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The Real Time Traveler

January 25, 2017

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, maybe as a means of escape from this so-called reality into which I was born. The year is 2037, and the reality of life on planet earth is not so good. Global warming has taken its toll with droughts, famines, rising sea levels, floods and severe weather events. Now add in the political instability of mass population dislocation, refugee camps the size of small countries and the failure of nation states, all of which has led to the rise of radical apocalyptic ideologies and warlords who are constantly fighting for the control of territory and resources and who have the willingness to resort to regional nuclear warfare whenever they can get their dirty little hands on the nukes. So it’s no big surprise that hundreds of millions of people have died or been killed in the last decade. The good old USA, maybe because of its geographic isolation, is one of the last places left with any political stability, but that probably won’t last much longer. Representative democracy is long gone, and even America has become a totalitarian country ruled by a dictator. When the nation state finally crumbles and the food riots begin, it will be time to get out, but where to go?

Which brings me back to my fascination with time travel. For the last twenty years I’ve worked as a freelance science reporter, and so I’m familiar with all the latest pertinent research. I’ve found an expert of the topic and have plans to interview him today. His name is Jacob Bernstein. He’s a professor of theoretical physics at Stanford and he was the last PhD student of Leonard Susskind. He’s recognized as one of the foremost authorities on quantum gravity, which is the key to unlocking the secret of time travel. I’m at the Stanford Physics Department right now, waiting to meet him. Maybe this is only a pipe dream, but I hope a practical application of the theory can come out of this meeting.

We meet and walk over to his office where we sit down and begin to talk. After some small talk I ask him the big question: “What is quantum gravity?”

He answers:

“If by quantum gravity you mean a master set of equations, or an all encompassing ‘theory of everything‘, there is no such thing. In the spirit of relativity theory, quantum gravity is more of the nature of a geometric mechanism that leads to a set of theoretical equations that only have the validity of a thermal average. All the theoretical equations that we call the laws of physics aren’t really laws at all, but only arise as thermal averages.

“What is the nature of this geometric mechanism?”

“With the discovery of the big bang event that creates the universe, we realized there was a fundamental force or a source of energy that drives this creation. This creative energy is called dark energy, which in relativity theory is called a cosmological constant and is understood as the accelerated expansion of space. The expression of dark energy that gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space is what puts the ‘bang‘ in the big bang event. Without the expression of dark energy, there is no creation. In relativity theory, space can either appear to contract or expand relative to the point of view of an accelerated observer. We call the contraction of space the force of gravity and the expansion of space the force of dark energy. Dark energy is a kind of anti-gravity. Gravity is responsible for the attraction of massive objects to each other, while the force of dark energy drives the accelerated expansion of the universe from the point of singularity of the big bang event.”

singularity

Singularity

“If we place an observer at this point of singularity, space appears to expand away from the observer at an accelerated rate, faster the farther out the observer looks into space. Due to the limitation of the speed of light, which is like the maximal rate of information transfer in three dimensional space, a cosmic horizon surrounds the observer at the central point of view. The cosmic horizon is as far out into space as the observer can see things in space. This cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view is the fundamental nature of the geometric mechanism. The observer’s central point of view is the singularity of the big bang event that creates the universe as dark energy is initially expended.”

expanding universe

Accelerated Expansion of Space

“Where does the dark energy come from?”

“The whole thing has to begin with the true vacuum state, which is called the void. In some mysterious way, the expenditure of dark energy, which is the accelerated expansion of space that expands relative to the central point of view of an observer, arises from the void. Only the void can give rise to the expression of dark energy. But there is something even more mysterious than this initial expression of creative energy. Not only does this initial expenditure of dark energy arise from the void, but the perceiving consciousness of the observer at the central point of view must also arise from the void. In other words, the creation of the world and the perception of that world are always linked to each other. Creation always arises with perception.”

eternal observer

Universal Observer

“How is that even possible?”

“We don’t know. That’s the mystery. Creation and perception are always linked together. This is an inevitable consequence of the principle of equivalence, which is the foundation of relativity theory. The exertion of any force is equivalent to an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. Just as the force of gravity is equivalent to an observer accelerating through space in a rocket-ship, the force of dark energy is equivalent to an observer’s accelerated frame of reference. The energy expended in any accelerated reference frame is always equivalent to the exertion of a force, just like the energy expended by the thrusters of a rocket-ship that force it forward through space is equivalent to the force of gravity.”

gravity

Principle of Equivalence

“Can you explain how this acceleration gives rise to quantum gravity?”

“As the dark energy that creates the universe in a big bang event is initially expended, the observer at the central point of view observes a world that is limited by a cosmic horizon. Everything the observer can observe in that world is limited by the cosmic horizon. This horizon can only arise because the observer is in an accelerated frame of reference due to the expression of dark energy, which gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space that appears to expand relative to the observer’s central point of view. Since the horizon only arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference, we say the observer’s horizon is observer-dependent. The observer at the central point of view always has its own cosmic horizon that can only arise because the observer is in an accelerated frame of reference.”

exponential expansion of space

Cosmic Horizon

“Where does quantum gravity come from?”

