As has described in The Block Universe, the worldline is the four-dimensional existence of an object, an important concept in modern physics. This image illustrates the worldline of an observer. Each of the flat planes symbolises one moment in time where an observation is made.
As the physical universe is static, the worldline is a permanent static fixture in the world. It comes to life because the viewpoint of consciousness passes up the worldline as Weyl describes. This is what gives rise to the experience of moment after moment, and thus the passage of time as we all experience. The Now of the present moment is constantly passing into the future. The ‘linear dynamics’, the dynamics of the wave function, is enacted.
Then, when an observation is made, something quite different happens. This is the ‘collapse dynamics’. This is the change of the quantum state of the environment, on observation. This happens only with respect to the superworld, as has been described. As the observation is added to the world hologram, it thereby exists in a different version of the world. This is the enactment of ‘quantum time’.
Relativity shows us exactly what time is. It is a dimension, just like the dimensions of space except for a mathematical curiosity (i, the square root of minus one). There is another type of time which is seldom addressed as such. As Deutsch explains, there is second, completely different kind of time to the time of space-time. This is the quantum concept of time, the subject of Chapter 11 of his book The Fabric of Reality (1997). As he describes, this first emerged from the work of Bryce DeWitt on quantum gravity in the 1960s.
This type of time operates in a context ‘outside’ the space-time. It is ‘meta’ to space-time. This operates in ‘Hilbert space’, the space of all possible worlds. As Lockwood states, this is:
… a new dimension running, so to speak, perpendicular to time and space. (1989, 232)
The time dimension of space-time is marked out in moments. Quantum time is marked out in what Deutsch calls ‘snapshots’. Each one describes an entire space-time world, as defined by a specific quantum state.
The universe is static in this description also, just as in relativity. In the many-worlds universe, every possible snapshot simply exists. Nothing happens. As stated by Julian Barbour, an independent physicist who specialises in time:
The quantum universe just is. It is static. (1999, 256)
This is inherent in the physics. As stated by physicist Paul Davies :
… it turns out that the total energy of the universe is constrained to be exactly zero. … This remarkable result, known to physicists for many years, has profound consequences for a quantum description. … No energy means the quantum clock ceases to tick. (1995, 180)
The Cycle of the Standard Formulation
The movement of consciousness is what brings the time of space-time to life. This also brings quantum time to life as the Now passes to a different snapshot.
This image below symbolises a snapshot. This illustrates the worldline of an observer, with the probabilities of the future observations as the blue blobs. Because the wave function spreads out, the possibilities of future events become more and more indeterminate going into the future. This is represented by the blobs becoming more and more and diffuse going up the diagram.
As shown by the white arrows in the image below, the Now of consciousness passes up the worldline, bringing the world to life. The passage of time is experienced. The linear dynamics of quantum mechanics effectively operates.
All this happens within one specific snapshot. Then, when an observation is made, the world hologram changes, and this means it exists in a different snapshot.
This means the Now of consciousness passes to a different snapshot, as shown by the black arrows. The experience of making this observation is the experience of the Now of consciousness passing to a different snapshot.
This is the change of the whole space-time definition. With respect to the moving Now, the quantum state of the environment has changed. The collapse dynamics of quantum mechanics effectively operates.
The Textbook Cycle
In the standard conventional worldview of modern physics, there is no way that either of these dynamics can be enacted. Physical reality is all there is and it does not change. Weyl’s explanation reveals how the linear dynamics comes to be enacted. The Now passes along the worldline. The same principle explains how the collapse dynamics is enacted. The Now passes from snapshot to snapshot. Altogether this explains how the textbook formulation of quantum theory comes to operate. As described in The Measurement Problem, the ‘Von-Neumann Dirac formulation of quantum mechanics’ describes how the two dynamics alternate. As the diagram shows, the zigzag path of the Now of consciousness enacts the cycle of the standard textbook formulation.
The great paradox of quantum theory, the measurement problem, arises because the two dynamics are incompatible. As Barrett describes, no system can obey both the two dynamics simultaneously. The resolution is that there are effectively two different systems.
The linear dynamics is the time evolution of physical reality. This is brought to life as the Now passes into the future along the worldline. The positions and states of the fundamental elements of physical reality change, as defined by the wave function of each ordinary world.
Then, when the next observation is made, the world hologram changes, and thus it exists in a world defined by a different quantum state, a different snapshot. This happens because the world hologram changes, thus it exists in a different class of worlds. In other words, this operates ‘outside’ of physical reality.
The result of quantum time is that the Now passes from the current snapshot to the next. This operates at a different level of logical type because this is change of the class of worlds in the superworld. Thus the collapse dynamics – the change of the quantum state on observation – is a second-logical-type phenomenon.
Steering the World
It is in this process that the effective the steering of the personal world happens. The transition of the Now from one snapshot to the next is where the strange attractors operate. When a different observation is made, the individual winds up in a different snapshot of the world. In the diagram there is only one black arrow shown for each transition. But for each observation there are many possible outcomes, so in reality there should be many arrows radiating out from each snapshot. Technically the arrows are ‘vectors’ in Hilbert space.
Subjectively, each arrow is followed, and each results in a different version of the outcome. And each thus results in a different version of the individual, with a different version of the future. Thus a branching universe arises, as Everett describes. This is illustrated in Everett’s Solution.
When confirmation bias causes you to make a different version of the observation, you follow a different arrow. You wind up in a different snapshot, with a different future. That is how it works.
Experiencing Time Passing
The final question is how does this work? How does consciousness come to pass along the worldline. Why does that happen? What is going on? The answer proposed here arises directly from the nature of the wave function that defines the physical reality.
The effective operation of the linear dynamics is the primary causal principle. The wave function defines how the physical layout of a system changes, going forward into the future. The general understanding is that this occurs naturally as time passes, but time does not pass in the static universe. This is studiously ignored by all but the most adventurous philosophers in the domain of physics.
Here a simple solution is proposed. The experience of the wave function is the experience of this function in operation. So the result is the experience of the system changing, as defined by the linear dynamics. The result is that the viewpoint of consciousness is defined at later and later positions along the worldline. In other words, the Now passes along the worldline, and the passage of time is experienced.
Effectively there is the passage of time, in experience, because the viewpoint is progressively defined as being further and further along the time dimension. That is the process the wave function defines. And thus, subjectively, as this function is experienced functioning, the movie of life runs. The Now passes into the future as Weyl describes.
Then, when the next observation is made, the Now passes to a different snapshot, defined by a different quantum state. This happens because to experience the making of an observation is to experience the transition from one snapshot to the next. Effectively the collapse dynamics operates, and quantum time is enacted.
Altogether, this is the transtemporal mechanism. The consciousness is the ‘motor’. In experience, the system comes to life. The movie of life runs.
The final main section is About.