Moving through time

January 21, 2010

Although we can't technically travel through time (yet), when we think of the past or the future we engage in a sort of mental time travel. This uniquely human ability to psychologically travel through time arguably sets us apart from other species. Researchers have recently looked at how mental time travel is represented in the sensorimotor systems that regulate human movement. It turns out our perceptions of space and time are tightly coupled.

University of Aberdeen psychological scientists Lynden Miles, Louise Nind and Neil Macrae conducted a study to measure this in the lab. They fitted participants with a while they imagined either future or past events. The researchers found that thinking about past or future events can literally move us: Engaging in mental time travel (a.k.a. chronesthesia) resulted in physical movements corresponding to the metaphorical direction of time. Those who thought of the past swayed backward while those who thought of the future moved forward.

These findings reported online in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for , suggest that chronesthesia may be grounded in processes that link spatial and temporal metaphors (e.g., future= forward, past= backward) to our systems of and action. "The embodiment of time and space yields an overt behavioral marker of an otherwise invisible mental operation," explains Miles and colleagues.

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frajo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
This uniquely human ability to psychologically travel through time arguably sets us apart from other species
How do we know?
When an animal is using a tool to get food, isn't it anticipating events of the future?
DillingerEscp
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
This uniquely human ability to psychologically travel through time arguably sets us apart from other species
How do we know?
When an animal is using a tool to get food, isn't it anticipating events of the future?


I feel the same. When a bee flies towards a flower, does it not know, if even just a few seconds beforehand, what it is about to do?
Paradox
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
How do we know?

I also agree. It is just human arrogance to assume that animals can't remember the past or anticipate the future.
A dog knows that it is supposed to "go" outside, else it will get punished. Isn't that remembering past punishment?
fourthrocker
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
Yet? First off we all are time travelers now. Second no one will ever be able to time travel in the classic sci-fi sense. The past does not exist anymore, no one will ever travel to the past. Travel into the future is possible, not surprising since that is what each of us already does. The catch is that you will have to physically exist throughout every intervening moment as we already do to get to the future. The only way to travel to the future beyond what we already do is to slow down the passage of time so the physical body can live long enough to reach a future that it normally would not have. In other words no one will EVER disappear like in Star Trek and appear in a different time, it's impossible because they did not exist in the intervening moments. You can't just go into non-existence and exist again, impossible.
fourthrocker
1 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2010
Time only exists for life because we have memory. ALL life has memory of sorts, even bacteria. Time is meaningless without memory.

The truth is there is only Now, no past, no future, ergo Now is simultaneous throughout the universe.
jimbo92107
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
I can use a compass and a straight edge to triple an arbitrary angle. However, it is mathematically impossible to trisect an arbitrary angle with those tools.

However, if time could flow backwards, would I not be using those two simple tools to trisect an arbitrary angle? Not to mention un-scrambling my omelet... ;-)
Thrasymachus
not rated yet Jan 22, 2010
Perceived time does not just exist because of memory, but because of the conscious awareness of it as a memory. Animals are not thought to "time travel" with their minds because they are not thought to have minds, or at least minds anything like human minds.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 22, 2010
Now is simultaneous throughout the universe.
Could you define the meaning of "simultaneous"? How do you find out whether two events which are spatially separated are occurring simultaneously?
danman5000
not rated yet Jan 22, 2010
Now is simultaneous throughout the universe.
Could you define the meaning of "simultaneous"? How do you find out whether two events which are spatially separated are occurring simultaneously?

Yeah, and relativity introduces a lot of complications regarding simultaneity too.

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