“The idea of quantum gravity comes from the concept of information. The observer’s cosmic horizon encodes bits of information in a binary code of 1’s and 0’s, just like a computer screen. In analogy to a computer screen, we call the observer’s cosmic horizon a holographic screen. The observer’s cosmic horizon is a two dimensional bounding surface of space that encodes all the bits of information that specify the configuration states of everything the observer can observe in its world. Since the observer’s world appears three dimensional, we understand the observer’s cosmic horizon acts like a holographic screen, or a two dimensional surface that gives rise to three dimensional images in space, just like a conventional piece of holographic film. All the fundamental bits of information that define the configuration states of everything the observer can possibly observe in three dimensional space are encoded on the two dimensional bounding surface of that space, just like a hologram. This idea is called the holographic principle, which was discovered way back in the early 1990’s by Gerard ‘t Hooft and Leonard Susskind based on the way a black hole event horizon encodes bits of information to give rise to black hole entropy.”

entropy2

Horizon Entropy

“Where does the holographic principle come from?”

“Again, just like the expression of dark energy that gives rise to an observation-limiting cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view, we understand the holographic principle as a geometric mechanism. The most generic geometric mechanism that gives rise to the holographic principle is called non-commutative geometry, which is a way of quantizing position coordinates in space. If position coordinates on the observer’s cosmic horizon are specified in terms of a finite number of non-commuting variables rather than an infinite continuum of commuting position coordinates, then in effect each of these quantized position coordinates is smeared out into an area element that acts like a pixel and encodes a bit of information in a binary code. If there are n non-commuting variables that define these n quantized position coordinates on the surface, then the n bits of information are defined by the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix. In quantum gravity, the pixel size is about a Planck area, which gives the total number of bits of information encoded on the bounding surface in terms of surface area as n=(Surface area)/4(Planck area), which is the holographic principle. Just as the expression of dark energy is a geometric mechanism that gives rise to an observer’s cosmic horizon, the encoding of bits of information on the observer’s cosmic horizon with non-commutative geometry is also a geometric mechanism.”

Information01

The Holographic Principle

“Are you saying that the universe only has a single observer?”

“Yes. You are the observer of your world just as I am the observer of my world. You are the observer at the central point of view of your world just as I am the observer at the central point of view of my world. The cosmic horizon that limits and defines a world always arises in an observer’s accelerated frame of reference, and so it’s always observer-dependent. Everything I can observe in my world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on my cosmic horizon and everything you can observe in your world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on your cosmic horizon. In the language of quantum theory, every observer has it own Hilbert space of quantized observable values that are defined on its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon. The observer’s Hilbert space is defined by the non-commuting variables on its horizon that give rise to bits of information.”

horizon information

Horizon Information

“There is always the possibility that different observers can share a consensual reality to the degree their cosmic horizons overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information, just like the kind of information sharing we see in an interactive network of computer screen, like the internet. Information sharing in an overlapping network of screens is what allows different observers to apparently interact with each other.”

Overlapping bounded spaces

Overlapping Bounded Spaces

“What about many worlds or a multiverse?”

“The many world interpretation of quantum theory and the multiverse interpretation of inflationary cosmology are not consistent with quantum gravity for the simple reason that quantum gravity is an observer-centric description of observable reality. There’s only one observer per observable world. Each observer has its own world defined by how bits of information are encoded on its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon that arises as the dark energy is expended that creates the observer’s world in the first place. The observer’s cosmic horizon acts as a holographic screen that projects all the images of its world to the observer’s central point of view. That’s how the observer’s Hilbert space is constructed. It makes no sense to speak of other worlds unless we speak of other observers. We can only speak of other observers in terms of a shared consensual reality that arises as different holographic screens overlap in the sense of a Venn diagram and share information.”

“What does this tell us about the nature of objective reality?”

“If by objective reality you mean observable reality, then there is no such thing. Observable reality is always subjective in nature, and only exists in the ‘eye of the beholder‘, which is the focal point of consciousness of the observer. All observable images of the observer’s world are projected from its holographic screen to its central point of view in a screen output. This is the lesson of the relational interpretation of quantum theory understood in the context of the holographic principle, which tells us the observer’s Hilbert space of observable values is always defined on its holographic screen. The observer’s observable reality only exists because the observer observes it. The really big mystery is where the observer comes from. The only possible answer is the focal point of consciousness of the observer and the observer’s holographic screen both arise together from the true vacuum state or void as the dark energy that creates the observer’s world in the first place is expended, since that is how the observer’s cosmic horizon arises. If we want to say there is an ultimate or absolute nature of reality, then it is the void, but the void is not observable. The void is the source of observation in the sense it gives rise to both the observer and the observer’s observable world.”

