"WTF?" by OK Go
November 28, 2009 8:03 AM   Subscribe

“The relativity of simultaneity in modern physics favors the philosophical view known as eternalism or four dimensionalism, in which physical objects are either temporally extended space-time worms, or space-time worm stages, and this view would be favored further by the possibility of time travel.” —from the Wikipedia article on time travel
posted by kipmanley (45 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
What exactly do you call that video effect? I'm fairly certain I've seen it before.

Also, that's not a time travel video. THIS is a time travel video. (Not to say the OK Go vid is bad. It's awesome.)
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:19 AM on November 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


They're using a greenscreen to basically implement the "don't redraw background" effect with video. Places you may have seen it before include the ending animation of Solitaire and using noclip in Doom; it's usually, in computer graphics, not so much an effect as an artifact.
posted by NMcCoy at 8:29 AM on November 28, 2009


I think this bigfoot gif is what I was thinking of. Not nearly as cool, of course.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:39 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


NMcCoy: "They're using a greenscreen to basically implement the "don't redraw background" effect with video."

Pretty much. Each frame becomes the background of the next frame, with feedback (with the greenscreened area transparent, of course).
posted by idiopath at 8:41 AM on November 28, 2009


...this view would be favored further by the possibility of time travel.

Depending on what time travel turns out to work like. If you can change the past, then presumably that would NOT favor the eternalism of four dimensions.

Places you may have seen it before include the ending animation of Solitaire and using noclip in Doom...

Apparently you are too young to remember the trippy Sesame Street videos with the Down's Syndrome kids doing gymnastics. I know OK Go must remember them. (Can't find them on YT, wtf?)
posted by DU at 8:45 AM on November 28, 2009


Also known as "the app has crashed and can't repaint its client area".
posted by Rhomboid at 8:46 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


@mccarty.tim: Oh. Oh wow.

Wasn't trying to illustrate time travel per se as much as those four-dimensional worms. Had I a time machine, or a more fully functional hippocampus, I'd dredge up a quote from that purple old far-future book by I think it was Philip José Farmer which had a critter who could see the past like that, so that the world around it was filled with those multicolored worms. But I don't, so I didn't. Ah, well. (Dark is the Sun, maybe?)
posted by kipmanley at 8:47 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Grant Morrison:
Going back to the start again, I was talking about this entity. It’s not in a Buddhist or mystical way to say we are all one; it’s actually quite literal. You know, as I say, in order for you to be here today, you had to have been 10 years old, right? But you can’t take me to where you were 10 years old. You can’t even point to where you were 10 years old.

PWCW: So you’re not dealing in any metaphor here.

GM: No, I’m not. I’m being empirical. In order to be here, you had to have been 10. Somewhere in time, you’re still 10 years old in order to be here today. And if you take that apart, somewhere in time you’re actually two years old, and somewhere in time that you can’t point to right now, you’re coming out of your mother’s womb. Imagine the beauty of that: back in your mother’s womb, back where you become a cell, and that divides in half into a sperm cell and an egg cell. And then back to your mother and father.

So if you take this whole thing back three million years, there’s only one entity on the planet, right? And we’re all part of it, like a hand has fingers. Except this hand is multifractal; it’s got deer over here and humans over here, and each one does a different thing. Dogs smell the world better, so they work as the sensory organ for smell. Humans think and think in patterns, so we’re that part of the organism that makes patterns. And it winks at itself and identifies itself, all this one thing on the planet...
Robert Heinlein:
Suppose we take you as an example. Your name is Rogers, is it not? Very well, Rogers, you are a space-time event having duration four ways. You are not quite six feet tall, you are about twenty inches wide and perhaps ten inches thick. In time, there stretches behind you more of this space-time event, reaching to, perhaps, 1905, of which we see a cross section here at right angles to the time axis, and as thick as the present. At the far end is a baby, smelling of sour milk and drooling its breakfast on its bib. At the other end lies, perhaps, an old man some place in the 1980s. Imagine this space-time event, which we call Rogers, as a long pink worm, continuous through the years. It stretches past us here in 1939, and the cross section we see appears as a single, discrete body. But that is illusion. There is physical continuity to this pink worm, enduring through the years. As a matter of fact, there is physical continuity in this concept to the entire race, for these pink worms branch off from other pink worms. In this fashion the race is like a vine whose branches intertwine and send out shoots. Only by taking a cross section of the vine would we fall into the error of believing that the shootlets were discrete individuals."
posted by empath at 9:04 AM on November 28, 2009 [19 favorites]


THIS is a time travel video.

