Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin (YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, Google Scholar) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited (Amazon) and After the Rain: How the West Lost the East (Amazon) as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction. He was Senior Business Correspondent for United Press International (February, 2001 – April, 2003), CEO of Narcissus Publications (April, 1997 – April 2013), Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician (January, 2011 -), a columnist for PopMatters, eBookWeb, Bellaonline, and Central Europe Review, an editor for The Open Directory and Suite101 (Categories: Mental Health and Central East Europe), and a contributor to Middle East Times, a contributing writer to The American Chronicle Media Group, Columnist and Analyst for Nova Makedonija, Fokus, and Kapital, Founding Analyst of The Analyst Network, former president of the Israeli chapter of the Unification Church‘s Professors for World Peace Academy, and served in the Israeli Defense Forces (1979-1982). He has been awarded Israel’s Council of Culture and Art Prize for Maiden Prose (1997), The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies (1976), and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American Embassy in Israel (1978), among other awards. He is Visiting Professor of Psychology, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia (September, 2017 to present), Professor of Finance and Psychology in SIAS-CIAPS (Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies) (April, 2012 to present), a Senior Correspondent for New York Daily Sun (January, 2015 – Present), and Columnist for Allied Newspapers Group (January, 2015 – Present). He lives in Skopje, North Macedonia with his wife, Lidija Rangelovska. Here we talk about the Field Theory of Time, time asymmetry, and chronons.
*Previous interviews listed chronologically after interview.*
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You earned a Ph.D. based on a dissertation entitled “Time Asymmetry Revisited” from California Miramar University (previously “Pacific Western University”). “Revisited” is a recurring term, whether on the physics of time or the psychology of narcissism. So, let’s revisit the early 1980s, what was the inspiration or practical purpose of a doctorate in physics from 1982-83?
Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin: In the 1970s, the second law of thermodynamics has emerged as a major explanation for the Time arrow: entropy inexorably increases and its unidirectional growth determines Time’s exclusive trajectory, from past to future.
This tautology (after all: entropy increases in time!) dominated physics. It provided no insight into the nature of Time or reality (correlation is not causation or any other necessary linkage).
In 1982-3, I met Richard Feynman, the Nobel prize winning genius, in Geneva a few times for long evening reveries in a lakeside shed owned by a common friend (the late Dudley Wright).
One evening, Richard, tired of my diatribes, said: “You are insisting that Time is a nonreducible elementary theoretical entity. If it is so, surely you could derive all of physics from this one single underlying process or thing?”
And this is what I set out to do in my dissertation.
Recently, Eytan Suchard et al. took my work and ran with it and were able to derive every single theory and equation in all fields of physics from my original, way more primitive, thesis.
Jacobsen: Why study time in particular?
Vaknin: Time is the only bridge between physical reality and the human mind. Many scholars – Einstein included – went as far as suggesting that Time is nothing but a mental artefact, a reflection of our inability, as finite creatures, to perceive reality in its totality. Others, starting with Newton, regarded time as ontic.
In my work, Time is the field of all potentials. Only the mind (a sentient intelligence) can witness the becoming of these potentials. This harks back to the observer in some interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.
Jacobsen: What were other research possibilities, in physics, of interest at the time?
Vaknin: I did a lot of work in thermodynamics and quantum physics. But I became disenchanted with the latter as it began to resemble metaphysics.
Jacobsen: Why is time symmetric at one scale of existence and asymmetric at another one?
Vaknin: A directional time does not feature in Newtonian mechanics, in electromagnetic theory, in quantum mechanics, in the equations which describe the world of elementary particles (with the exception of the kaon decay), and in some border astrophysical conditions, where there is time symmetry.
Yet, we perceive the world of the macro as time asymmetric and our cosmology and thermodynamics explicitly incorporate a time arrow, albeit one which is superimposed on the equations and not derived from them. The introduction of stochastic processes has somewhat mitigated this conundrum.
Time is, therefore, an epiphenomenon: it does not characterize the parts – though it emerges as a main property of the whole, as an extensive parameter of macro systems.
Jacobsen: What is the point at which time divides between asymmetric and symmetric, even if artificial and not truly real?
Vaknin: No one knows. The emergence of time in macrosystems is one of the greatest mysteries of science.
Jacobsen: What are chronons?
Vaknin: In my doctoral dissertation (Ph.D. Thesis available from the Library of Congress), I postulate the existence of a particle (chronon). Time is the result of the interaction of chronons, very much as other forces in nature are “transferred” in such interactions.
The Chronon is a time “atom” (actually, an elementary particle, a time “quark”). We can postulate the existence of various time quarks (up, down, colors, etc.) whose properties cancel each other (in pairs, etc.) and thus derive the time arrow (time asymmetry).
My postulated particle (chronon) is not only an ideal clock, but also mediates time itself (same like the relationship between the Higgs boson and mass.) In other words: I propose that what we call “time” is the interaction between chronons in a field. The field is time itself. Chronons exchange a particle and thereby exert a force which we call time. Introducing time as a fifth force gives rise to a quasi-deterministic rendition of quantum theories and links inextricably time to other particle properties, such as mass.