The observer is the singular consciousness present at the singularity or central point of view of its own world. This is a natural consequence of the holographic principle. All the bits of information for things in the observer’s world are encoded on an event horizon that arises in the observer’s accelerated frame of reference and acts as a holographic screen that projects images of the observer’s world to the observer.”

“How is it possible that everything I can observe in my world is defined on a holographic screen? Are we living on the holodeck or in a virtual reality world? Is everything I can observe an illusion, no more real than a holographic image?”

“You could say that. Quantum gravity is only a mathematical description of the world, and this is what quantum gravity says about the world. The configuration state of everything that I can observe in my world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on my cosmic horizon, which acts as a holographic screen. In some sense, my holographic screen must project images of those things to my central point of view, just like the images of a physical hologram. The observer itself can only be understood as the consciousness present at the central point of view of the holographic screen. Everything observable in the observer’s world is like a holographic image projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s central point of view. In some sense, every observation of something is like a screen output that projects an image of the thing from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view, just like the screen outputs of images we see projected from a computer screen to an observer. John Wheeler called this ‘It from bit‘.”

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

The Observer, the Screen and the Thing

“How can everything be a screen output?”

“The idea of a screen output solves the puzzle of observation or measurement in quantum theory. The observer’s holographic screen encodes bits of information just like a computer screen, but this encoding is more like a quantum computer than a conventional computer. The observer’s holographic screen is described by a quantum state of potentiality, which describes all possible ways bits of information can become encoded on the screen in a binary code, with one bit of information encoded per pixel on the screen. Each observation of something is like a screen output, in which the quantum state of the screen is reduced to an actual configuration state of information defined on the screen. In quantum theory, we call the observation of something a quantum state reduction, which reduces the quantum state of potentiality to an actual state of information. Each screen output is a quantum state reduction. In the sense of holography, with each screen output the image of something is projected from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view. In the sense that projected images are the nature of creation, this also explains why creation is always linked to perception. Creation always occurs in a screen output, and the observer must always be present at the central point of view of the screen to perceive that creation.”

“What does it mean to say creation occurs in a screen output?”

“The quantum state of the observer’s holographic screen is a sum over all possible ways in which bits of information can become encoded on the screen. This sum is over all possible configuration states of information. This sum can always be expressed as a sum over all possible paths through an information configuration space. It is the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that follows this path through the information configuration space. Each possible path is a world-line through the space-time geometry projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view and animated over a sequence of screen outputs. Everything the observer can possibly observe in its world, which is literally everything in creation in the observer’s world, is projected from the screen to the observer in a screen output. As far as the observer knows, this is the sum total of all creation. In the sense of a quantum state reduction, a screen output chooses an actual configuration state from the sum over all possible configuration states, but a screen output also chooses an actual path for the observer to follow through its projected and animated space-time geometry. There is a big mystery here about how these choices are made. Does the observer choose which path to follow with its focus of attention on that path?”

Decision point

Decision-point on the Observer’s World-line

“Quantum theory tells us that the most likely path in the sense of quantum probability is the path of least action, which is like the shortest distance between two points in the information configuration space, and which we understand as the classical limit of the quantum state. The path of least action can only become the most likely path if choices are made in an unbiased way. As a quantum probability distribution, random measurement or unbiased choice is the only thing that gives the quantum state and the laws of physics, which are inherent in the quantum state, their predictability. What happens if bias enters into the way choices are made through the observer’s focus of attention? If there is bias in the way choices are made, the laws of physics lose their predictability and all bets are off.”

Sum over all paths

Sum Over all Possible Paths

“This is mind-boggling. I still don’t understand how everything is defined on the screen.”

“The configuration state of everything the observer can observe in its world is defined by how bits of information are encoded on the observer’s holographic screen. Not only are the images of things projected from the screen to the observer in a screen output, but even the observer’s space-time geometry is projected from the observer’s screen to the observer’s point of view over a sequence of screen outputs. The observer’s space-time geometry is both projected and animated, like the animation of a movie projected from a screen to an observer. The observer’s space-time geometry is defined by the spatial and temporal relationships of the images projected from the screen to the observer with each screen output and with the animation of those images over a sequence of screen outputs. The curvature of space-time geometry is like the distortion of images seen in a movie animated on a screen as images are projected from the screen to an observer.”

Black hole projection

Holographic Projection

“How is this animation of images over a sequence of screen outputs related to the possibility of time travel?”

“The key to understanding time travel is the concept of a time-line, but in relativity theory a time-line is called a world-line. It is the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that appears to follow an accelerated world-line through its space-time geometry as energy is expended and the observer enters into an accelerated frame of reference. Each screen output on that world-line is an event, which is a moment of time in the observer’s rest frame. The observer always follows a world-line through its space-time geometry, but that space-time geometry is always projected from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view in a screen output and is animated over a sequence of screen outputs. This animation of events over a sequence of screen outputs is the nature of the observer’s time-line. This animation always occurs in the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that animates everything in its world.”

