before the
Big Bang matter and time could tempt one to see similarity between these two *,eros!*!
5resumably before the Big Bang, light 8energy9 pac(ed into a point had no *speed* and
thus had no time! After the Big Bang light seems always to have had a precisely defined
*speed,* a strange precise relationship with time! 6inds can be forgiven for as(ing why
there is a fi'ed speed of light! But in fact there is a speed of light! -f unobstructed by
material or by gravity, the *speed of light* seems constant throughout the universe!
=et)s loo( at the speed of light and go bac( to the earlier gaspedal analogy! We step on
the gas pedal and use more energy, and this use of more energy reduces the time it ta(es
to get where we are going! But what if we have a supercar that can go the speed of light
and that car)s wheels are on a treadmill that is already going the speed of light?
We step on the gas pedal and give the car more energy, but stepping on the gas pedal
doesn)t reduce the amount of time it ta(es to get us where we are going! -t only ma(es the
treadmill go faster! -f we loo( at the engine, the pistons are going up and down faster and
faster! -f the car was energy, that is to say light, the up and down light fre0uency, li(e the
up and down of the car pistons, would increase! But since the speed of light cannot
change, light with a lot more up and down motion doesn)t get where it is going any faster!
So can we analogi,e that the conveyor belt might represent time, perhaps represent a
particle of energy riding on a particle of time? >es, but analogies eventually fall apart!
Both the supercar and the photon of light can accept and use the increased energy, but
either something would seem to be absorbing the saved time or time is transforming into
matterenergy! Are particles of time becoming photons and protons?
Could these two very rigidly set numbers, *speed of light* and its companion *absolute
,ero,* be yet two more indications of interactions between matterenergy and the *stuff*
of time? Could this interaction of the substance of time with light be what creates light
*waves* and then s0uee,es *wavelengths* as more energy reacts with the substance of
=et)s divert for a moment and loo( at something else that might indicate an interaction
with time, radioactivity and e0ually important, nonradioactivity! There are four (nown
*eternal* particles? protons, electrons, photons, and neutrinos! =eft to themselves they
stay and don)t decay!
"eutrons may last forever inside a nucleus, but outside a nucleus neutrons decay! A
neutron out of the nucleus lasts .ust under #@ minutes! -t decays into a proton, electron, an
8anti9 neutrino, and energy! This decay appears to be a reversible process in mu mesons
8using mumeson neutrinos9 and apparently in ma(ing neutrons resulting from capture of
electron neutrinos and protons in neutrino e'periments in deep mines! And apparently in
the highenergy condition of the first moments of the Big Bang, protons could become
So free neutrons outside the nucleus relate to time with a measurable decay time of about
#@ minutes! 6u mesons relate to time with a measurable decay time of about &!&
microseconds! And for that matter, the multitude of the nonstable isotopes in the Chart
of the "uclides each have their own characteristic decay times 8halflives9, which is to
say their fi'ed personal relationships with time!
-f time is a substance, it seems to interact independently with each other substance and
property of our universe! 6oreover, if time is a substance, that substance of time 8as
opposed to an intuitive flow of time9 would have been created in the Big Bang!
Can we speculate? -n some alternative universe could there have been a Big Bang that
had no substance of time?
Absurd as it might be, let)s loo( at it! A preBig Bang singular point becomes a whole
universe in a timeless instant! Whatever the characteristics of repellant gravity may be,
without time this universe would be motionless and dead! But the main point is that
unli(e our own universe, it would not ta(e the stuff of time almost #< billion years to
e'pand to where we are now! -n one timeless instant it would have been a point! -n the
ne't timeless blin( of an eye it would have been a donedeal universe!
That scenario of the absurd re0uires a stretch of imagination! But if time is a substance it
would have been born in the Big Bang and immediately it would have governed
everything else in the universe! Would this mean free timetons li(e air governing the
behavior of the universe? 4r might it mean timetons imbedded in every detectable or
measurable particle in the universe 8possibly those particles without timetons being
But less ta'ing on the imagination, what about an alternative universe that was born with
only half as much of the substance of time and all the rest of the substance of time went
instead into being something else, perhaps more of the same electrons, photons, protons,
mesons, neutrinos, or perhaps something very different?
4r vice versa, if an alternative Big Bang created a universe with twice the substance of
time and only half of the substance of the rest of electrons, protons, photons, mesons,
neutrinos, would we live much longer but with great scarcity?
How might time, as a substance, e'ist or wor( in an e'panding universe?
Time appears to act evenly and thus be dispersed evenly throughout the universe! 6ight
this indicate that time came into e'istence with the very earliest instants of the Big Bang,
perhaps even in the earliest instants of some yetundiscovered preinflation protoBig
Bang and it attached itself to everything?
And in what form? 6ight time be carried in particles? And if there might be a time
particle, a *timeton,* might it have become embedded in every atom and subatomic
entity that e'ists in our universe? 4r is it li(e a field that affects everything?
Could it be that deeply embedded *timetons* are the whole driving force of the Big Bang,
*timetons* pushing light and everything else outward, causing the e'pansion of
everything, and striving to reach an impossible timeeternity?
Time, li(e air, is all around us! But unli(e air, it governs everything detectable in the
universe! The Big Bang might have been a bang of time, everything else having been
already present! We don)t (now what time is! But only by as(ing uninhibited 0uestions
can we ever find out!
Tom Slattery
Aoc(y Aiver, 4hio
Aevised Bune ##, &;#<