Time Zero – A real Place?

“Time Zero – Ctime”

I would like to discuss a few other things about photons and also very high speed particles and their implications for a special point in time.  Some of these are just thought experiments and may have no basis for a new theory, but some of you may find it interesting at least and perhaps there is some promise of truth in them.

Since the photon experiences zero time during flight, it would be nice to know what is actually going on within the photon during the possibly billions of years of its flight. We know that near the speed of light, time slows dramatically and that a spacewoman in a space ship at near light speed would experience time as if it passes normally, but a stationary observer would see things quite differently. A clock on the wall continues to tick off regular seconds to her while her brother on earth gets older at a much faster rate, all the while knowing that her clock is going very slowly and she is staying young as he grows old.

But a photon is going much faster than a space ship ever can. The entire time of flight is reduced to zero so nothing can happen within the photon during flight.  The flight ends as soon as it begins for the photon. Yet we know there is a finite flight time from our observer perspective, sometimes billions of years for flight, as we see the same photon.

An interesting point is that the photon is capable of living forever because it cannot age if time is stopped, and in cloud chamber experiments we can measure the lifetime of some collision reactions only because the time of reaction is slowed for a high-speed particle due to time dilation. Time dilation near or at c is a real thing.

Yet we know that there is a finite and measurable time of flight from there to here from our perspective, and that a photon, if it has a frequency associated with it should vibrate hundreds of times during each foot of travel.  That is, if we believe it is still vibrating and not frozen as well. When it lands we know that its frequency is related to its energy and thus its color.  Does the photon actually experience this vibration, or does it all occur only when it starts and again when it encounters an obstacle that slows it down (such as within a crystal, or passage through water), or when it changes direction such as during a bounce off of a mirror… or does it occur again only at the moment of destruction, or as it melds around a small object?

We know that the emission of a photon is related to the change in energy states of an electron and both the energy and the frequency of the photon are related to that change of state. So the frequency is a physical attribute of the photon. We aren’t certain what exactly is going on since there are the contradictory facts that the clock of a photon does not change during flight, yet significant time elapses externally, and a photon has vibrational modes.  We also know that the phase doesn’t change, so the implication there is that no vibration actually takes place.  Is something else going on?


Here is a new thought. If the time experienced by a photon is zero, where is the photon during the time of its flight? Is there such a time (physicists call it null time) and is it possibly a real place, a relativistic time zero?  Let me call it “ctime” for simplicity, time at speed c.  Ctime would then be where the photon is during flight, a place where time is stopped. Nothing happens, nothing moves, at least not within the photon. The photon moves through space, and doesn’t even vibrate, but the photon experiences nothing because it is embedded in ctime.

Now, suppose all ctimes are the same!  A special point located in relativistic time.    Not the same space-time, but the same time-space, a special place where time is stopped due to relativity, all connected by the null paths.  Photons that have paths that don’t cross would still be in the same place in time – ctime – throughout their flight, but would not ever occupy the same space.  

Photons that have paths that do cross would occupy the same space and same time at the crossing point even if they crossed several decades apart because both would be in ctime and both pass through the same space at some point. The physical times we calculate at the crossing (different) would not be the same as the ctime the photons would experience (same).  Ctime would exist for the photon throughout its existence and even afterward, at least until the null path was disturbed by another photon crossing the same null path.    I say that because the time is frozen and doesn’t change and therefore any point in the null path that is not disturbed remains undisturbed even if the last point of that path is a screen or detector or a piece of rock or someone’s eye.  How can the previous points know if time does not change for those points all stuck in ctime?

Would such photons interfere with each other? In other words, is it possible for a photon that passes through a slit today to actually interfere with another photon that comes through tomorrow?  They would both pass through the same space at the same time in timespace – ctime.  I think it is theoretically possible and thus becomes an alternate way to explain some quantum weirdness effects.  Certainly, it seems more possible than multiple universes.  When does the ctime collapse for a photon? If it is a real place in time, does it even know that the photon has ceased to exist?  For interference to occur in a slit due to ctime, it must continue to exist until at least something physical cuts through the spacetime of the path, such as the placement of a detector or the disturbance of another photon trying to occupy the same space and ctime.  Even then if the detector is removed before the second photon comes through, ctime (at the photon crossing point) is undisturbed unless the detector happens to disturb the point that the photon paths cross, normally some point well past the detector placement.

Let’s go over that again, slowly.  A photon is emitted.  It immediately stops all internal activity and is, in effect in suspended animation until it hits something.  For the photon, the distance of the flight path is shortened to zero and time stops.   Space and time are severely warped.  For the photon, the entire trip from a far galaxy is reduced to zero time and zero distance.  Both space and time are reduced to dots.   Space and time are warped that much.