Observer's Horizon

Accelerating Observer’s Horizon

“What do you mean by the normal flow of energy?”

“Modern cosmology tells us that the observer’s world is created in a big bang event due to the expenditure of dark energy that gives rise to the accelerated expansion of space that always expands relative to the observer’s central point of view. The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world arises due to an instability in the concentration of dark energy that causes it to transition to a lower level. This transition to a lower level is like a phase transition from a metastable or false vacuum state to a more stable vacuum state of lower energy. This transition is like a process of burning in which dark energy burns away and heat is radiated away, just like the burning of any kind of energy.”

quantum tunneling

Metastable State

“The holographic principle tells us the temperature of the observer’s cosmic horizon is inversely proportional to the radius of the horizon, while relativity theory tells us the radius of the cosmic horizon increases as the concentration of dark energy in the observer’s world decreases. At the initial moment of the big bang event that creates the observer’s world, the concentration of dark energy was maximal, which gives a minimal radius of the observer’s cosmic horizon of about a Planck length and a maximal horizon temperature. Due to the instability in dark energy, as dark energy transitions to a lower level and burns away, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature. The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world reflects the second law of thermodynamics, which tells us that heat tends to flow from hotter states to colder states. As dark energy burns away and transitions to a lower level, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size and cools in temperature, which sets the thermal gradient that drives the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world as heat flows from hotter to colder states of the observer’s world.”

normal-flow-of-energy

Normal Flow of Energy Through the Observer’s World

“The normal flow of energy through the observer’s world reflects this normal flow of heat in a thermal gradient as dark energy burns away and the observer’s world inflates in size and cools in temperature. This normal flow of thermal energy naturally arises in this thermal gradient. This also explains the mystery of ‘time’s arrow‘, as the normal course of time is related to the normal flow of thermal energy through the observer’s world. As far as the holographic principle goes, a thermal gradient is also a temporal gradient.”

“What happens when all the dark energy burns away?”

“When dark energy burns away to zero, the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity and cools in temperature to absolute zero. This defines the true vacuum state, which is called the void. The true vacuum state has zero dark energy and absolute stability. All states of the observer’s world are defined by a non-zero value for dark energy, and so all states of the observer’s world are metastable or false vacuum states. The source of dark energy in the observer’s world is the central point of singularity of the big bang event, which is the observer’s central point of view, while the final heat sink for all the radiated heat is infinity as the observer’s cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity as dark energy burns away to zero. Only the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that arises as dark energy burns away and heat flows from hotter to colder states of the observer’s world can drive the normal animation of the observer’s world over a sequence of screen outputs. When dark energy finally burns away to zero, heat no longer flows in a thermal gradient and so the animation of the observer’s world comes to an end. In thermodynamics, this end of animation is called the ‘heat death‘ of the world, which is a state of thermal equilibrium at absolute zero. This end of animation is also the ‘end of time‘. In this final state of absolute stability, there is no longer any projection from a holographic screen or any animation over a sequence of screen outputs. All that remains in this final state of absolute stability is the infinite undifferentiated nothingness of the void or true vacuum state.”

“What happens to the observer when its world is no longer animated and comes to an end? What does this tell us about the nature of consciousness?”

“Just as the expenditure of dark energy that creates the observer’s world in the first place must in some mysterious way arise from the true vacuum state, the consciousness of the observer must also in some mysterious way arise from the void. When dark energy burns away to zero and all heat is finally radiated away to infinity, the observer’s consciousness must in some mysterious way also return to the true vacuum state. When the observer’s world finally comes to an end, the observer’s consciousness must return to the void.”

“How is the flow of thermal energy that arises from the instability in dark energy related to the bits of information encoded and organized on a holographic screen?”

“We normally think of energy in terms of the energy of motion of things in three dimensional space, which we call kinetic energy, and the energy of attraction or repulsion of those things, which we call potential energy that gives rise to forces of attraction and repulsion. Thermal energy is only randomized kinetic energy, while temperature is only an average measurement of thermal energy. The holographic principle tells us all the things that appear to move around in three dimensional space and that attract or repel each other are like images projected from a two dimensional holographic screen to the point of view of an observer. All the bits of information that specify the configuration states of these observable things are encoded on the holographic screen. These observable things even include what we call elementary particles. Even an elementary particle reduces down to a configuration state of information encoded on the screen. Each observation of something is like a projection of an image of that thing from the screen to the observer, and those images appear to become animated over a sequence of screen outputs. The flow of thermal energy arises because bits of information can flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions over a sequence of screen outputs, like spin variables that can flip back and forth between the spin up and the spin down positions. Potential energy arises because all the bits of information arise from the n eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, and all those eigenvalues are entangled with each other. Although not well appreciated, entangled bits of information like entangled spin variables naturally tend to align together, which gives rise to the potential energy of alignment. The tendency of entangled spin variables to align together explains the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet, but the tendency for entangled bits of information on a holographic screen to align together or anti-align together explains the gravitational attraction of masses and the attraction and repulsion of the electric and nuclear charges carried by elementary particles. All kinetic energy fundamentally arises because bits of information tend to flip back and forth over a sequence of screen outputs, while all potential energy fundamentally arises because entangled bits of information tend to align or anti-align with each other as they flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions, which is just like the entanglement of spin variables in quantum theory.”

