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Theory of NOW

This theory was written by Jeff Goebel and is posted here with permission. This is a thought  provoking theory that I hope you read and consider.  Check out Jeff’s website!

The Theory of NOW

A great deal of fiction, and even more science has been dedicated to the ideas of time travel. It's a popular fantasy of children and adults everywhere to dream of a time when we can travel either backwards to the past and learn more about the secrets of our history, or ahead to the future to see exactly how all this mess turns out. Time fascinates us all.

At this point, I must declare that I am not a scientist. However, I have discovered a form of time travel that exists already. I present to you, my theory of NOW.

The concept of NOW is time travel in itself. NOW means different things to different people, and the extent of NOW can change. In it's simplest form, my NOW is obviously different from your NOW. I wrote this sentence NOW and you're reading it NOW. Both are NOW, but unless you're looking over my shoulder, time has passed. Perhaps a day, perhaps a year... and yet, it's still very much NOW.

The dictionary definition of NOW fascinates me, because each example use of NOW, actually disagrees with the definition. If the written form of NOW is represented as "preset time when written", then the reader viewing any written form of the word NOW is reading a piece of the past. A NOW long gone. A THEN. ... but that's too confusing, so we socially accept NOW to mean NOW FOR ME, the reader. THEN is past or future, but that's a discussion for another day.

NOW spoken verbally is NOW for all who hear it, but more on our own NOW later.


now ( P ) Pronunciation Key (nou)

  • At the present time: goods now on sale; the now aging dictator.
    At once; immediately: Stop now.
    In the immediate past; very recently: left the room just now.
    At this point in the series of events; then: The ship was now listing to port.
    At times; sometimes: now hot, now cold.
    In these circumstances; as things are: Now we won't be able to stay.

    Used to introduce a command, reproof, or request: Now pay attention.
    Used to indicate a change of subject or to preface a remark: Now, let's get down to work.

    Seeing that; since. Often used with that: Now that spring is here, we can expect milder weather.

    The present time or moment: wouldn't work up to now.

    Of the present time; current: our now governor.
    Slang. Currently fashionable; trendy: the now sound of this new rock band.

    now and again/then

    [Middle English, from Old English n. See nu- in Indo-European Roots.]
    nowness n.

    Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
The deeper understanding of NOW

However, that explanation is the silly one. We obviously understand that the concept of NOW is not really time travel... however, I want to examine a little deeper what NOW means to us... and how that concept of NOW can actually distort our real meaning of time.

Lets define NOW as a concept, to be all that we can see without taking a step or moving our head. If I can see it in my eye's view without moving, it is NOW. Obviously, this idea of NOW moves forward through linear time with us, but NOW is always "present time". As I turn my head, NOW follows me. Technically, things happening outside my view are also NOW, but I won't know about them until the future, at which point it will be a different version of NOW. Even if an event happens behind me NOW, my interpretation of that event will not occur until a future version of NOW. I'll have to turn my head to see it.

To avoid confusion, NOW is always "Present time" and we can refer to things that will happen, as a future now. Ok, maybe that doesn't avoid confusion.

Our immediate NOW could be defined as the space our existence occupies. If I stand 6 feet tall, my NOW is a radius of 6 feet wide. (A typical human's arms' reach is always equal to our height). Anything outside our personal space will require us to move, or to create a new future now.

The smaller we are, the smaller our concept of NOW must be. If my NOW is 6 feet, a shorter man may have a NOW of 5 feet. More things can happen in MY NOW than his NOW. An ant on the other hand, has a NOW of less than an inch. It would take an ant, several minutes to move within my NOW. I can watch the ant walk through my now. It seems very slow. To the ant, he may be running at an incredible pace. To another ant standing still, he may be flying by, because one ant will pass through another ant's NOW in less than a second. Interestingly enough, if we lay our head to the ground, and lessen our perception of our own NOW, the ant seems to move faster.

Now lets expand our NOW beyond our own personal space to our own personal perception. Our NOW is actually greater than what we can reach. Since NOW is just a concept, it actually extends to what we can perceive - or see in the present, without effort or motion. OUR NOW is actually all that we can see (or comprehend) at any given moment. This can include the things we see before us, and to a lesser extent, the things we can HEAR all around us.

This means our NOW can change, depending greatly where we are, and how much we can see (or hear). If we are standing 6 foot tall in a row boat in the middle of the ocean, the horizon on each side of us is 12 miles away. Our NOW is contained within a 24 mile circle. Anything we can see is NOW. If we sit down, we lessen our NOW substantially, and things outside our view become SOON, not NOW. We have to take time to view them. We can still hear things happen outside our viewable range, and those things obviously happen NOW - as we hear them, but we may need to take some time (future now) to more fully comprehend what they were.

So we must conclude, our perception of NOW is changed by distance or size? NOW is time, and we can MODIFY time, simply by increasing distance. The farther up we go, or the larger we get, the bigger NOW gets. As our NOW increases, things inside our NOW become slower.

Lets expand this concept even farther. We can expand our own NOW, simply by traveling up. If the horizon is 24 miles diameter to me at 6 feet, then obviously, it gets bigger as I move upwards. The higher up I go, the bigger my NOW becomes. The bigger my NOW becomes, the slower other things seem.

Have you ever been in an airplane looking down, and the waves on the ocean seem to be almost motionless? Looking at cars on a highway from far above, they seem to move so slowly. By the same token, when we look to the sky, airplanes flying by certainly don't appear to be moving 700mph or faster. In fact, the planes higher up seem to be moving much slower than the smaller planes lower to the ground. These are all our perceptions of NOW. In an aircraft looking down, all that we can see is happening NOW.

From the airplane, we don't have to move to see any of it. Our view of NOW may be 100 miles around. Time has stopped. NOW is huge. I can see more in my NOW than the ant could ever hope to travel in it's lifetime. It won't appear to be moving at all.

Take this idea even farther. From the space shuttle, the entire EARTH is now... or at least one half of earth. It appears still. There is no time between the entire continent of North America and South America. They are both visible at the same NOW. On the ground, a car could drive for weeks at top speeds, but to the Astronaut, the distance doesn't exist. It's ALL NOW. All within one single view in present time.

From the sun, our whole solar system would be one NOW. From a distant galaxy, the milky-way would seem motionless and still... all one big NOW.

I have to go lay down NOW. My brain is tired. As I sleep, my now becomes infinite only within my dreaming brain.


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