Come with me, if you will, to a state of omnipresence. A god, you are, on an enormous other-worldly sofa, watching the reality show that is planet Earth, and its wonderful, empathic inhabitants (just suspend disbelief and go with it. Cheers).
This is like having a trillion tv channels….. but the main difference? You’re witnessing everything at the same time. The all-at-onceness of the big bang, your own birth and demise, the end of the Earth, with everything and everynothing in between. It’s but one perspective, no matter how impossible it might seem to our finite, fickle minds. And from this particular vista, do you see time whizz by? Do you see it flow as events unfold? Do you bollocks. Because time (and its BFF-slash-identical twin, space) are static. They’re one and the same – and there’s no now. There’s no such thing as the present. That sentence just there? Gone. Time-flow is an illusion, and no matter how you measure or record it, nothing changes. Spring forward and fall back? Nah. STILL nothing. And time doesn’t exist in any case, being the construct that it is.
And here’s the kicker: what’s your Now might not be someone else’s. Cuz Einstein said so, k?
IMAGE: Here’s a pretty little squiggle of Albie’s block universe, an eternalistic box. Pretty, isn’t it?
If this is LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING as you look down upon it, then you can see that from your perspective, it’s all one. It’s static, and sure, it’s seen from an impossible vantage point, but if you roll with it, along with the the closing-off (never mind suspension) of your disbelief comes an OPEN MIND. Honestly – try it. Close your eyes, imagine the hitherto unimaginable.
(Image source: Stolen unashamedly wholesale from Google Images because I couldn’t be arsed making my own.)
The block universe has been said by some to be a bit sucky, because it fails to represent the passage of time – time being one of our most fundamental experiences (even though it isn’t a thing). But who says it’s an irrefutable model of reality anyway? That’s why the word THEORY is just so niiiiice. (Greek – Theoria: contemplation or speculation) And from theories, little baby offshoots are born – theolets, if you will – and like all good thoughts, they grow and grow until they hit puberty and reach A GREAT BIG HAIRY IDEA.
Logic tells us that indeterminate outcomes are governed/caused by (endless) probabilities in the “present.” Quantum objects exist in more than one state until we decide to measure ’em.
Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ll nick something from WIKI here, which pretty much sums it up:
“If the outcome of an event has not been observed, it exists in a state of ‘superposition’, which is something like being in all possible states at once….most quantum physicists now understand that the acts of ‘observation’ and ‘measurement’ must also be defined in quantum terms before the question makes sense. From this point of view, there is no ‘observer effect’, only one vastly entangled quantum system”.
Let’s pretend he’s Schrodinger’s kitty. Think of a considerably more upsetting version of Does-a-Falling-Tree-Make-a-Sound-If-Nobody’s-There-to-Hear-It and you’re halfway there. You could also call this “The Observer Effect” (not to be confused with the Uncertainty Principle) if you can’t be bothered trying to spell Schro… Shcro…
So, yeah. Take a cat. Any cat. Preferably one you don’t want any more. Perhaps even someone else’s mog. Box him up with a vial of poison (because the box alone is presumably not cruel enough) and shove in a radioactive source. Add into the mix an all-singing, all dancing monitor that can detect the decaying state (or not) of a single atom, at which point the vial is shattered, releasing the poison that takes out the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation implies that after a wee while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Although logic would have it (DAMN THAT STUFF!) that kitty can either be alive OR dead, never both, we doom-brains can not observe and impact upon the outcome until it’s possibly too late for puss. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or t’other. When the box is opened, kitty, for all intents and purposes, adopts one or other of his potential forms.
Now, let’s suppose you’re in a car, and even though you’re moving forwards at 80 miles per hour, you’re not wearing a seatbelt (you must be a bit of a deathwishing dick, but whatever). Now, let’s suppose you crash. You twat yourself into that windscreen so hard that you come through and land on the bonnet. In bits. This is because you are travelling at 80 miles per hour as well- and when the vehicle stops, so, my friend, do you. But, depending on the witness and whether they can intervene, you might be indefinably dead and alive at the same time. Not until Schrodinger’s box is opened, or your remains are scraped from the car (or not) does the observer discover the outcome. If there are no witnesses, does the crash still happen? If the observer has intervening potential to change to the outcome, are you a cat in a box?
Why does this stuff give us brain ache? Simple: because we have finite minds. And if we practice, we can surely eventually begin to tease some infinite thought out of those things. Ye cannae change the laws o’physics, but we do have a choice in how we interpret them. It’s a big ask, but if we don’t yet have the answers, there’s nothing stopping us from asking the questions.