The block universe theory says that time may not actually be passing at all while you read this and that the past, present, and future are all intertwined and exist at the same time, and some scientists believe that this controversial theory may one day be proven true.
As ABC News reports, Dr. Kristie Miller from the University of Sydney’s Center for Time explains that the block universe theory suggests that the universe we live in may actually be a very large block containing “all the things that ever happen at any time and at any place. On this view, the past, present and future all exist — and are equally real.”
With this block holding four dimensions – height, width and length, and a fourth which deals with time, one end of this cube holds the Big Bang, and at the opposite end is the conclusion of the universe.
“The cuboid is filled with every event that ever happens. Where these events are in the cuboid represents their location in space-time. All events, including your birth and death, and this very moment as you read these words, exist somewhere in the block.”
While you may be thinking that you are currently inhabiting “now” as far as time goes, this may not really be the case, and you may actually just be the product of the block of the universe you are in, because according to the block universe theory there isn’t technically any present or “now.”
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To further elaborate on the block universe theory, Dr. Miller notes, “Remember last week when you said to your friend, who was late arriving for coffee, ‘now you’re here’; or when, long ago, Caesar said, ‘I am now crossing the Rubicon’? These claims are both true. That’s because all it means to talk about the present, or now, is to talk about the place in time where you happen to be.”
With all of this in mind, you may be wondering if you could travel in time with this theory. Dr. Miller believes so. After all, if you travel fast enough time dilation will occur, but this assumes a person could travel close to the speed of light, or that they could pass through a wormhole to travel back in time and cut right through space-time.
However, with the block universe theory there is no conceivable way that you could ever change the past. This is because you wouldn’t technically be changing the future even if you did manage to go back in time – you would merely be making the future exactly what it was meant to be by your actions, much like you already do now.
“I’ll act, in the past, in the sorts of ways I act in the present. But I won’t be changing the past. Just as when I eat cornflakes instead of toast tomorrow I am not changing the future, I’m just making the future the way it is, when I travel to the past I don’t change it, I just make it the way it is, and always has been.”
Brad Skow, an associate professor of philosophy at MIT, has written a book about the block universe theory called Objective Becoming, and notes that we may be living in a “temporarily scattered” condition and that events may never really disappear and may continue in different regions of space-time, according to MIT News.
“The block universe theory says you’re spread out in time, something like the way you’re spread out in space. We’re not located at a single time.”
Of course, proving this theory with the technology we have at present is pretty much an impossibility right now, but the block universe theory does give us plenty to ponder as we consider time and what it means to us.