The Spiral Time Notebook is controversial in many ways. For instance, the first postulate states that data stream analytics trumps data stream content in terms of the probability of behavior. Put another way, Mathematics is independent of Matter (developed prior chapter).
This small work (less than 50 pages) also develops the notion that time has both a vertical and horizontal component – 2 dimensions. Conventional wisdom holds that time has only one dimension. This position is, of course, supported by the miraculously precise material sciences. However, daily existence for every life form supports the notion of vertical time. Let’s see how.
Time’s horizontal dimension is linear and uniform. This dimension can be measured by a watch, as it is consistent throughout the universe. All matter flows predictably through horizontal time. Matter’s Regular Equations (40.4 Matter's Regular Equations vs. Life's Reflexive Equations) rely upon the dependable consistency of this dimension of time to accurately model the behavior of molecules et al. The particles of our ordinary Molecular Realm only move through Horizontal Time.
Particles only move one way in Horizontal Time – forwards. As time moves inexorably ahead, our physical body ages. There is a beginning and an end. Because it is simpler, Material Scientists focus exclusively upon Horizontal Time (H Time). Plus this mode of understanding time works really well for Matter, as it participates in only one of time’s dimensions. This regular validation by the inanimate world reinforces the misconception that time only moves horizontally, i.e. no vertical component.
Time’s vertical dimension is cyclical, whether circular or spiral in nature. The info packets of the Living Realm of Attention only move through Vertical Time (V Time). Living Experience, although influenced by the forward march of H Time, only happens in V Time.
Why? Experience requires memory of context. Attention’s image overlay process (IOP) enables this Memory. In turn, Memory is a foundation of both context and value assignment. Matter has no Attention, no image overlay process, hence no memory, context, value or Experience. Matter just reacts, while Life interacts with Information.
Part of this interaction entails moving forward and backward in time – remembering the past and anticipating the future. This ability to remember and anticipate exerts a distinct influence upon the present in terms of decision-making. Further, we only remember and anticipate Experience, which is an exclusive feature of the vertical component of time.
Matter only moves ahead in horizontal time. In contrast, Life moves backward and forward along the vertical time dimension in the Attention Realm1. Attention enables this forward and backward motion through time. Matter’s Molecular Realm has no Attention and so is unable to tap into vertical time. However, Attention can only focus upon one data stream at a time, no multitasking. So while it is possible to move forward and backwards, Attention, like Matter, can only be in one place in the vertical dimension at a time. In fact, Attention, while taking the horizontal component into account, only resides in Time’s vertical component.
Amazingly, the so-called particles/info packets of the Subatomic Realm move all directions in horizontal time simultaneously – future and past. They also move all directions in space simultaneously. In fact, we only experience subatomic effects when their road is blocked in one direction, e.g. oil slicks.
These relationships are shown in the following diagram.
Notice that each of the Three Realms have an entirely different relationship with Time: 1) Molecular Realm: horizontal (mono-directional), 2) Attention Realm: vertical (bi-directional), and 3) Subatomic Realm: multidirectional horizontal only.
Living systems participate in each of the Three Realms. They are part Molecules, part Subatomics, and part Attention. As such, Life participates in each of Time’s Dimensions – Vertical and Horizontal. Under this conception, Matter is a subset of Life, not vice versa. This notion is contrary to conventional wisdom’s unconscious assumptions.
In addition to realms of existence and arenas of focus, the 2D Time construct also enables us to distinguish the appropriate mathematics for Attention and Matter.
The following syllogisms illustrate how the innate nature of time’s two dimensions, i.e. linear and cyclical, determines the potential mathematics for each system, and which mathematical systems can never work.
This first syllogism merely restates the obvious – the relationship that has enabled modern technology.
1. Matter’s horizontal time is continuous – unbroken, uninterrupted and regular.
2. Calculus is the mathematics of continuous functions.
3. Calculus is the mathematics of Matter’s horizontal time.
And the syllogism in equation form:
Matter’s Horizontal Time = Continuous
Calculus = Math of Continuity
Calculus = Math of Matter’s Horizontal Time
The first proposition of the second syllogism concerns the innate nature of time’s ‘controversial’ vertical dimension.
4. Life’s vertical time is cyclical, i.e. a series of events that are repeated – a data stream.
5. The Living Algorithm’s Data Stream Dynamics (DSD) is the mathematics of Data Streams.
6. Therefore DSD could be the mathematics of Attention’s vertical time.
And the syllogism in equation form:
Attention’s Vertical Time = Data Streams
Data Stream Dynamics = Math of Data Streams
DSD = Math of Attention’s Vertical Time
This 3rd syllogism indicates how it is impossible for DSD to characterize/describe/model time’s horizontal dimension.