entangle2

Entanglement of Information

“This concept of thermal energy understood in terms of bits of information encoded on a holographic screen that tend to flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions also allows us to calculate the absolute temperature T of a holographic screen in terms of the screen radius R. The easiest way to understand this is in terms of the event horizon of a black hole, but the concept for a cosmic horizon is really no different. Nothing can escape from a black hole because the force of gravitational attraction inside the black hole is so strong that even light cannot escape.”

Black hole

Black Hole Event Horizon

“The event horizon of a black hole is a bounding surface of space of radius R where the force of gravity is just barely strong enough to bind light, which is to say a photon at the event horizon has just barely enough kinetic energy to escape away from the gravitational attraction of the black hole. Relativity theory tells us the kinetic energy E of the photon is given in terms of its momentum p as E=pc, while quantum theory tells us the photon’s momentum p is given in terms of its wavelength λ as p=h/λ. A photon that is just barely gravitationally bound to the black hole and just barely able to escape away has a wavelength about equal to the maximal circumference of the event horizon λ=2πR, which gives the energy of this photon as E=hc/2πR. Thermodynamics gives the average thermal energy of a bit of information encoded on the event horizon in terms of the horizon’s absolute temperature T as E=kT. If we equate the average thermal energy of a bit of information encoded on the horizon to the energy of a thermal photon that is just barely able to escape away from the black hole and become radiated to an observer, this gives the absolute temperature of the horizon as kT=hc/2πR.”

Hawking radiation2

Hawking Radiation From a Black Hole Event Horizon

“Hawking Radiation away from the event horizon of a black hole is the radiation of thermal photons into three dimensional space. These thermal photons appear to be radiated to the point of view of a distant observer, but this is only a holographic projection. The energy of the radiated photons actually arises on the horizon in terms of the average thermal energy of the bits of information encoded on the horizon that tend to flip back and forth between the 1 and 0 positions.”

Information

Information Encoded on a Black Hole Event Horizon

“The original Hawking calculation considered virtual photons created as particle-antiparticle pairs near the event horizon of the black hole. These virtual photons are entangled. For a stationary distant observer that accelerates in a rocket-ship away from the black hole with an acceleration equal to the black hole’s force of gravity, the virtual photons become separated as one falls across the event horizon into the black hole while the other is radiated away from the event horizon to the distant observer. For the distant observer these photons are no longer entangled and the observed thermal photon is a particle of Hawking radiation. For a freely falling observer that falls through the event horizon, the black hole’s horizon is only an imaginary surface in space and the virtual photons remain entangled and unobservable. For the freely falling observer there are no particles of Hawking radiation and these particles simply do not exist. How can particles of Hawking radiation appear to exist for the distant accelerated observer but not for the freely falling observer? The answer is holography. The thermal photon radiated away from the black hole’s horizon to the point of view of the distant observer is only a holographic projection that arises from entangled bits of information encoded on the event horizon that acts as a holographic screen. These entangled bits of information correspond to the entanglement of the virtual particle-antiparticle photon pairs that become unentangled and observable for the distant observer but remain entangled and unobservable for the freely falling observer. The reason radiated thermal photons of Hawking radiation become observable and appear to exist for the distant accelerated observer but remain unobservable and do not appear to exist for the freely falling observer is because the observation of thermal photons is only a holographic projection to the distant observer.”

“You mentioned the accelerated expansion of space that gives rise to a cosmic horizon with the expression of dark energy and the encoding of bits of information on the horizon with non-commutative geometry are only geometric mechanisms that give rise to the laws of physics as thermal averages. Can you say more about how that happens?”

“Way back in the 1990’s, around the same time that ‘t Hooft and Susskind discovered the holographic principle, Ted Jacobson also discovered that Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric, which describe the nature of gravity as the curvature of space-time geometry, arise from the holographic principle as a thermal average as long as things are near thermal equilibrium, which is called a thermodynamic equation of state. The law of gravity isn’t really a law at all but only a thermal average description of the world that arises from the holographic principle, which is more fundamental than gravity. The holographic principle in turn only arises from the geometric mechanisms of the expansion of space that gives rise to a cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view and non-commutative geometry that gives rise to the encoding of bits of information on the observer’s cosmic horizon. The space-time geometry of the observer’s world is projected from the observer’s holographic screen to its central point of view in a screen output and is animated over a sequence of screen outputs.”

Einstein Field Equations

Einstein’s Field Equations for the Space-time Metric

“What about the other fundamental forces and elementary particles?”

