The Plane of the Present and the New Transactional Paradigm of Time

Abstract

The plane of the present is a concept that is useful for discussing the various paradigms of time. Here by ‘plane of the present’ we mean the temporal interface that represents the present instant and that forms the boundary between the past and the future. We use the geometrical term ‘plane’ to indicate an extended surface in the space-time continuum, as opposed to a ‘point’ on some time axis. This point/plane dichotomy is intended to raise issues of extension and simultaneity and to examine the degree to which these are meaningful concepts from various physical viewpoints. We will show by example in the present work that the plane of the present is a pivotal concept that offers considerable power in differentiating between various views of the nature of time. The concept of time within the main stream of physics thinking has followed a rather convoluted path over the past three millennia. Anticipating the modern motion picture, Zeno of Elea (c.490-c.430 B.C) questioned whether time should appropriately be viewed as a continuously flowing river, or should more properly be considered as a rapid sequence of stop-motion ‘freeze-frames’, in effect rendering geometrical each instant as a separate infinitesimal point on the line of time. Adopting this view, he asked how physical motion could occur. He argued paradoxically that motion is not possible, since it appears to happen only between the frozen frames of time instants.1 From the viewpoint of Zeno, the plane of the present would be simply the last and most recent in this sequence of freeze-frames. It would be that frozen instant, spanning the universe, which changes progressively as the instant we call ‘now’ becomes the frozen past and future possibility freezes into the ‘now’ of present reality. We note that the plane of the present as a concept does not resolve the arrow paradox that Zeno raised. It only provides a way of thinking about it.

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Citations of this work

The quantum liar experiment in Cramer's transactional interpretation.Ruth E. Kastner - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (2):86-92.

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References found in this work

The transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics.John G. Cramer - 1986 - Reviews of Modern Physics 58 (3):647-687.

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