When Before Hasn't Happened Yet
(This article assumes that the reader has been keeping up with our continuing description of relativity, and by now has a vague notion as to what tilting spaces across time means. For those who missed these issues, go to the web site chongonation.com, "Chongo's home page" according to most search engines, and click on "Science Articles," to see any that you may have missed.)
The last science article described relativity's tilting, using a train, both stationary and moving, with a young mister Einstein seated in the very center seat of the center rail car of the train. While seated, he found himself thinking about how the laws of physics never changed any more than the measures for calculating the outcome of those laws never changed either, the later being the universal, accepted convention of the day: that for the then laws of physics (in particular, Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism which assigned to light a never-changing value) would work only when the measures were adjusted according to motion with respect to a "stationary" universal set of measures to which moving measures had to be adjusted.
So the world, even the scientific world, believed, until this first-of-its kind day, when a single individual saw the fallacy of this up-until-then-universally-accepted convention, and replaced this notion with a revolutionary idea of enormous insight and profound impact on all scientific thought to follow The existing Newtonian convention of time and space being separate "things" was revealed for the erroneous idea that it is. That is what scientific discovery often does. It exposes commonly or even universally accepted ideas, even well accepted scientific ideas, as being nothing more than pure fallacy, or moreover, convenient simplifications of convenience. But such is usually the outcome when deeper natural truths finally reveal themselves, as was the case on this ordinary yet monumental day, for a very lucky young man.
To come closer to specifying natural truth carries the price of discarding more simple and convenient "missed" truths. Such was the case with the discovery of relativity, it dispelled ideas that people, for the most part, still embrace today, even though a brilliant and lucky young man refuted over as century ago. The truth that his insight revealed was that the common, conventional idea of a universal, all-encompassing, present-moment 'now' existed EXCLUSIVELY in our minds, BUT PHYSICALLY NOWHERE ELSE AT ALL!
Albert Einstein's description for how and why nature's space and time are the same thing and the corresponding explanation of how a "spaces" and time tilt and bend stood in stark contradiction to every one else's in the world's understanding of nature (except for at least one other individual that seemed to see it yet was hardly recognized for the achievement).
Einstein's revelation was (as it still remains being today) 'true' (consistently accurate), while everyone else's understanding was at the time (and for the most part, still remains being) untrue (consistently incorrect, except in our very local world at very low speeds). When, however, we learn 'why' time and space measures vary with respect to motion and gravity (as a consequence of tilting and bending) by reading these and any other genuine science articles (as opposed to those using physical principles to advance metaphysical – e.g. religious – principles), we see nature in a demonstrably and precisely true way, regardless of how much that way contradicts the understanding of nature's truth that so many others around us might mistakenly have.
As a great many thought about Einstein's ideas at the time, many might regard a simultaneous 'now' tilting across time as absurd in the face of what seems to be a universal, all encompassing “now” being reality, when in actuality, it exists only in our minds as folly. But, televisions, orbiting satellites, and many other modern marvels like them make a statement that relativity would flatly not work without Einstein's relativity as a basis for calculation. Its truth implies some even more amazing things, which is the subject of this article. Whether one thing happens before another or after, is based upon motion as well – that is, provided that the two events are not at the same place. For the ordering (i.e. sequence) of events to change, they must be removed in space from one another. To explain this, we must return to the train and the young Mr. Einstein as described in the previous article.
The preceding article used a moving train to demonstrate that, according to the measures of someone standing next to a light flashing at the very moment the center rail car passes, the light strikes the caboose approaching the light of the flash slightly sooner than this light strikes the engine receding from it. This article demonstrated that these two different moments for the observer watching the train were not two different moments for anyone riding on the train, but the same simultaneous moment for anyone sharing the motion of the train by being a passenger on it.
(If the reader missed the last article, then they can go online, to the website http://www.chongonation.com home page and click on 'Science Articles from the Street Press' to read the last edition's science article, entitled "A Lucky Day on the Train". All other science articles are included as well)
So, the last science article demonstrated that, if the speed of light were constant for both observers, the one standing next to the train, stationary, and the other observer (Einstein) 'moving' by riding in the train, what was the same identical moment from one perspective (the passenger's, again, Einstein), were two distinctly different moments according to another perspective (the "stationary" observer's)., standing next to the passing train, 'not moving'. This example further demonstrated that 'who' was actually moving was all a question of perspective, because according to anyone on the train, it was the train that 'seemed' stationary while the surroundings moved past it. But that is exactly what relativity says, that in essence everything in the universe can and does always do both: move and not move at the very same time, which may seem to contradict conventional notions of motion and time. It does, however, make perfect logical sense, because who is to say what is doing what, or put another way, stationary or moving is all a matter of one's perspective as much as when and where are, which is specifically, the subject of this article.
(For accuracy's sake, it should be pointed out that all of the train's motion occurred at a 'constant', that is to say unchanging, speed, in a perfectly straight line with no change whatsoever in the trains direction, which in scientific terms is called, 'uniform' motion. Motion that changes either direction or speed or any combination of the two is referred to scientifically as 'non-uniform' motion. In terms of relativity, the first, uniform motion, is described by the Theory of Special Relativity. The second, non-uniform motion, is described by the Theory of General Relativity. Among the science article at www.chongonation.com web pages, the "Bending Space and Time" article describes general relativity.)
As the preceding article demonstrated using light and the moving train, when something happens can change with motion, placing two events that happen at the same time for one observer happening one event before the next, for another observer What happened first and what happened next were a consequence of the direction of the moving train. For example, for a train moving from left to right, the left-hand event happens before the right-hand one. However, for a train moving in the exact opposite direction, precisely the opposite is true, the left-hand event, instead of happening before as is the case for the train moving from left to right, happens after the right-hand event. In clear terms, what happens first and what happens next can be ordered in what are two completely contradictory ways, based upon direction of motion.
Simply stated, unlike in the organization of our recollections, there is no absolute ordering of events in the universe with respect to time, though there is an absolute ordering of events with respect to each other, even though this ordering can be independent of time. One thing of which it cannot be independent is "cause and effect," for the very reason that the speed of light does not change. If it did, then the relationship between cause and effect could be lost, and our world become meaningless as a consequence.