Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Temporal Vacua and Absolute Zero

frankd23 said...
This is a question that I hope some people will answer...I can't figure out how to make my own post because I'm terrible with computers so i figured Id just make a comment on this question. A temporal vacuum is just an area where everything stops changing, and essentially stops moving. I argue in my paper that temporal vacua are just areas where at absolute zero. I feel that the argument is sound unless there is some way for an area to stop moving completely without it being at absolute zero. I have a possible explanation but i still think absolute zero wins in the end. Id' like to hear some of your ideas

8:24 PM

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Question

Which of the following combinations of views are consistent*:

1. Objectivism about metric and relationism about time
2. Objectivism about metric and absolutism about time
3. Conventionalism about metric and relationism about time
4. Conventionalism about metric and absolutism about time

I am particularly interested in what you guys think about (4).

*Note: A combination of views is consistent if, and only if, supposing that both views are true does not commit you to a contradiction. An obvious example of an inconsistent combination of views would be if one held that atheism and theism are both correct. A combination of views might be consistent but very unattractive. It is consistent, but very unattractive, to hold that invisible sparkling monkeys cause lights to go on and off, for instance.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Our perception of time

As I was reading chapter 2 I started thinking that if time were just composed of changes, what would happen if you put someone in a completely pitch black room in a space station where they couldn't smell, hear, see, taste, or touch anything, and they couldn't move at all? Would he be able to perceive time by just the changes in his mind? Are physical changes and mental changes the same, or do we just perceive time by changes we pick up physically? Would it be the same type of thing as going to sleep in a dark room and waking up in darkness still and not knowing how much time has passed? I know that has happened to me a number of times- I think I have been asleep for hours or that it is the next day even, but look at a clock and see it has only been 15 minutes. I'd be interested to hear what you all think about this if it makes sense at all.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The concept of time

Why does it matter if time itself is inaccurate? Basically everybody in the entire world goes off the "real or correct" time. Don't get me wrong, but if everybody believes something to be a truth then isn't it a truth. Everyone in the world believes the sky is blue, but someone can say that it isn't blue. So does that make it correct for us to question the validity of the statement that the sky is blue?
Time itself is very debatable. Scientific views of time say that the earth is over five billion years old. However, religious views (i.e. judaic views) say that the earth is 5762 years old. Which one is correct? Does it really matter how old the earth is? The explanation that the earth is over five billion years old makes it easier for us to understand biological views. But, maybe the view that the earth is 5762 years old means that before there was a "standard" time, years were longer than they are long. Each year could have been a thousand of "our" years. So, time is always going to be debatable because we simply don't have the facts. The only thing I want to rely on is that the standard time is fairly accurate and I don't want to have to go to some weird new definition of days and hours.

Writing Assignment 2

Writing Assignment 2:

First: Present an argument from Le Poidevin for the conclusion that conventionalism about the metric of time is true or present an argument from Le Poidevin for the conclusion that objectivism about the metric of time is true. Try to make your argument valid. You do not need to state the form or forms by which the argument is valid.

Next: Briefly explain the premises. That is, state in a sentence or three why one might take the premise to be true.

Next: State which premise you think is false and why. Be brief.

Finally: Cite your source.

Note 1: This assignment should not take more than one page.

Note 2: There is no need to write the argument out in paragraph form. The format of your assignment should be as follows :

An Argument for the Conclusion that Blah

Premise 1:

Premise 2:

. . .

Conclusion: Therefore, conventionalism/objectivism about the metric of time is true.

Explanation of premise 1:

Explanation of premise 2:

. . .

I think Premise n is false because (etc.)


Please raise any questions you may have about the assignment by commenting on this post.

Could space exist with nothing in it?

I'd like to comment on the possibility that space could exist with nothing in it. I believe that space could absolutely exist with nothing in it. I'll make my argument regarding the tiny spaces in matter between where electrons orbit and where the nucleus is.
First of all, it has been proven that matter is made up of atoms, which are made up of protons, electrons, and neutrons, and that these electrons orbit the positively charged nucleus. Rutherford's gold foil experiment proved this when he shot positively charged alpha particles through thin gold foil. The particles that were deflected or that came straight back hit the nucleus. However, the vast majority shot straight through so there must be empty space inside atoms. I believe more recent discoveries have been made regarding smaller particles that make up the subatomic particles that are called quarks, but I don't know enough on the subject to comment further on it.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Is there a fourth dimension?