We can conceive of space being zero distance, a dot, and create a very simple drawing with both ends of the path conjoined at a dot on the paper.  But what about time?   If time is reduced to a dot, where is it?   What I’m suggesting is that the time dot is the same place in time for all photons.  That place in time is what I’m calling ctime.    However, the time-space dot occupies the entire length of the flight path and continues to exist there until each point is later disturbed.   A null path consisting of a continuous line of space-ctime, like a deep valley in time that the photon passes through, warped by its speed.  The valley hangs around in time (ctime) even after the particle ceases to exist at every point in space, because time does not change there.

If the paths of two photons cross, but at different times as we measure it,  then the two photons exist in the same space, but not the same time (as we measure it) – different space-times.  Except… it is my suggestion that they do exist at the same time (for the photons) at the same space-ctime, and never come out of it until that particular space at the crossing point is disturbed.   It would be an alternate explanation for the interference of photons that are emitted one at a time over a period of days or weeks.  

The first photon through a given slot occupies a particular space and is also hung up in ctime.   Its presence in ctime for that space exists even after the photon hits the target.   Each point in the path of the photon experiences the photon in passing as a warp in time.  No information is possible for the past or the future of the photon – and so each point is left with a warped time that is frozen there in ctime.   When another photon happens to cross that same space later, the ctimes are also crossed at that same point and thus the newer photon is shaken by the occurrence just as if it had brushed up against the earlier one.   Interference!   If a slot is closed, then the previous photon ctime paths are disturbed by the closing and no interference occurs when a newer photon comes along later. 

This has implications for high-speed particles with mass as well.  As they approach relativistic speeds, there is time and space distortion for these particles as well.  Electrons and even much heavier particles show diffraction patterns and also show interference patterns even when fired one at a time.  In their cases, the valley of ctime would not be as deep and possibly not persist as long, but space and time are warped just the same.  The interference of one particle with another at a later time may be just the same effect - an existence of a ctime in a not-quite null path left by one particle that disturbs one coming along later.  

An experiment might be constructed such that a paddle sweeps through the entire area where photon interference might occur.  The sweeps to occur between each photon emission.  Such an experiment  might prove this theory if the result is no interference pattern buildup over time when the paddle is used but interference does occur when the paddle is not in use.  I’m suggesting a simple paddle that is wide enough to span the multiple interference points and placed normal to the screen, a paddle that mechanically sweeps through and disturbs the ctimes so that no photon crosses another’s undisturbed ctime.  A paddle next to the slits will not do the trick, so I doubt that this experiment has been done before.  A paddle that only sweeps some of the crossing points would in effect blank out some of the interference pattern and not others.   A real test.

Copyright 2007 by James A. Tabb

Marietta, Ga. 

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8 responses to “Time Zero – A real Place?

  1. You are forgetting about quantum entanglement in which 2 photons are always connected See the experiment at this URL http://www.cebaf.gov/news/internet/1997/spooky.html

    If Time is Null while a Photon is traveling and not interacting with anything, why would the Photon stay parallel to the other Photon no matter the distance? All particles are entangled and could be effected on a Quantum level. We try and think of existence in 3 dimensions or even 4 when someone remembers time in spatial geometry. How do you violate the observer principle to determine the wave state at the point of creation or a billion light years later to see if the frequency has changed since the creation of the photon. To measure it would be to change the state.

    If such a place existed as Null-Time, it would be like a Optical Multiplexer. The beams of light do not interfere with each other because they are using different frequencies. Even in Null-Time, there would be different quantum frequencies based upon time of departure, vector, distance traveled, distance to travel, etc. Each photon would have a unique quantum signature that would prevent them from all occupying the same Null-Time – even if it were a single point in space.

    If Null-Time were a single point in space/time, then it would not take a Billion years for light to travel from another galaxy. The photon would enter Null-Time space and exit immediately, i.e. a Wormhole.

    If Null-Time exists, it would be outside normal space/time which is also an idea that occurs because of Quantum Weirdness. An example would be someone who can see the future. Their perceptions allow them to move outside of the present and see the future. There is also the theory that this is how memory works since the amount of neurons that the brain contains could not store that much information.

    Just one way to look at it, and since it is weird for most, until proven is just another theory.

  2. Hello, Scott: When you say I’m forgetting about quantum entanglement, perhaps you have not read my post on that subject. I did not know about the Jefferson Lab Science News article you linked me to, but the post “Quantum Weirdness – Part 5 – Entangled Particles” explains the effect very nicely.

