1 February 2009

The Now

Once Einstein said that the problem of the Now worried him seriously. He explained that the experience of the Now means something special for man, something essentially different from the past and the future, but that this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics. That this experience cannot be grasped by science seemed to him a matter of painful but inevitable resignation. I remarked that all that occurs objectively can be described in physics; and, on the other hand, the peculiarities of mans’ experiences with respect to time, including his different attitude towards past, present and future, can be described and (in principle) explained in psychology.

But Einstein thought that these scientific descriptions cannot satisfy our human needs: that there is something essential about the Now which is just outside the realm of science.
-- Rudolf Carnap, quoted by Lee Smolin in On the reality of time and the evolution of laws (PIRSA:08100049)
Right now we are both alive. Better you and I not think too much about this fact, or we might be overwhelmed and paralyzed by joy.
-- Roberto Unger

[Image: a comb jelly, in vague allusion to the Meduso anthropic principle although, of course, comb jellies and jellyfish are not the same]

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