“Once we understand that Einstein’s field equations for gravity arise from the holographic principle as thermodynamic equations of state, we can then understand that the unification of gravity with all other fundamental forces arises through the usual unification mechanisms of super-symmetry and the Kaluza-Klein mechanism of extra compactified dimensions of space. In this way, unification finally results in a kind of 11-dimensional super-gravity, which is a part of M-theory, and is understood as a low energy limit.”

Compactified space

Extra Compactified Dimensions of Space

“This unification process gives rise to the so-called fundamental forces of gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces and to all the elementary particles of the standard model of particle physics as formulated with quantum field theory. We understand quantum fields are extra components of the space-time metric that arise due to super-symmetry and extra compactified dimensions of space. With unification, all internal structure of particles, like electric and nuclear charge, is understood to arise much like the Bohr mechanism as momentum is quantized in extra compactified dimensions of space, while all external structure of particles, like ordinary quantized energy and momentum, is understood to arise as a quantum field wave-packet that propagates over the course of time through the extended dimensions of space.”

bohrorbit

Quantization of Momentum in a Circular Orbit

“Since Einstein’s field equations for the space-time metric only have the significance of a thermodynamic equation of state that arises as a thermal average, all the quantum field theories of the standard model of particle physics can also only have the significance of a thermodynamic equation of state. In reality there is no such thing as a fundamental force or elementary particle. The emergence of a quantum field theory is just like the equation for sound waves that arises from atomic theory as a thermodynamic equation of state. The quantum of sound waves, which is called a phonon, isn’t really a fundamental particle. In the same way, the quantum of electromagnetic waves, which is called the photon, isn’t really a fundamental particle. They both exist only in the sense of a thermal average. The standard model of particle physics is the basis for atomic theory, but quantum field theories are no more fundamental than the equation for sound waves. They all have the significance of a thermodynamic equation of state. There’s no such thing as fundamental particles or forces. Neither a photon nor an electron nor a quark is really fundamental.”

wave-packet

Wave-packet

“What is fundamental?”

“We might say only the holographic principle is fundamental since it’s more fundamental than the fundamental forces or elementary particles, but the holographic principle only arises through the geometric mechanisms of the accelerated expansion of space that gives rise to a cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view and non-commutative geometry that gives rise to the encoding of bits of information on the observer’s cosmic horizon. These geometric mechanisms in some mysterious way arise from the true vacuum state, so I guess we could say only the void is really fundamental.”

Illusion and reality

“Are you saying that nothing is really fundamental?”

“Yes. In some sense, everything is really nothing. The remarkable discovery of modern cosmology is cosmic observations indicate the total energy of the observable universe is exactly zero. This is possible in relativity theory since the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction can exactly cancel out the total amount of dark energy and all other forms of positive energy that arise from dark energy.”

“How do other forms of energy, like mass energy, arise from dark energy?”

“The answer is symmetry breaking. As dark energy burns away, high energy photons are created, which can create particle-antiparticle pairs, like proton-antiproton pairs. One of the mysteries of cosmology is why there are so many protons in the universe and so few antiprotons. Symmetry breaking solves the riddle. At high energies, antiprotons can decay into electrons and protons can decay into positrons, but there is a difference in the decay rates due to a broken symmetry, and so more antiprotons decay than protons. As the universe cools, protons become relatively stable, and so that’s what’s left over. Even the mass of the proton arises through a process of symmetry breaking called the Higgs mechanism. The expenditure of energy that characterizes all the gauge forces, like electromagnetic energy in a living organism or nuclear energy in a star, all arise from dark energy through a process of symmetry breaking, but all of this positive energy is exactly cancelled out by the negative potential energy of gravitational attraction.”

there is no spoon

There is No Spoon

“The fact that the total energy of the observable universe exactly adds up to zero tells us something important. Since everything in the world is composed of energy and all energy ultimately adds up to zero, this tells us that everything is really nothing in disguise.”

ying-yang

Ying-Yang Balance

“What role does the observer play in the creation of its world?”

“The nature of quantum potentiality tells us every observation is a choice or a decision point on the observer’s world-line as the observer’s world-line or path branches into all possible paths. In computer terms, every observation is like a screen output. In the language of quantum theory, every observation is a decision point on the observer’s path about what to observe and which path to follow. It would seem that the observer expresses its choices through its focus of attention on images of its world.”

“I find it difficult to accept that all the complexity of the world arises from bits of information encoded on a holographic screen.”