7. Matter’s horizontal time is continuous (repeat of prop 1).
8. DSD is not the mathematics of continuity.
9. Therefore DSD cannot be the mathematics of horizontal time.
DSD ≠ Math of Continuity
Matter’s Horizontal Time = Continuous
DSD ≠ Math of Matter’s Horizontal Time
This 4th syllogism indicates how it is impossible for Calculus to characterize/describe/model time’s vertical dimension.
10. Attention’s Vertical Time consists of data streams (repeat of prop 4).
11. Calculus is not the mathematics of data streams.
12. Therefore Calculus cannot be the mathematics of Vertical Time.
Attention’s Vertical Time = Data Streams
Calculus ≠ Math of Data Streams
Calculus ≠ Math of Life’s Vertical Time
These syllogism/equations illustrate in succinct fashion why 1) Calculus is the appropriate mathematics for Matter’s continuous horizontal time, and 2) Data Stream Dynamics could be the appropriate mathematics for Attention’s cyclical vertical time. These logical statements also indicate why DSD doesn’t apply to horizontal time and why Calculus doesn’t apply to vertical time. Rather than a limited vision, the compatibility and incompatibility between systems has to do with innate features of the respective systems2.
What is the rationale for Spiral Time?
Prior sections have explored many different aspects of time’s two dimensions. Let us review.
1. Our Information Digestion system generates time’s vertical dimension.
2. Spiral/cyclical (vertical) Time only applies to Living Systems.
3. Lacking an ID system, Material systems only participate in time’s horizontal (linear) dimension.
Spiral time distinguishes the Living Realm of Attention from the Material Realms: 1) Molecular, one direction horizontal, 2) Subatomic, multi-directional horizontal, 3) Attention, bi-directional vertical.
Each of my 4 scientific arenas investigates a different aspect of vertical time: 1) habit formation, 2) quality of inspiration/cognition/awareness, 3) relationship to information digestion and group formation, 4) evolutionary potentials.
It seems that this powerful construct provides incredible explanatory power. However, we have yet to examine why it is necessary to divide time into 2 dimensions (V & H). What is wrong with time as a singular unified dimension? What does it lack in explanatory power? And perhaps more importantly, what is the justification for positing a brand new dimension?
And why is the adjective ‘vertical’ employed to describe time? Why this designation? Just poetic? If not, what is the rationale behind the names? H & V sound mathematical – like the classic grid with Cartesian coordinates (x, y). Is there any mathematics behind the structure of 2D Time?
Finally is all this elaborate system-building regarding 2D Time, 3 Realms of Existence, and an Information Digestion System just castles in the clouds? Cool ideas with no real relationship to reality? Or are these seemingly exotic constructs necessary to better understand the mysterious behavior of living systems? Who knows? Maybe we’ll find out if we keep reading.
Let us start this discussion with traditional clock time – something that we are too familiar with – probably experts in. Matter obeys this type of time that moves inexorably ahead forward at a boringly consistent pace – can’t help himself. No compromise. 15 minutes is the same for every grain of sand on the beach, every cell in our body, indeed every molecule in our Universe (discounting extreme velocities with their relativistic effects). Although occasionally it would be nice to stretch the rigid fabric of time, we rely upon this consistency to provide order.
This inexorable forward motion is why we have deemed this time’s horizontal dimension. A one–way arrow – moving at a constant velocity forever and ever. Amen. This dimension of time is boringly consistent – yet dependable. We can count on it to provide a consistent temporal stability. What’s there to discuss? In our every day ordinary world, Matter moves forward in time at a constant velocity. End of story.
Yes, if Matter is all there is. However an abundance of empirical evidence indicates that Life has an interactive relationship with information – something that Inanimate Matter does not have. According to our Information Digestion Model, living systems interact with ongoing data streams of infinite variety via an image overlay process. The Living Algorithm (LA) is the mathematical realization of this process.
Does the LA have a mathematical feature that distinguishes Life from Matter? On the most fundamental level, it is the setting on D, the LA’s Decay Factor. For inanimate matter, the Decay Factor remains fixed at one, while for living matter, the Decay Factor is greater than one. In equation form:
Matter: D = 1
Life: D > 1
Matter remains in the Instantaneous Now (filled only with instants) – with one infinitesimal (no dimension) increment of time following another in endless succession to reach somewhere from nowhere (a mathematical miracle). Matter has no experience of time because he never moves past Now. He is completely immersed in and dominated by the instant – neither future, nor past, just the ever–present Now. Isness.
