Are we all time-travellers?

All of us live at least 80 milliseconds in the past, slightly longer than the blink of an eye. If we see any moving object in the world, by the time the light from that object hits the retina of our eye and gets processed in the brain, the object has already moved on. So our brain has to do a lot of ‘catching-up’ to the future, to reach the exact present and feel the ‘now’ moment. Since all of us are already living in the past does that mean we are time travelling already?

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Our conscious perception of the ‘now’ time is based only on prediction of the future, even if it is just by a moment that we are lagging behind. M.S.Dhoni is known to be a fast wicket keeper and his fans will proudly say that his stumping is at the speed of light! For him to perform outstandingly he has to sight the ball being thrown to him, catch it and then hit it at the stumps. If we see a replay of this in slow motion, when he sees the ball, he knows that the ball will reach him in two seconds. But he is already prepared to catch it well within that time; he raises his gloves in the direction, catches the ball and hits the stumps without wasting a moment. Dhoni makes a predictive hypothesis of the ball’s ‘now’ moment in a fraction of a second, in what is our present time, but actually is the past.

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We see people around us using the Latin phrase ‘Carpe diem!’ which encourages people to ‘seize the moment’. It is used to urge someone to make the most of the present time and give little thought to the future. But when we only live in the past, and to live ‘now’ makes it necessary to catch up to the future, which is contrary to the phrase by itself, and now does this phrase, in its literal sense seem pointless? Or does it actually mean the fact that, why do we have to spend every moment that we have, only to catch up to the future? If it’s the latter, then the Latin grandpas sure did know what they were talking about.

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When we see stars in the sky tonight, right now in space the stars might not even be present; there is a high chance that the hot ball of fire would be extinct. The light from the star took thousands of years to reach our eyes and so here we lag by thousands of years. If I look through the Hubble telescope, I might observe dinosaurs on a planet in the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. But right now, the dinosaurs on that planet might have become extinct and for all we know, two-headed homo-sapiens might be living there. Since the light from the planet took millions of years to reach us, here we live in the past by a million years. The lag in the latter case is greater and so the ‘past’ is pushed backed significantly. Past is relative here. For those two-headed homosapiens, WE would be the time-travellers. When all of us are living in the past already, there is a possibility of travelling even further in the past, thus making it possible for backward time travel.

So next time when someone tells you, ‘Forget the past and move on!’ start with ‘Don’t we all live in the past technically?’.. and tell them more about time-travel. They started it by giving you free advice…they had it coming!

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