Time seems to move forwards oh so quickly, more so as you get older – months feel like weeks and days feel like hours. It’s bizarre. Recently, Professor Joan Vaccaro, a Griffith University Associate, put forward her own suggestions on the matter of time and why there is a difference between the past and the future. Her interpretations of the idea of time and her in-depth research and calculations show us how the laws of physics don’t always distinguish between space and time – yet we still don’t experiment on the two in the same way, meaning something must make time different. Her answer to this problem? Quantum phenomena that is completely out of this world.
Some Clever Calculations
Vaccaro explains how some quantum phenomena change behaviour depending on whether they are going back or forth in time, and remembering this is vital to understanding the one-way system of time. It is Vaccaro’s belief that “If you want to know where the universe came from and where it’s going, you need to know about time”.
As mentioned, there is no clear differentiation between time and space. Yet, there are no researchers on this planet that experiment on both of these things in exactly the same way. So, surely this must mean that the pair are rather different.
In her research, Vaccaro goes on to explain that previous experiments on subatomic particles have shown that nature itself does not give both directions of time – the past and the future – the same treatment. Particular subatomic particles, K and B mesons, behave in different manners dependent on the direction of time. Nature, and time, keep pushing us forwards into the future, rather than allowing us to travel backwards.
A Coffee Analogy
Yet whilst we do move forwards, there is always some movement into the other direction – the past. This “jiggling effect” can only be measured using the K and B mesons. Vaccaro used these subatomic particles, and reworking the equations of quantum mechanics was able to discover that time and space behave identically in some scenarios, but definitely not all. Her findings also showed that interestingly, when there is a violation of symmetries allowed, the original equation evolves into one that describes our universe, resulting in the law of conservation mass arising organically from the original theory.
She also goes into an interesting theory regarding a cup of coffee. Let’s say you have left your cup on the table – it’s easy to move around, of course, yet it is still just a cup on the table. There is nothing changing about the cup whatsoever. If, however, that cup begun flickering then everyone would begin to get a little creeped out. We wouldn’t expect this to happen, as it would be against everything we know about the conservation of mass. Yet, if time and space are really connected then this is something that technically could happen.
Vaccaro believes that understanding how time evolution has come about, and how it continues to work, opens up a whole new world of science to explore and creates a new and interesting view on the nature of time itself, which could lead to a greater understanding of some more unusual concepts, such as time travel.