Thank you all for a thought provoking thread
I thought I would chip in to the discussion to add to the confusion
But first I would like to say that the analogy with the flip-book was a very good one. When discussing or thinking of very difficult topics it helps
to reduce the problem to something familiar in order to help the brain grasp a topic for which it may not even have names...
Time is linked to each specific spatial dimension. Or the apparent illusion of one that is. That's why we call it the space-time continuum. By that I
mean that the apparent "quality" of the perceived time is different in different dimensions (spatial ones). Not that it matters very much in our
daily lives, since we (most of us) live in a three-dimensional world, where the fourth dimension is said to be time. I'll clarify this.
It is almost impossible for us to imagine four spatial dimensions and where that fourth direction might be "pointing". But it is possible to observe
the effects of it - and that is actually interesting. In order to understand this I will give an example.
In the spirit of the flip-book earlier in this thread I'll give an analogy.
In stead of a three-dimensional world we'll have a look at a two-dimensional one; "Flat-land"
Lets say we study a shoe-inlay from a left shoe in this world. Whatever way we move it, it will still be for a left foot. We can spin it around it's
middle point, but it will never be anything but fitting a left shoe. Now, if we have access to a "higher" dimension in Flat-land we can lift it off
the flat surface, in to three-dimensional space, flip it over and put it down. Now this left shoe-inlay has become one for a right shoe...
For the Flat-landers it will have looked like it suddenly disappeared from the world and then re-appeared as its mirror image.
In our world the same will look like as if a left shoe disappeared for a moment and then re-appeared a moment later as a right shoe. It's the same
shoe, only it's a "mirror" image of itself. Having been "lifted" to a higher dimension, "flipped" over in 4D-space and put "down" again...I
This is how physicist work to. They observe something happening (like a left shoe turning in to a right shoe) and the only way to explain this is to
introduce an extra dimension and flip it there. We now operate with 10 spatial and one time dimension in trying to describe the universe...
Anyhow, when it comes to time and the illusion of it. Instead of the flip book, imagine an enormous canvas or picture with every conceivable episode
painted on it. One image slightly different than the next, yet interconnected. The images go in all direction. This whole image is in complete
darkness except for the tiny light beam you shine on it. Which is your consciousness. Some "bright" people might be able to take in slightly more at
a time than the next guy. The choices you make while walking along the image will influence the direction of your beam. It can go up or down or
straight ahead. Each instance revealing different parts of the image, yet all possibilities are there. Even the results of the choices you didn't
make. You are only consciously aware of what's lighted up at any given moment.
Now, if you was to "step" back a little from the image (that is moving to a higher dimension) you could point the beam at any location. Including
going "back" in time. However, you can't shine on a spot you have "looked" at before. Unless you already are aware that you have met yourself
from the future. But you can be very close. Just slightly "above" or "below" a point in time you already have experienced. This would be an
"alternative" reality where you was experiencing meeting yourself from the future...
Just remember: this canvas/image is infinite. And so are the possible realities and choices you have. Yet it all exists at the same "time"...
[edit on 1-9-2009 by Koyaanisqatsi]