Oh man the Slender Man kids on Something Awful need to see that.
posted by empath at 9:08 AM on November 28, 2009


Why limit yourself to a paltry four? This is.. dimensional travel. (Part 1) (Part 2)

Also, this the OP is the most obnoxious four minutes of hamster screaming I've heard all week.
posted by clarknova at 9:14 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The 10 dimension youtube guy is a crank, fwiw.
posted by empath at 9:19 AM on November 28, 2009


The 10 dimension youtube guy is a crank, fwiw.

Really? You think?
posted by clarknova at 9:23 AM on November 28, 2009


trippy Sesame Street videos with the Down's Syndrome kids doing gymnastics

DU has managed to break through into a room in my brain that contained an insane collection of trippy 70's kids TV scenes. The Down's Syndrome kids were the key that opened it up. My mind is blown.

It's the closest thing to time travel I'll have today. Or if today is everyday, and now is all time happening at once, those kids must be tired after thirty some years of doing gymnastics.

Here is the vision of he future: a bunch of kids with Down's syndrome doing gymnastics with bad special effects on a TV show. Forever.
posted by chambers at 9:27 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Similar, but different "datamoshing":
Chairlift - Evidenced Utensil
Kris Moyes: Presets - Are You the One
Paper Rad remix
Paper Rad - The Peace Tape
Takeshi Murata
Venetian Snares - Szamar Madar

I've seen some of these posted here before.
posted by greensweater at 9:32 AM on November 28, 2009


This?
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


empath - Well, and add to that the ship of thesus paradox, and you end up with a very strange view of existence. The particles and even higher-level patterns that makes up the pink worm are constantly changing, and yet the worm itself will continue to assert its persistent identity through time

Maybe that's the point of all this complexity, creating a functioning illusion of identity
posted by crayz at 9:34 AM on November 28, 2009


Sorry, that's not how time travel actually works. Trust me.
posted by Flunkie at 9:39 AM on November 28, 2009


My cat's breath smells like cat food.
posted by Target Practice at 9:54 AM on November 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Many more impressive examples Golan Levin collected in this awesome list of "slit-scan video artworks and research".
posted by Henrik at 9:59 AM on November 28, 2009


Are they using the video equivalent of a delay pedal?

If so, what does it look like through a wah-wah and a big muff?
posted by chillmost at 10:11 AM on November 28, 2009


huh, time displacement (or slit-scan) has some interesting applications... and maybe combine it with THIS somehow!?

oh and making the flat/space-land connexion, we could just be the three-dimensional representation of a four-dimensional(+) god taking a dump! (imagine how the flatlander would interpret the turd breaking the meniscus ;)

we just live on, or are only conscious of, the interface; a long pink worm indeed.
posted by kliuless at 10:11 AM on November 28, 2009


Four-dimensionalism is wackier than you might thing. Everything – from you to a proton to a brick to an acoustic guitar – is spacetime salami. Material objects do not exist in time, but they are composed of entities called temporal parts. The property of Barack Obama's first grey hair is a property intrinsic to his temporal part. So there is only a tiny part of Obama ever around these days. The object 'Obama' is his entire lifespan.

The argument for 4D relies on unrestricted mereological composition, which means there exists an object that is the sum of your nose and the Berlin Wall. They are 'diachronically' fused together. There is also a diachronic fusion of a baryon in the very early universe with my morning bowl of cheerios.

