DOI: 10.14704/nq.2018.16.9.1685

Falsification Experiments for Spacetime Theories from the Neurological Sciences

Ronald Gruber, Ryan Smith, Richard Block


One difficulty with spacetime theories is the absence of falsifications tests. Because the observer is part of quantum mechanics (QM) and therefore an obligatory part of cosmological theories that incorporate QM, the neurological sciences have a legitimate role. We examined six different QM based cosmological theories. They make implications about various aspects of the flow of time (FOT)--the past/present/future experience including subjective dynamism). First, a distinction is made between the FOT and the physical passage of time (POT), the occurrence of a new physical event at the periphery of an expanding universe. Four theories suggesting a real POT are the Evolving Block Universe, the Spacetime Dynamics Theory, Causal Set Cosmology; and Muller’s cosmology. However, they retain the past/present components of the Block Universe and imply that the upper level FOT (the experience that the ‘present’ is unique) is illusory. A falsification experiment is proposed utilizing Hartle’s proposed Information and Gathering and Utilizing Systems (IGUSs), which have different experiences of the ‘present’. A virtual reality IGUS which can experientially navigate between past and present is suggested. It could confirm their implication that the experience of past/present events is not unique (i.e., it is a variable cognition). Barbour’s timeless theory involves relative configuration spaces which contain enough information to provide an illusory dynamic scene. That experience of dynamism within that scene is said to be an illusion. A second falsification experiment is proposed to remove dynamism suggesting it is an irrelevant experience. It involves intermittent stimulation of the newly discovered consciousness center (the claustrum) to create brief intervals of unconsciousness. Doing this precludes the recently discovered ‘happening’ percept which can account for the entirely of dynamism (the lower level FOT). The negative implication for Temporal Naturalism in the Cosmological Natural Selection theory is briefly discussed.


Falsification Tests; Evolving Block Universe; Temporal Naturalism; Flow of Time; Passage of Time.

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Supporting Agencies

We are grateful to James Hartle, Roger Shepard, Michael Bach, David Karp, Harry Foundalis and Julian Barbour for their input into either the theory or experimentation of this project.

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