    From my entangled particles post:
    “entangled particles are entangled at the time of emission and, from the relativistic perspective, they are still attached together at the point of emission until the time that one or the other is disturbed or destroyed, however far that is. Both ends of their flights are stapled together from the moment of their creation by relativistic space distortion. They both live in a go-splat world where time stands still and everything in their path is zero distance away and zero time lapse away due to the relativistic foreshortening of paths and time distortions to zero. In their time and distance collapsed world, if you can wiggle one, the other knows about it because they are both still stuck against their common emission point at one end until destroyed at the other.”

    Note in the above quote where I say they are still attached together at the point of emission, I don’t mean “just entangled” at that point, I mean in the equivalent of physically touching. Since there is zero distance between the creation point and its destination for each particle due to space time warp at c, and since the creation point of the entanglement is the same for both, then they are both still touching at that point even when they are thousands of miles away. Never mind that the creation point may have been destroyed during the photon’s flight (as we measure it) they are still connected from that moment of the entanglement creation. It becomes essentually a virtual point that exists as long as the photon does. Wiggle one, the other feels it. Both photons are touching the virtual point at one end and their respective destinations at the other.

    I don’t understand the reference to staying parallel unless you mean in lock step (not necessarily same path). In the experiment in Geneva, they are traveling along presumably bent fibers in different directions. The effect is the same. The instant they are entangled, (in this case down converted) they are connected together through the distance and time warp of zero distance and zero time until the moment one or the other is disturbed again. Regardless of the distance man measures, the distance between them is zero throughout their flight. So when one “makes a choice” the other, still in intimate contact with it, makes the correct choice also. Every time.

    Regarding your point about measurment disturbance, the photons that are entangled are linked together when created, whether emitted that way or through down conversion. There is no way to measure the state at creation, only the state of one or the other at some later point. Whatever disturbs one automatically disturbs the other because they are in effect still touching each other through that time warped zero distance of the equations.

    To the photon, it is indeed the equivalent of a wormhole, but not in the sense that everyone else defines it. It goes in at the instant it is emitted and exists at the same instant. The photon does not age, nor does any of its internal parts change phase or oscillate. However, we don’t go through that hole. We have to take the long way around. Billions of years pass in that longer path while the photon which takes the short cut does not age even a fraction of a nanosecond.

    You have to remember that we are talking time from two different reference points. The photon warps from here to there in zero time because the distance is zero distance (see the equations in the link below). We see it arriving from across the room at about 1 nanosecond per foot or from across the universe calculated as a billion light years away because we always have to take the long way around. The wormhole, if that is what it is, does not apply to us.

    This idea is also an easy explanation for the tunneling observations. It is my thought (See “Quantum Weirdness – Part 1- Photons in Glass Weirdness“) that whatever a photon encounters in its path has essentually zero thickness due to space distortion, so when it goes through, it can do so in essentually zero time – effectively tunneling through your wormhole. The glass or barrier it encounters has zero thickness because it approaches it at c, or the equivalent of c within the medium of transmission.

    My theory as expressed in these papers fit the eperimental results in every case that I know of regarding quantum weirdness. Every case. There is no weirdness, only common familiar relativistic effects that Einstein knew and loved. What is weird is that no one else has figured it out before me.

    Jim Tabb

  3. Although I am a psychologist, I have been a fan of special/general relativity for some time. The above is the best explanation for some aspects of quantum wierdness that I have heard to date. The other wierd thing about photons is their uncanny ability to carry and transmit information (e.g. orbital angular momentum, the work at the U. of Rochester, etc.). My primary interests are the informational role photons play in biological systems (e.g. F.A. Popp) and people who report that during near death experiences, “everything happens all at once” (i.e. just like photons). I know you might think I’m “way out there”, but I stongly believe that this line of thought/research will eventually explain phenomena that have been considered unexplainable for thousands of years.

  4. Al, I don’t at all think you are “way out there” at all, as you may decide I’m even further out.

    I’ve sent you an email on the near death experience aspect as I have some ideas.


  5. Regarding the paddle experiment, there’s probably a grad student somewhere who reads your blog and has access to the necessary equipment ( hint ).

  6. In your second paragraph you state, “We know that near the speed of light, time slows dramatically and that a spacewoman in a space ship at near light speed would experience time as if it passes normally, but a stationary observer would see things quite differently. A clock on the wall continues to tick off regular seconds to her while her brother on earth gets older at a much faster rate, all the while knowing that her clock is going very slowly and she is staying young as he grows old.” I do not know what effect it may have on your thinking, but I am quite sure that this description of the observation of the spacewoman is not consistent with special relativity.