Just like every other living creature, our Decay Factor is set to be greater than 1 (D > 1). This slight adjustment in the dials of the original algorithm (LA) enabled time’s vertical dimension and our information digestion system (ID system). This is not trivial. This ID system is crucial to our survival as a unified Being consisting of a diverse conglomerate of an ever-changing group of molecules, e.g. proteins and connective tissue.
For Life and her info digestion system D >1, rather than Matter’s D = 1. What does this mean? Living Systems pile Instants on top of each other to form Conglomerate Instants = Moments. When there are enough of them, these Moments accumulate into Experiences.
Instants -> Moments -> Experiences
This piling up of instants is not opaque like white sheets of paper that cover each other completely (Matter’s situation). Rather the image overlay process is like translucencies piled on each other – where you can see through the top to the layers beneath. Encyclopedia Britannica employed this technique with the human body – perhaps four layers deep – respiratory, digestive, skeletal and reproductive seen together.
The translucency of the images provides living systems (through their ID systems) with a sense of time – vertical time. Meaning, Value, Feeling all require a sense of time to even exist. This layering of images, which suggests the passage of time, simultaneously creates time's vertical dimension. Because Matter’s D= 1, there is no layering of images, hence no vertical time.
When Attention focuses upon enough of these images, it generates an Experience - a Memory – a rearrangement, a re-organization of molecules. Each Experience/Memory is based upon an accumulation of composite images, not one single translucency, like a photograph, but rather composite translucencies, like our EB example.
Experience = Concentration of Composite Images
Composites blend with other composites to form a more complete image of an object, such as food. Part of this ongoing composite image is a link to a particular time slot, for instance the best time of the day to procure food at the watering hole. In such a way, we experience a series of regular images, for instance eating at sunset, that are linked to multiple data streams simultaneously. It seems clear that linking a time zone to a food source would be an effective way of procuring sustenance for survival.
In such a way – layering experience upon experience, vertical time is generated. Piling up suggests upwards, hence vertical. Life via Attention’s IOP (D>1) is able to experience the movement of Matter’s horizontal instants (D=1) through time.
Because these repetitive composite experiences are frequently associated with a particular time slot, we also call this cyclical or spiral time. For instance, fish learn to eat at sunset when the bugs are out due to a regular experience of a daily (cyclical) time slot. Or humans learn to plant and harvest crops at a particular time of the year due to repetitive experiences of an annual cycle.
Returning to our original question: the rationale for a vertical dimension of time is both mathematical and experiential. Only for Life is our Decay Factor greater than 1 (D>1). This condition allows living systems to experience movement etc. via Attention’s image overlay process (IOP).
An integral feature of Life’s ID system, this IOP confers a temporal sense. Our ability to experience the passage of time via the overlay of images is spatial rather than linear. This spatial component requires another dimension to complement Matter’s ordinary, linear, relentless, boring horizontal time. This dimension of time that is unique to Life has been deemed vertical, cyclical or spiral.
The above diagram illustrates a key tenet of our ID Model. Attention is the source of vertical time, data streams and experience. Exceptionally important to our model, the Attention Synergy (the engine of our ID System) differentiates living matter from inanimate matter.
Rather than somehow emerging from Matter, Attention’s imagined reality generates vertical time, experience and data streams. They depend upon Attention for their very existence. Lacking material substance, they are immaterial/imaginary. Despite this virtual existence, they are crucial to our survival as a living system, as we shall see.
Data streams? Their existence seems to be objective – a series of numbers or factoids that are associated with distinct phenomena.
Are we just making a Berkeley-like observation? Do trees really fall in a forest if there is no one there to observe the phenomenon? Similar, but qualitatively different.
In Berkeley’s case, the trees do really fall. Matter does its thing – Big Bang, planetary formation, etc., even though there is no one to experience it – nobody to label the tree as a tree, or the change of position as falling. But the Matter grouped together as a tree really does exist – just as do the outermost stars in our galaxy – even before anyone perceived them and even after there is anyone to perceive them.
However, Experience is dependent upon Attention. Witness the powerful effect of anesthesia upon our ability to feel pain and the traumatic consequences when the anesthesia doesn’t work. The patient witnesses (experiences) the surgeon’s knife slicing through his body to perhaps replace a valve and sometimes suffers psychological consequences from an otherwise routine procedure. Same procedure – same material interactions – totally different results. A long-lasting trauma versus a minor event - and just because Attention is turned on or off. The diametrically opposed results depend upon just one factor– Attention.