“The solution to the puzzle of complexity is coherent organization of information. This is like the kind of coherent organization that develops in a phase transition, like the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet, which is an example of symmetry breaking. Symmetry breaking develops because there is always a balance between the organizing effects of potential energy that tends to organize information into forms and the disorganizing effects of the flow of thermal energy as heat flows in a thermal gradient. If organizing potential energy wins the balance, coherent organization spontaneously develops and information is organized into forms. Coherent organization is what allows for the self-replication of forms over a sequence of events. It’s only organizing potential energy that can coherently hold the form together over an animating sequence of events and allow for self-replication of form, while the thermal flow of heat through the form tends to disorganize the form. This naturally happens when bits of information are encoded on a holographic screen since the bits of information are defined by the eigenvalues of an SU(n) matrix, and all those eigenvalues are entangled with each other. This entanglement of information is characterized by an interference pattern. If you’ve ever looked microscopically at a piece of holographic film, you’ll only see an interference pattern, not the images of things, and yet the holographic film is able to project the three dimensional images of things into space. This is because the interference pattern represents the entanglement of information, and entangled bits of information naturally give rise to the development of coherent organization of forms. As Einstein tells us, entanglement implies non-locality or ‘spooky action at a distance‘. This is a direct consequence of all the information for the observer’s world encoded on a holographic screen where all the bits of information are entangled. We might say that everything in that world is connected to everything else.”

spooky action

Spooky Action at a Distance

“Don’t the laws of physics have to be in operation before symmetry breaking can occur?”

“No. Only the holographic principle has to be in operation. The laws of physics are not fundamental but spontaneously emerge through symmetry breaking like everything else in the observer’s world. All the laws of physics that appear to govern that world can only arise as thermal averages, which is what the second law of thermodynamics tells us in the framework of the holographic principle. As long as things are near thermal equilibrium, the laws of physics only appear fixed and stable due to symmetry breaking, and in some sense have frozen out of the quantum state of potentiality like a phase transition that turns water into ice, although the better analogy is probably the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The laws of physics only appear stable because they all arise through symmetry breaking within a metastable or false vacuum state. The nature of symmetry breaking tells us that bits of information spontaneously become organized into complex forms as energy flows in a thermal gradient, like the spontaneous magnetization of a magnet. The holographic principle and the expression of dark energy explain how bits of information become encoded on a holographic screen in relation to the point of view of an observer, and the instability in dark energy explains the origin of the thermal gradient. The expression of complexity arises through these geometric mechanisms because the organization of information occurs at a metastable state. Even the transition from one metastable state to another metastable state is a kind of symmetry breaking. This is epitomized by a cosmological constant that is only ‘constant‘ within a metastable state, while the transition from one value of the cosmological constant to another value is akin to a phase transition.”

“Some researchers say complexity arises because of fractal geometry.”

“No problem. Like M-theory, fractal geometry is a special case of non-commutative geometry, which gives rise to the holographic principle. In the end, it all comes down to holography. Fractal geometry is fine as an explanation for how complexity develops, but it can’t explain where all the information comes from. The holographic principle can. There is another interesting aspect of complexity that only the holographic principle in the context of modern cosmology can explain. All states of the observer’s world are defined by a non-zero value of dark energy, since that is what gives rise to the observer’s cosmic horizon that acts as a holographic screen. All states of the observer’s world have the nature of a metastable or false vacuum state. The instability in dark energy as it transitions to a lower level and as heat flows in a thermal gradient is what gives rise to the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world that animates everything in its world over a sequence of screen outputs. As is well known from the study of fractal geometry, complexity naturally arises whenever information becomes organized within a metastable state. The spontaneous emergence of the complexity of things is characteristic of the metastable state. Complexity researchers call this ‘the edge of chaos‘. Geometric systems which are characterized by information naturally develop coherent organization when they become organized within a metastable state that is near the phase transition to disorganization and chaos. Dark energy and the holographic principle give a natural explanation for the nature of this metastable state.”

“Are you saying all complexity arises from symmetry breaking?”

“Yes. Symmetry breaking begins with the creation of the observer’s world and comes to an end when that world comes to an end. In the sense that the true vacuum state or void gives rise to the creation of the observer’s world with the expression of dark energy, the void is the ‘alpha and omega‘, the beginning and end of everything in that world. The expenditure of dark energy breaks the symmetry of empty space by constructing an observation limiting cosmic horizon that surrounds the observer at the central point of view. The instability in dark energy is like a process of burning that burns away dark energy and undoes this broken symmetry. As dark energy burns away to zero, the cosmic horizon inflates in size to infinity, and the symmetry is restored. We understand that this undoing of symmetry breaking is like a phase transition from a false vacuum state to a true vacuum state. Dark energy burns away as the phase transition occurs. This idea is also consistent with the current measured value of the cosmological constant, Λ=10−123, based on the rate with which distant galaxies are observed to accelerate away from us, which also corresponds to the size of the observable universe of about 15 billion light years.”

accelerating universe

Accelerating Universe

“My last questions are about the possibility of time travel. What does the holographic principle tell us about this possibility?”

