Everything that is happening has already happened. Everything that has already happened will happen again. Time is an infinite loop, reaching back around and meeting itself forever. It’s just hard to see from our perspective. Let me explain.
The problem is higher dimensions, and our ability to perceive them. Imagine you are an early human, who thinks the world is flat. It looks pretty flat from down here, so why not? You are the adventurous sort, so you decide to walk in a straight line until you reach the edge of the world. You walk in a straight line, in one direction the whole time, and somehow end up back where you started. Like this:
How did this happen? How can you walk in one direction and end up back in the same place? Well, that’s because in reality, you did not only travel in one dimension. While the surface of the earth seems like a flat two-dimensional surface, in reality it’s a two-dimensional surface stretched over a larger three-dimensional object (the earth). You can travel in one direction along the two-dimensional surface, whilst unknowingly travelling in a hidden third-dimension the whole time!
Now, the exact same theory applies when we take it up a dimension. It seems like we live in a three-dimensional universe, but this is thinking as outdated as early humans believing they lived on a flat two-dimensional earth. In reality they merely lived in the two-dimensional surface of a three-dimensional sphere. Our universe is, in fact, only the three-dimensional surface of a larger four-dimensional shape called a torus, which looks something like this:
As the diagram above demonstrated, you could walk in a straight line on the 2D surface of 3D earth and end up back in the same place without ever passing through the same point twice. Similarly, if you flew a spaceship away from earth in a straight line, you would eventually curve around and end up back at earth where you started. This means you can never really reach the ‘end’ of the universe. The fact the universe is expanding makes no difference, imagine you are an ant crawling around the 2D surface of a 3D balloon which is expanding as someone blows air into it. It will take you longer to walk around the balloon each time, but you can never reach an ‘end’. It’s round, you’ll always end up back where you started!
It’s a little hard to get your head around this fourth dimensional stuff, but that’s because we have no way to picture it. Think about trying to describe what a postbox looks like to someone who had never seen one. You could say: It’s red, shiny, official looking. Now imagine trying to describe one to someone born blind. They don’t know what red, or shiny, or official looking even means! They have no point of reference. We have no point of reference to even begin to imagine what the fourth dimension looks like, because we have only ever seen three dimensional things with our three dimensional eyes.
Anyway, what does any of this have to do with time? Well in 1905 a mathematician called Hermann Minkowski was reading a new and interesting looking paper called the Theory of Special Relativity by an upstart physicist called Einstein. He had been messing about with the mathematics of four dimensions, restating Maxwell’s equations governing electromagnetism in four dimensions. Then he tried restating Einstein’s equations governing relativity of mass and time in four dimensions. He realised that when viewed in this higher dimensional context, time and space behaved in pretty much the same way as each other. Whereas previously they had been treated separately, physicists were forced to rethink everything into a unified four-dimensional space-time continuum.
As Minkowski said in 1908:
“The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”
This pretty much blew everyone’s minds back then.
At the ‘beginning’ of the universe, everything was crushed down into one tiny point. It was zero centimetres long, zero centimetres high, zero centimetres deep, zero seconds old, zero of any measurement in any dimension. Then we had the Big Bang. The universe began to shoot off in every direction in space, but also in time (or as we now know, it’s really just every direction in space-time because it’s all the same thing). This is what we see as the ‘start’ of the universe. Things are still expanding, shooting out from this one point. But as can now view things from a higher dimensional context are they are not really going in one direction? They are moving in straight lines from our three-dimensional perspective but are really going to end up where they started once they’ve looped round the larger four-dimensional torus the 3D universe surface is stretched over.
The day will come when things start to move closer together again. As the initial energy with which everything exploded outwards dissipates, gravity (which itself is really a complicated side effect of four dimensions, but I’ll go into this another post because this is getting long enough already) which is pulling everything together all the time, will reach a tipping point when its pull is stronger and will begin to pull everything back towards a single point. Things will have reached their furthest point from where they originally started along the other side of the 4D torus and begin to move back in together again.
It is same with time. It seems to us like a straight line, but it is also travelling along a higher-dimensional curved shape. It will begin to loop back on itself and eventually join back together, even though it looked to us like it was going in one direction the whole time. Eventually, all time and space will meet back up in a single point and will be ready to start all over again. Or course, this is not for billions of years so we will all be long dead but do not worry, because we will only be dead until time cycles back around and we are alive again.
The universe has no beginning and no end. No start point and no end point. No creator and no destroyer. No Garden of Eden and no Revelations. Time is infinite. Time is a cycle. Time is a loop. Time is a flat circle.