Just as Attention is required for Experience, it is also required for vertical time. Unlike Berkeley’s trees, vertical time must be experienced to exist. Attention’s Image Overlay Process (IOP) confers a sense of time. The IOP breaks Matter’s linear, horizontal time into discrete chunks (events) and then stacks them on top of each other. Rather than opaque, the stack is translucent. Rather than Matter’s individual events, living systems experience the composite image, indeed an ongoing series of composite images. This experience of the ongoing series of translucent stacks confers the sense of vertical (cyclical) time.
Without Attention’s IOP, vertical time does not exist. Rather than physically real, this dimension of time is only a temporal experience of Matter’s H Time. As such this V time has only Attention-conferred experiential reality, not physical reality.
Attention’s mental energy is required to generate time’s vertical (spiral) dimension. Without Attention, Spiral Time simply does not exist. Attention sustains, intensifies and nurtures this dimension of time that is unique to living systems. Exclusively material systems do not have Attention. No Attention, no experience, the glue that holds the vertical time dimension together. In effect, Attention imparts existence to an imagined reality that provides the primary motivation for our behavior and enables us to survive and hopefully thrive. In fact, all living systems must engage with spiral time in order to survive. Simply said, Attention [by Attention we mean the Attention Synergy] provides meaning, hence value, hence existence to time’s vertical dimension.
While completely real, Matter has no Attention, no Experience, hence no Vertical Time. While Attention only exists in time’s vertical dimension, Matter only exists in horizontal (linear) time.
Life exists at the intersection of time’s 2 dimensions. Via the miracle of Attention (our ID system), living systems experience both dimensions - spatial time.
We’ve seen how Attention generates Experience and time’s vertical dimension. Where do the data streams arise?
Attention must identify commonality between events to generate even the simplest data stream, e.g. nourishment, sex partner or predator. From all the sensory input, internal and external, Attention must identify DS Content – that which binds the experiences, sensory or otherwise, together as a stream of data. Attention, at whatever level, cellular or multi-organism – individual or collective – must experience the content of the input – food, prey, mating partners – nurturing or toxic environment.
While Attention must experience it, DS Content does have a physical substrate. Proteins embedded in the cellular membrane (IMPs) are designed to match a particular signal (DS Content). When there is a match they change shape, which initiates a response cascade. This on and off of a particular IMP generates a data stream. (See 49.3 IMP provide Substrate). These DSs blend into composite data streams. Moving up the living hierarchy, these composite data streams eventually become an apple.
While IMPs generate DS, they don’t experience it. They merely react (stimulus-response,) with no sense of past, present or future. Attention is required to transform random firings into a meaningful whole – one that will serve the entire organism. Attention’s experiencing/sensing of the data stream provides its existence, not molecules or quantum dynamics. Lacking a sense of time (no IOP), Matter (inanimate or otherwise) does not have this capability to experience something (anything) and so cannot perform this function (generate data streams).
As exhibited, vertical (cyclical) time, experience and data streams all require a sense of time to even exist. This temporal sense is provided by Attention’s image overlay process. Without Attention’s experience of them, these elements don’t have an independent existence. In contrast, material objects, such as Berkeley’s falling trees, have an independent (although non-experienced) existence. All these features that rely upon Attention for their existence are virtual – part of an imagined reality.
Despite its virtual nature, Attention’s imagined realm is essential for survival. Via Attention’s IOP, Life experiences the passage of time that generates time’s vertical dimension, which enables data streams and experiences. All are features of Life’s ID system. This ID system employs these living experiences to generate models (organize) of material reality in order to survive and replicate. Without these models, Life is flying blind – hoping for the best, but unable to successfully navigate a treacherous environment.
While dependent upon Attention for their virtual existence, time’s vertical dimension, data streams and experiences are crucial elements of Life’s ID system. As participants in our engagement with data streams (sensory and otherwise), these imagined elements are essential for living and dying – the exclusive province of cellular Life.
1 Attention, Molecules and Subatomics belong to 3 separate realms of existence: each with their own mathematics, data set and principles. This article develops the notion that each of the 3 realms also has a different relationship with time. In contrast to this exclusivity, Life exists at the intersection of the 3 interacting realms. This theme is developed in more depth in my article: Attention, Molecular & Subatomic: Interacting Realms of Existence? (Notebook #40:3).