    There are potential complications that are often overlooked regarding a relativistic “observer,” and the process by which such an observer can acquire the information that comprises an observation. These are circumvented by avoiding the word “sees”, or by considering a relativistic observer to be omnipresent in their own rest frame. In other words, the observer does not suffer from, or at least knows how to make corrections for, the time it takes for them to become aware of an event that occurs at any point and time in their reference frame. Assuming the spacewoman is such an observer, she does not experience herself staying young as her brother grows old at any time while she is travelling with constant velocity. In fact, she observes exactly the opposite; she observes her brother staying younger while she is growing old faster than he is because from her point of view, he is the one who is moving. It is only when she stops travelling with constant velocity and in effect “jumps ship” in order to return to her starting point that her brother becomes older than she is. If she reverses her velocity and returns to her starting point, her brother will have become much older than she is while she is reversing course, and will then once again age more slowly than she does. The net effect is that the brother, who did not undergo the acceleration to reverse course, is truly older than she is when they meet again, but the majority of his aging occurs during the time it takes her to turn around. So even if she thinks she has changed course very quickly, her brother would observe that it takes her a great deal of his time for her to make the turn.

    How is it then that if the spacewoman travels the distance the brother observes her to travel in 20 of his years, when she reads a clock that the brother believes to be synchronized with his own (running slowly compared to her clock), she will read a time that is 20 years after the time they left each other? It is because as a consequence of their relative motion, in addition to each of them observing the other’s clocks to be running slowly, they also observe each other’s clocks to be unsynchronized in very regular ways. Her observation of the clock that is stationary relative to her brother, but located at the point where she will jump ship, is that it is both much closer to her than he observes (length contraction) and reading a time that is far in advance of the time of her brother’s “local” clock. It is so far advanced that even though she observes it to be ticking slowly, when she arrives at its location it will be reading 20 years. From her point of view it is probably better to say that the brother’s distant clock is travelling toward her at high speed, running slowly, but with an advanced setting such that when it arrives at her location it will read 20 years. After she reverses course she observes her brother’s clocks to be unsynchronized in the reverse order from what she observed before. Her observation of her brother’s clocks changes dramatically while she is turning around, except for the clock that is local to her own position during the turn.

    It may seem to be of no great consequence, but I think that a more correct view of your concept of “time zero” may be to look at it from a different perspective. If we allow the photon to have a frame of reference in the same sense that other inertial observers have, there is no need to think in terms of a photon being restricted to “zero time.” (My fuzzy wording here is because I still have reservations about the idea of a photon having a rest frame, but I think there may be a way around that problem.) Rather, we can conceive of the photon being omnipresent in the universe (in the direction of relative motion) at the instant the zero-length universe flashes past it at speed c. The photon will then experience no passage of its own time during the instant in which it spatially coincides with the universe. Some photons that are both born and die within our universe will have zero lifetime, but we can conceive, at least hypothetically, of the existence of photons that experience their own sense of passing time as a flat universe approaches and sweeps by at speed c, or photons that are created from within our universe, then experience it in some way for only an instant, and then go merrily on their way to regions beyond the outer limits of our universe. But in the same sense that the spacewoman and her brother observe unsynchronized clocks, the photon will experience unsynchronized clocks within the universe as it passes by. From this view, the photon does not observe “universe clocks” ticking at all, which is consistent with relativity. To the photon, it is all the clocks in the moving universe that have stopped ticking because of their high-speed motion. The photon just observes all the clocks in each of the zero length layers of the zero length universe reading the different (i.e., unsynchronized to the photon) times that we in the universe observe for each event of the photon arriving at one of our clocks.

    Talk about weird!

    • I took a second look at the couple of sentences of yours that I quoted. Perhaps I misinterpreted what you were saying. I thought you were referring to the spacewomen when you said “all the while knowing that her clock is going very slowly and she is staying young as he grows old.” As I read it again, I think you were referring to him, rather than to her. In that case there is no problem with your statement; he would see her staying young as he grows old.

      Nevertheless, symmetry demands that from her point of view it is her brother who is staying young as she grows old, as long as their relative velocity remains constant. The thing that determines which of them is older in the end is the identity of the one who actually slows down. Velocity is relative. Acceleration is not.

  7. Thank you, OlderDan. By the way, my father was a Dan, so when I first saw your posts, I had a flashback to him.

    I take it that you are an expert mathematician as well as a physics buff. I appreciate your comments.

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