The question of whether or not there is a fourth dimension is an intriguing one. I'll attempt to explain why I believe that there IS in fact a fourth dimension. In order to have a curved line, which is the first dimension, you need a second dimension for it to be curved on. But in order for the second dimension to be curved to curve that light, there must be a curved third dimension. But in order for there to be a curved third dimension, which is what we're in, there must be a fourth dimension. That is my reasoning behind the possibility of a fourth dimension.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why does the universe exist?

I am posing my own question here to see what people think about the subject. In all physical laws there's an idea of symmetry. A simple example is Newton's well known law "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". The same thing goes for particles when they pop into existence. There is a normal particle and an antimatter equivalent. These particles are exact opposites of each other in almost every possible way and when they collide they completely annihilate each other. Now the conundrum: why is it that antimatter is so rare in our universe? At the creation of the universe matter and antimatter were created in equal quantities to have a net result of zero. Where did all the antimatter go? It couldn't have collided with matter since normal matter is still around in such massive quantities.
The best explanation physicists have come up with are small quantum fluctuations that cause antimatter to decay slightly more quickly than normal matter but these models can't account for the huge difference in the amounts of each present in the universe. If it weren't for this discrepancy we wouldn't exist today. So why exactly is it that the universe exists at all?

The Beginning of Time

Admin note: I am moving this comment to the main section of the blog so it is easier to access.

Hawaii said...
Well since I'm supposed to make more posts...I'll see about another question.

Did time have a beginning or does it extend infinitely in either direction? I guess my stance is formed around the big bang. I believe this is generally accepted as the beginning of our universe. I will assume that this is the case. Now before the big bang...can we tell what the universe was like at all? The answer is no. Since we can't tell what the universe was like before the big bang, then it doesn't matter what happened before the big bang. To me, this means that time restarted at the big bang. Nothing that happened before affects us now so it may as well have never happened at all.

The answer is that time did have a beginning with the big bang. Is it possible to have multiple beginnings? Perhaps time is more like a set of rays as opposed to a single line.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Time Travel

Admin Note: I am moving this discussion of time travel to the main area of the blog so it's easier to access.

frankd23 said...
I would like to make a comment about the possibility of time travel. Even though the majority of people feel that it is possible, there are some that dont and I would like to try and convince you. Time travel is THEORETICALLY possible with the use of a wormhole. A wormhole is two black holes that are connected through a fourth dimension called hyperspace. It is essentially a tunnel. Now suppose we shook hands through the wormhole, and then I was to go and take a trip at speeds close to that of the speed of light. Because of Einstein's and other brilliant scientists theories, I would experience time dilation. That is, my time would pass more slowly then ur time. So what seemed like 1 year to me may have been hundreds to you. So I return to earth after my 1 year and your hundreds. It is then possible for me to step through the wormhole to where u are and be in the future, and same with u as you would be in the past. Of course I'm no expert on the topic and some of what I just explained may need a few small fixes but the majority of it should be correct. I also can't take credit for coming up with that explanation because I intially read it in Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip S Thorne (Great book I recommend it and the class). So hypothetically time travel is possible, however I dont believe we will ever achieve it through the use of a wormhole. So I hope I was able to convert a couple of you to believing that time travel is possible. If you have good arguments against what I said I'd love to hear them. But keep in my I'm argueing that time travel is possible. I am NOT argueing that we will in fact achieve time travel.

11:20 AM

Thursday, September 08, 2005

First Assignment Sample/Template

Here is a sample/template of the sort of thing I'm looking for on the first assignment.

Section 1: Present the Argument:

Premise 1: Blah blah.
Premise 2: If blah blah then blee blee.
Conclusion: Therefore, blee blee.

Section 2: Explain the Argument:

Premise 1 is true because . . .
Premise 2 is true because . . .

That is all you really need. Now I will write some comments on the above template.

Comment 1: Your conclusion should be a declarative sentence instead of 'blee blee'.

Example: 'Therefore, time travel is not possible.'

