Precognition and Reality Part 2
by Robert Pollack
I'm not sure if it is in the original volume, "The Teachings of Don Juan" or in a later book
of the same series but at some point Don Juan tells Carlos Castaneda that we never get to the present, "we are always one jump behind". This is a short-hand way of saying that our sensory organs are constantly taking in input from our environment, sending this information to the brain through our nervous system, then the brain gives us a picture of our environment, and the amount of time it takes to do this is finite. I gave this a great deal of thought and wondered what if the reason that we can never get to the present is that the present doesn't exist?
The first metaphor I came up with is that of a moving picture. Everyone knows on an intellectual level that there are gaps between the frames that are imperceptible to the viewer. What if the universe is actually a series of still pictures with minute gaps between them that are synchronized with our brains in such a way we can't perceive them? Then I came up with a somewhat better metaphor. Let's say that you had a searchlight and every night you would turn it on and people would stop by and look at your light. Then one day you call Cal Tech or MIT or some other such place and you ask them to send over their best engineer. Then you have him or her make a switch that will turn your light on and off a hundred times a second. (This is a number I pulled "out of my hat". Later on I will explain how to determine the true "flicker rate" of the universe.) So that night people gather around to look at your searchlight. And what do they see? A continuous beam of light. The only people who know that they are really looking at a pulsating beam of light are you and the engineer.
Since the two beams of light look identical to any observer, the question is what difference does it make? Our entire technological civilization is based on our ability to compute certain quantities. Length, area, volume, velocity and acceleration. (I may be incorrect but no matter how abstruse the mathematics it still comes down to finding one of these quantities). We think of all of these quantities as continuous variables. If in fact, I am correct and we live in a pulsating universe that is constantly re-creating itself, then all these variables are discontinuous, phenomenological constructs that do not exist in reality.
Let me give a couple examples.
A) You call a carpenter and ask him to make a shelf for you. He takes out his measuring device (laser pointer, yardstick, etc.) and measures three feet. He finds a board and measures off three feet. He puts up the shelf and it fits perfectly. There is only one problem. At the point in time where the shelf would be exactly three feet long, the universe doesn't exist. So rather than being an exact measure, we have to think of the quantity of three feet as a limit. So the board is infinitely close to three feet in length,
but not exactly three feet long.
B) I am driving down the highway in
my speedometer says I am going eighty miles an hour and the officer who pulls
me over tells me his radar gun clocked me at eighty miles an hour. I patiently explain to him that I could not
have been going eighty miles an hour because at the point where I would have
been going exactly eighty miles an
hour, the universe doesn't exist. In fact I was going at a speed infinitely close to eighty miles but not exactly eighty miles per hour. (Of course if I had really said that I'd probably still be locked up in
rather than writing this from my home in Vermont)
So now the question is, "what difference does it make?" For all practical purposes, none whatsoever. But there are two places that I know of where it does make a difference.
I have read that physicists know that electrons change orbits but have never been able to detect an electron traveling between orbits. This is because they don't travel between orbits. Let's say there is an atom with 20 electrons in three orbits of eight, eight and four electrons. What happens is, is that the atom flickers out of existence. When it flickers back in, it knows that is has twenty electrons but doesn't care which orbit any particular electron happens to occupy. So the amount of time it takes an electron to change orbits is equal to the amount of time it takes the atom to flicker out of, and then back into existence.
The second place where it matters is the "speed" of light. The measured speed of light is 186,000 miles per second squared. If I am correct this is a phenomenological construct, just like any other velocity, and should be thought of as a limit, rather than an absolute value. This means that in reality, the "speed of light" does not exist. It is just another limit. And as we pass through the limit of eighty miles per hour to get to the limit of eighty-five miles per hour, we can pass through this limit to some higher velocity. Thus star travel becomes a technological problem rather than a violation of the laws of physics.
Astronomers are fond of telling us that when we look at the night sky we are seeing light from stars that existed billions of years ago and which may no longer exist. If I am correct, every star we see in the sky exists right now and should a star cease to exist, it would immediately disappear.
Before concluding I would like to say something about space travel. If you were to ask someone the distance from
York to Chicago
they would probably say about 950 miles.
Whether you walk, ride a bicycle, drive or fly the distance would be
about the same. However, there is a way
to go from New York to Chicago
and only travel two hundred miles. You
can get in a rocket, fly straight up one hundred miles. Stop. Wait for the
Earth to rotate underneath you, and when Chicago
is right below, fly straight down one hundred miles. Now it is quite possible that it might take
months or even years before Chicago
is right underneath you. In the meantime
more distant places like Moscow or South
Africa might only take days to get to. I have the strong feeling that if we ever
attain the technology for star travel what we will find is that stars that
appear to be relatively close might be very difficult to get to while stars and
even galaxies that seem impossibly far away, may prove fairly easy to reach.
My final thoughts are these. If I am correct, it would be one of the great ironies of our age that all the "objective" concepts we use to manipulate and modify our environment are phenomenological constructs which exist only in our brains while those "subjective" constructs which we dismiss as existing only in our brains, such as truth,
3justice, and beauty prove to exist in reality, independently of our perceptions of them.