Time’s arrow and our weird universe

Our universe, and the nature of time, may be much stranger than we ever could have imagined.

Think about this. What is time? It is something that can be measured.Seconds, minutes, hours, years, millennia. But unlike other properties of our physical world, it only goes in one direction. You can’t add or subtract time, not literally. This has left scientists stumped.

Now, scientists have come up with one of the more bizarre theories of the universe and time that I’ve ever heard. To explain the back and forth movement of time, our universe might be just one side of another universe that was formed during the big bang. And since we exist on the opposite side of that universe, we are living in that mirror universe’s distant past.

This all comes courtesy of an article in Scientific American (by Lee Billings, who I work with there, btw). Much of it is over my head, to be honest, and I’m probably not summarizing it correctly. But what intrigues me most is the whole issue of time as a physical property. I always assumed that time flows, consistently, constantly, in one direction. But scientists can’t explain this. I never realized it was an issue.

After reading the article, I didn’t come away with the impression that we’re going to build some sort of time machine. or maybe visit this parallel universe (thought that would really be cool from a sci-fi perspective). What the article shows me is that there’s so much that we don’t know — about the universe, about life, about even ourselves.

Some might be scared by this lack of certainty. I think it’s exhilarating.

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