Whitley's Journal

Coming Loose in Time

This week's Dreamland (09/05/09) features an interview with a pioneering timeworker, Starfire Tor. The reason is that, as our relationship to time changes, certain people are tuning to it in a different way, Starfire among them.

The reason I know this is simple: while with her and after being with her, Anne and I have actually experienced the kind of time slips that she talks about. In the interview, we both describe some of these timeslips, among them an incident where I read a listing to her in the newspaper six weeks before it actually appeared.

When I read it, it looked completely normal. It was part of the newspaper. But a moment later when I returned to it to get the times the movie it described would be playing, it was not there. I was so confused by this that I went to the internet and discovered that the movie had not yet been finished!

In another incident, I witnessed Starfire and Anne enter a ladies room after a dinner we'd had together. A few moments later Anne came out, and third woman did so at the same time. The problem is that the ladies' room was tiny. There was no third person in it when they entered.

I did not realize this at the time, of course, but Anne did, and she was extremely startled when the person appeared.

It developed that she was an employee and we were able to talk to her about the experience. She had used the ladies' room, but didn't remember seeing anybody in it at all!

So what happened? Starfire can not only explain it, but simply being around her seems to bring such experiences on, as if her knowledge, itself, generates them or causes us to notice them.

There is, in physics, nothing fundamental that says that time should only move forward. And yet, we never see anything except forward-moving time--unless we are sensitized by a timeworker like Starfire, who has trained herself to notice such things, or we notice by chance.

A recently published study suggests a reason for this: the illusion that time is moving only in one direction is caused by amnesia induced by a quantum-mechanical process that erases all traces of temporal anomalies, such as time moving backwards, or shifts across timelines.

Lorenzo Maccone of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that the entropic nature of movement through time may be an illusion. He told the New Scientist, "if you analyze (the laws of quantum dynamics) carefully, you'll see that all the processes where things run backward can happen, but they don't leave any trace of having happened."

Or do they? Scientists would never believe that the mind can detect these anomalies, but I think that it not only can, but that it is in the process of rapid change--in fact, that, over the next few decades, one of the responses to the increasingly desperate situation the human species is going to find itself in, is going to be a fundamental change of mind that will, among other things, alter our relationship to time.

In Macchone's view, while a fallen tree may rise again when time moves backward, we never see this because the information is not retained anywhere in nature. Of course, such an idea assumes that quantum mechanics must operate in large-scale events, while most scientists believe that the indeterminacy implied by these laws unfolds only on the scale of the very, very small.

I suspect that Newtonian mechanics are, essentially, an illusion imposed by the mind, and that the more supple mechanics we observe in the world of the very small also pertain in the large scale.

This is why people like Starfire, who have noticed these anomalies, are infective. What she is doing is shaking an illusion, and the mind reacts by--to some extent only and not in everybody--giving it up.

Where are we in time and space? After meeting her and as a result observing timeslips and time anomalies in my own life that I cannot explain, I am not so sure.

I do think, though, that there is a scientific explanation for what I have observed. But before it becomes clear, scientists must come to terms with the fact that the enigmatic laws of quantum mechanics do not only apply to the world of the very small.

They are the laws of the universe, the only laws. All the rest is illusion, and, as our world collapses around our ears, so will the illusion that time runs only forward, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics actually defines reality.

Dr. Maccone's paper can be found in Physical Review Letters, Vol 103. I apologize to him in advance for even mentioning his name. It is never comfortable to be cited by a heretic, which I am very proud to be.

Starfire Tor can be heard on this week's Dreamland (September 5, 2009.) Her website is StarfireTor.com.

NOTE: This Journal entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.


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