With the discovery of the crucial, though, unexpected link between space and time, Einstein realized that these two things could no longer be thought of as separate things.
They are fused together and form the continuum (manifold) of space-time, viewed as a four-dimensional vector space.
Suddenly, he realized something unbelievable, namely that our understanding of past, present and future and the sharp difference we see between them – may only be an illusion.
“The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion,” he said.
At first, he wasn’t particularly thrilled with the unified spacetime idea and dismissed new four-dimensional geometry proposed by Hermann Minkowski, as “superfluous” pedantry but he eventually accepted the idea and so must we.
As Arthur Schopenhauer expressed, “the most insignificant present has over the most significant past the advantage of reality” and such a belief cannot be so easily dismissed.
Naturally, this illusion – our understanding of past, present and future – is very convincing for us, but it’s still an illusion, we live with every day, every moment, continuously.
Centuries ago, St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the world’s most influential thinkers was also occupied with the phenomenon of time and space.
“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet?” he asked.
“As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”
Essentially the same question we are pondering today.
Most of us are convinced that reality means the events of the present moment.
It’s our fundamental belief since we were children because the only we understand is the reality of the moment.
We divide time into past, present and future and it seems essential to our experience of reality – our reality – as anything, says Paul Davies, a Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Adelaide, Australia.
ut what if our perception of time and space has simply deceived us?
Much of what we thought we knew about our universe-that the past has already happened and the future is yet to be, that space is just an empty void, that our universe is the only universe that exists-just might be wrong, says famous physicist Brian Greene.