We tend to think things like acoustic guitars, bowls of cheerios, and protons are wholly present at each moment they exist. I think the debate comes down to whether it makes sense to think of objects having properties instrinsic to times. If that does not seem to bother you, for you think being in time is no different than being in space, then four-dimensionalism is not so weird. To persist is just to have temporal extension. If, on the other hand, you think that objects exist in time, but only have extensional presence in space, then four-dimensionalism might not be for you. Compare material objects to events, which have extensional presence in both time and space. There could be 9 temporal parts of a baseball game, one for each inning, or there could be a temporal part that was boring, and another temporal part that was exciting. The 4D view says material objects are just like events, so I could ask, "Where is the baseball game?"; "Where is Bob?"; "When is the baseball game?"; "When is Bob?"

The 'presentist' (the alternative to eternalism) might not like the idea of asking "When is Bob?" All there exists is the present. (Every spacetime point in the universe is its own present.) Presentism captures the thought that the present is unique, and that the past and future are not real in the same way as the present. The past was real; the future will be real. The eternalist sees no special difference.

Four Dimensionalism by Ted Sider
posted by ageispolis at 10:27 AM on November 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


chillmost: "Are they using the video equivalent of a delay pedal?"

Yeah an echo with a short echo and a high feedback and there is not a clearcut analog for the greenscreening - just wildly speculating maybe an fft intersection with the previous signal so that the frequencies that are strong coming in completely overwrite the delay instead of mixing, for those selected frequencies.

chillmost: "If so, what does it look like through a wah-wah and a big muff?"

see the paperrad videos above.

In the analog domain video and audio are much more intermixable than you might think (just need to be careful about attenuating or boosting signals as neccisary) - a square wave shows up as horizontal stripes on the screen, and horizontal stripes, obviously, make a square wave out of a speaker (wider stripes = lower pitch). I did a performance years ago that incorporated a video screen feeding back through an optical sensor (no outside image source), simultaneously amplified, and mixed with feedback through a speaker with no cone fed back electromagnetically through a guitar pickup detached from a guitar - moving the pickup and sensor carefully I was able to get signals that simultaneously looked and sounded interesting.
posted by idiopath at 10:33 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Everything – from you to a proton to a brick to an acoustic guitar – is spacetime salami.

I'm not sure I agree with that. The universe is not continuous; there are discrete parts -- nothing is smaller than the planck length, and no time is shorter than the planck time.
posted by empath at 10:33 AM on November 28, 2009


Salami is also made of discrete parts, on a scale quite a bit higher than the planck unit.
posted by idiopath at 10:47 AM on November 28, 2009


Salami

Maybe you're thinking of bologna baloney.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on November 28, 2009


The universe is not continuous; there are discrete parts -- nothing is smaller than the planck length, and no time is shorter than the planck time

I do not believe this is correct. Discrete spacetime would actually seem to have many strange implications
posted by crayz at 12:08 PM on November 28, 2009


Sorry, that's not how time travel actually works. Trust me.

Do you know more about this than we can possibly imagine?
posted by Talanvor at 12:18 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


there are discrete parts phase transitions?
posted by kliuless at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


there are discrete parts phase transitions?

Cool!
posted by ageispolis at 1:05 PM on November 28, 2009


Dude, don't lure me in here with talk of presentism v eternalism and then give me a music video instead.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:02 PM on November 28, 2009


And while we're here, let's distinguish two related but separate issues:

A question about the nature of time itself - at any given moment, do past and future things/times exist in any sense? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Time is a good source on this and lots of related questions about time. (This is where the jargon terms "eternalism" and "presentism" belong.)

A question about the nature of objects -- consider an object like my desk here and now -- is the whole desk here all at once, or is only a "temporal part" of it here now? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on temporal parts is a good source on this and related questions about objects. (This is where the jargon terms "four-dimensionalism", "endurantism", and "perdurantism" belong.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:28 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm confused. If people are shaped like salami in time, what's salami shaped like? Further, consider that I'm slicing off a piece for snacking every day or so. And what do the time salami worms look like when a guy goes back in time? (Note: I refuse to accept any time travel theory that does not allow me to own a DeLorean with a functioning flux capacitor. I was born in the '80s, and that movie defined me in the same way the Cold War defined previous generations.)