“The really big question to answer is who exactly is the time traveler? We understand that the animation of the observer’s world occurs over a sequence of screen outputs that arise in the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world. The observer’s time-line is really a world-line, and it is the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness that appears to follow this world-line through its projected and animated space-time geometry. Space is projected from the observer’s holographic screen to its central point of view with each screen output, and time is animated over a sequence of screen outputs. It is the observer itself that follows the world-line. The normal course of time results from the normal flow of energy through the observer’s world. Each contiguous event on the observer’s time-line uses up a little bit of the dark energy that was expended in the creation of the observer’s world. If we want the observer to make a discontinuous jump on its time-line, either forward or backward in time, it will take a lot more energy to oppose the normal flow of energy that gives rise to contiguous events. A big time-line jump might take an appreciable fraction of the total amount of energy that went into creation of the observer’s world in the first place. That’s only the first problem. The bigger problem has to do with the nature of who the time traveler really is. The time traveler is the observer, which is only a focal point of consciousness present at the central point of view of the observer’s world.”

“Why is this a problem?”

“When time travel is depicted in science fiction, it’s usually a person that time travels. This gives rise to all kinds of time paradoxes, like a person meeting a younger or older version of the same person. The famous grandfather paradox arises if the time-traveling person kills the person’s grandfather before the person’s father is born, so how can the person ever be born? In other science fiction, the person doesn’t time travel, but the person’s content of consciousness is somehow downloaded into the mind of another person who lives at another time. This downloaded content of consciousness gives the consciousness of the time traveler access to all its old memories, thoughts and identity even though that consciousness is now inhabiting another person. Both of these science fiction concepts are badly flawed. In reality, only the observer can time travel as it makes a discontinuous world-line jump, but the observer is only a focal point of consciousness that arises in relation to a holographic screen that projects all images of the observer’s world. The image of a person is projected from the screen to the observer and animated over a sequence of screen outputs just like any other image of the observer’s world. What we call personal identity is only like the central character of a movie the observer is watching. Even the content of consciousness is personal. Not only is the image of the person projected from the screen to the observer, but so too are all the person’s thoughts, memories and other forms of mental imagination. Everything in the observer’s world, whether physical or mental, is projected like the images of a movie from the observer’s holographic screen to the observer’s central point of view. A person cannot time travel because a person is like an image projected from the screen. A person’s content of consciousness cannot time travel because that content of consciousness is also like an image projected from the screen. All information in the observer’s world is encoded on the screen. Only the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness can time travel. If the observer makes a discontinuous jump on its world-line, in all probability that observer will see things from the point of view of a person, but that new person may or may not appear to be the same person that appeared in the observer’s world prior to time travel. Whoever that new person appears to be, the content of consciousness the observer perceives will be characteristic of that new person, not the old person. The observer will have no memory of the old person and no sense of identity with the old person. All memories and identity will be characteristic of the new person. It’s as though the observer has always been identified with the new person. The time-traveling observer will have no awareness or memory of having time traveled. It’s as though nothing has happened.”

“Is the science fiction depiction of a time-traveling person totally wrong?”

“Yes. It’s absolutely wrong. Neither a person nor a person’s content of consciousness can time travel. Both the observer’s personal identity and its content of consciousness are only like images projected from its holographic screen to its central point of view. All information is encoded on the screen. Only the observer itself as a focal point of consciousness can time travel if it makes a discontinuous jump on its world-line. The normal course of time arises as contiguous events, while time travel can only occur in a discontinuous jump. In all probability, the time-traveling observer will have a new personal identity and a new mentally constructed content of consciousness, but will have no memory of its old personal identity or old content of consciousness. The mistake science fiction makes is to assume that the observer’s consciousness belongs to the person, when in reality it’s exactly the other way around. In some sense, personal identity and the person’s mentally constructed content of consciousness belong to the observer. This is an inevitable consequence of every observer having its own holographic world defined on its own observer-dependent cosmic horizon. Only the observer can time travel by making a discontinuous jump on its world-line. If that time-traveling jump is big enough, the observer’s new personal identity and content of consciousness will in all probability become radically different than its old personal identity and content of consciousness. The possibility of time travel to the past with your memory intact so that you can take advantage of future events or make different choices that change the course of future events is simply not possible since it is only the observer that can time travel, not the person or the person’s mentally constructed content of consciousness. The time-traveling observer always leaves these things behind. The time-traveling observer takes no memories of future events with itself into the past. There is the possibility of prediction at any moment of time to the extent the normal flow of things can be extrapolated forward in time, but the prediction of future events is not the same as the memory of future events. There is no such thing as memory of future events, even when an observer time-travels back to the past. All memory, like all personal identity, is characteristic of a particular moment in time. In all probability, events for the time-traveling observer will play out just like they played out the first time. The observer can time travel to the past as many times as it likes and events will tend to play out the same. It’s like groundhog day, except every day is the same day, over and over again. That’s the nature of quantum probability. The probability for events to play out a different way for an object as large as a person is exceedingly small unless the observer somehow knows how events are supposed to play out and consciously makes different choices, but the observer can never know with certainty how things are supposed to play out.”

“Weird.”

References:

Gefter, A., Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn. Random House, 2014.

Jacobson, T., Thermodynamics of Spacetime: The Einstein Equation of State. Phys.Rev.Lett. 1995.

Susskind, L., The World as a Hologram. J.Math.Phys. 1995.

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