Comment 2: You should try to make your presented argument deductively valid. 'Deductive validity' is defined on the handout and in the Argument Handbook. Any argument that has the form of the argument above is valid by Modus Ponens. You do not need to state that in your assignment. Just try to present a valid argument.

Comment 3: The premises of your argument should be reasons for thinking the conclusion is true, along with premises that logically connect your reasons with your conclusion.

Example: If your conclusion is 'Therefore, time travel is impossible', one reason to think that is true is that, as far as we know, people from the future have not travelled back to our time to tell us about it. You can replace 'blah blah' in the above argument with this reason. Note that the second premise just says that if [reason], then [conclusion]. So the resulting argument would look like this in English:

Premise 1: People from the future have not travelled back to our time.
Premise 2: If people from the future have not travelled back to our time, then time travel is impossible.
Conclusion: Therefore, time travel is impossible.

Comment 4: Your explanations should be a brief sentence or three about why we should think the premise is true.


Premise 1 is true because time travel would be awesome so if someone did it, it would be reasonable to expect them to tell everybody about what they did. But that has not happened. So premise 1 is true.

This procedure is outlined in detail in the Argument Handbook. I hope that it is a bit clearer now. Please respond to this post if you have further questions or concerns.

First Assignment question

I'm not sure why we would cite anything from le Poidevin if we havent had any readings from it yet. Do you want us to do some reading in it and incorporate that into our essay? Also, do you want our essay to contain our entire argument numbered as in modus ponens, modus tollens, etc? Thanks.

Space and Time Poll

Here are the results of our in-class Space and Time Poll:

1. Did time have a beginning? Yes: 5 No: 6 Not Sure: 1
2. Is there space beyond the universe? Yes: 6 No: 7 Not Sure: 1
3. Would time go on if everything else stopped? Yes: 7 No: 6 Not Sure: 1
4. Could space exist with nothing in it? Yes: 11 No: 2 Not Sure: 1
5. Is time travel possible? Yes: 8 No: 4 Not Sure: 2
6. Are there parallel worlds? Yes: 8 No: 3 Not Sure: 3
7. Could time go backwards? Yes: 4 No: 10 Not Sure: 1
8. Is there a fourth dimension of space? Yes: 11 No: 2 Not Sure: 1
9. Are space and time just constructions of our mind? Yes: 4 No: 8 Not Sure: 2

Fortunately, there is a fair amount of apparent disagreement in the responses. I say “apparent” because several of the questions seem unclear; perhaps if we figured out exactly what they are asking we would not disagree as much. (Hopefully we would still disagree a fair amount, however.) A good way to begin blog discussion is to either:

(i) Post a defense of your answer to one or more of the questions,
(ii) Present an argument in numbered premise-conclusion form in support of your answer to one or more of the questions, or
(iii) Post on what, exactly, you take one or more of the questions to be asking. (Some initial questions: What the heck is a parallel world? What, exactly, is meant by ‘dimension’ or ‘universe’? What would it mean for time to have a beginning? Does it mean that there was no time at any instant prior to the instant that time began?!?)

Assignment 1

Due at the beginning of class on Monday, 9/12:

Using the PEE method, present and explain a valid argument for the conclusion you defended in your in-class writing. 'Present' and 'explain' are treated as technical terms, in the sense of the in-class handout and Argument in the College. Present your argument in premise-conclusion form. Keep your explanations as brief as possible. You do not have to evaluate the argument. Practice proper citation (cite Le Poidevin). This assignment should take no less than one and no more than two pages. I suspect that this assignment will be difficult. You are not expected to master PEE-ing arguments on the first attempt. The goal of the assignment is to acquaint you with some of the concepts that we will work with to help us identify and assess arguments. Please comment to this post if you have further questions, comments, or concerns about the assignment.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Welcome to the class blog for CAS 105: Space, Time, and Spacetime: Philosophical Problems of Space and Time.

To create your own post, just click on 'Blogger' in the upper left hand corner, sign in, click on 'Space, Time, and Spacetime', and click on 'Create New Post'. Write something and click 'Publish Post'. Other than coming up with something to say, that's all there is to it. Feel free to comment on this post if you have trouble creating your own post.