Also, if I'm a viking when I'm asleep, could I form a tesseract so that I'm all viking all the time?
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:00 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, we really need to start a separate thread about Hořava Lifshitz's theory. That is some hot shit. I've been so frustrated by current models clumsily explaining gravity and "dark matter" (which I've always seen as an adjustment necessitated by a huge flaw in the models.)
posted by cbecker333 at 10:19 AM on November 29, 2009


correction, that is some hot Lifshitz*
posted by cbecker333 at 10:20 AM on November 29, 2009


I could very accurately be termed a 'Presentist' though I had never heard the word until a few minutes ago.

To argue against Grant Morrison with his own words: "You know, as I say, in order for you to be here today, you had to have been 10 years old, right? But you can’t take me to where you were 10 years old. You can’t even point to where you were 10 years old."

We really can't point to anything outside of the present; everything we know about the existence of the past comes from our recordings of events that were once present. When we look at a video tape, it is the arrangement of electrons on tape that allows us to glimpse a portion of some past event. When we look into the sky and see stars exploding a billion years ago, we know it from the light that has travelled all those years before meeting our eyes. The explosion is long-since passed by the time we detect it, and we have no way of going back to see it again.

In this sense, there is no empirical evidence that the past exists. I have no reason to believe that the 'I' of two minutes ago continues to exist, or any reason to believe that I am a worm in four-dimensional space-time. Instead, I tend to imagine the universe as a vast collection of particles playing on a three-dimensional surface in a four-dimensional space.

To address a couple of the 'problems' in the Stanfaord article: non-present objects do not need to exist in order to be referred to. I can certainly refer to the Higgs Boson, for example even though it isn't known to exist. One need only look at the extensive banks of literature to see that people are perfectly capable of referring to things that do not exist. Instead, we refer to the idea of Socrates, since Socrates himself no longer exists.

Finally, the Stanford article wonders about the existence of 'truth-makers' for determining the truth or falsity of statements about non-present objects, like dinosaurs. To this, I say that we have only ever said things about dinosaurs because of particular observations of bones found in the ground. No one has ever observed an actual living dinosaur, unless you count alligators or chickens. The truth-maker problem is a problem for exactly the same reason that I am a 'Presentist.' If anyone can actually observe a dinosaur in the year 3 billion BC in order to resolve some philosophical quibble, then I will gladly stop being a presentist.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:02 PM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am hurtling into the future at a rate of one second per second.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 4:57 PM on November 29, 2009


kaibutsu, are you also a solipsist?
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 4:59 PM on November 29, 2009


I take it the solipsism of presentism also coincides with a pure realism.
posted by ageispolis at 8:31 PM on November 29, 2009


What do you mean by "pure realism"? I am pretty sure you don't mean the position that mathematical laws are not metaphysically transcendent, but that is the only meaning I know of for that term (and my google-fu is failing me on finding any other useful reference for that phrase).
posted by idiopath at 9:07 PM on November 29, 2009


To argue against Grant Morrison with his own words:

Keep in mind, you're arguing with a man who had this revealed to him by aliens when he was abducted from a mountain top in Katmandu.
posted by empath at 9:26 PM on November 29, 2009


empath: I actually love Morrison; the Invisibles is amazing.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2009


Gah. Found this thread whilst trying to post the same video.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on December 1, 2009


Parmenides FTW!

I've been on a presocratic philosopher reading kick of late, and it is very amusing to me that almost all of the really thorny, wicked problems we have today were stated 2500 years ago by a bunch of guys that thought Zeus was a cool dude.
posted by imneuromancer at 7:15 AM on December 2, 2009


Parmenides previously :P

we really need to start a separate thread about Hořava

also previously, altho i would like to point out the WSF's panel discussion on Time Since Einstein! (cf. A Conversation on the Existence of Time, viz. time probably exists ;)

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 8:22 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


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