“Events” are perturbations in the Time Field and they are distinct from chronon interactions. Chronon interactions (i.e. particle exchange) in the Time Field generate “time” (small t) and “time asymmetry” as we observe them.
My work is, therefore, a Field Theory of Time. The Universe is observing itself. It is the only privileged observer and frame of reference, which restores intuitive (Einsteinian) determinism to physics.
The idea of atomistic, discrete time has a long pedigree in physics (Descartes, Gassendi, Torricelli, among others). More recently, Boltzmann, Mach, and even Poincare all toyed with the concept. There was a brief flowering of various speculative and not very rigorous, almost metaphysical or numerological models immediately after the introduction of quantum mechanics in the 1920s and 1930s (Palacios, Thomson indirectly, Levi who coined the neologism “chronon”, Pokrowski, Gottfried Beck, Schames, Proca with his “granular” time, Ruark, Flint and Richardson, Glaser and Sitte).
Oddly, luminaries such as Pauli, de Broglie, and especially Schroedinger were drawn into the fray, together with lesser lights like Wataghin, Iwanenko, Ambarzumian, Silberstein, Landau, and Peierls. By now, everyone was talking about minimal durations (somehow derived from or correlated to the mass or some other property of each type of elementary particle), not about time “atoms” or a lattice. This subtle conceptual transition between mutually-contradictory notions caused an almighty and enduring confusion. Is time itself somehow discrete/quantized/atomized – or are our measurements discontinuous?
Ever since the early 1960s and especially during the 1990s, there have been several attempts to build on the work of the likes of H. S. Snyder (Physical Review 71, (1) 1947, 38) to suggest a quantized spacetime or a Quantum Field Theory, Tsung Dao Lee’s work being the most notable attempt. More recent work with relativistic stochastic models led inexorably to discrete time
P. Caldirola postulated the existence of a chronon (1955, 1980): “An elementary interval of time characterizing the variation of the particle’s state under the action of external forces”. He calculated chronons for several types of particles, most notably the electron, both classical and in (nonrelativistic) quantum mechanics.
In 1982-3, I proposed that chronons may be actual particles – more about my work HERE. A decade later, in 1992, Kenneth J. Hsu suggested the very same thing (though without reference to my work). He postulated sequencing cues delivered to particles by captured chronons. Like me, he hypothesized the existence of various types of chronons (“large” and small). Chronons, wrote Hsu are also involved in the catalysis of events. Finally, like me, Hsu also posited a field theory for the flow of chronons. In 1994, C. Wolf again suggested the existence of time atoms (Nuov. Cim. B 109 (3) 1994 213).
In 1993, Arthur Charlesby suggested that particles have an intrinsic discrete time property and that time (interval in the presence of relative motion) has a “quantized nature”. This dispenses with the need for a wave concept as a mere mathematical expedient in the case of individual events (though still useful in contemplating continuous relative motion). This notion of “proprietary” or “individual” system-specific time as distinct from a “systemic”, overall Time was further explored by Alexander R. Karimov in 2008.
In the same year (1993), Sidney Golden published a paper in which he claimed that “quantum time-lapses are … an essential feature of the changes undergone by the energy-eigenfunction-evaluated matrix elements of statistical operators that evolve in accordance with an intrinsic temporal discreteness characteristic of strictly irreversible behavior.”
A year later, in 1994, A. P. Balachandran and L. Chandar studied the quantized of time in discretized gravity models with multiple-valued Hamiltonians. Ruy H. A. Farias and Erasmo Recami (2010) applied a quantum of time to obtain startlingly impressive consequences regarding the treatment of electrons (and, more generally, leptons), the free particle, the harmonic oscillator, and the hydrogen atom in both classical and quantum physics, in effect proffering a discretized and surprisingly powerful and useful quantum mechanics. Strangely, their work had very little resonance.
Quantized time has been used to suggest solutions to a panoply of riddles in physics, including the K-meson decay, the Klein-Gordon equation, and the application of Kerr-Newman black holes to electron theory, q-deformations and stochastic subordination (“quantum subordination”), among others (R. Hakim, Journal of Mathematical Physics 9 1968, 1805; B. G. Sidharth, 2000, Alexander R. Karimov,2008; Claudio Albanese and Stephan Lawi).
Jacobsen: With the interactions between the chronons in a field creating perturbations for the creation of the idea of the Time Field, the argument implies the 4-dimensionality of space as space-time comes from the perturbations in the Time Field based on the interactions of the chronons in the field exerting a force. So, in a sense, chronons’ interactions in the Time Field produce the temporal dimension, where without the chronons’ interactions in the Time Field; time would not pass because time would not exist in the first place. What is the apparent time asymmetry in this context?
Vaknin: Timespace can be regarded as a wave function with observer-mediated collapse. All the chronons are entangled at the exact “moment” of the Big Bang. This yields a relativistic QFT with chronons as its Field Quanta (excited states.) The integration is achieved via the quantum superpositions.
Another way to look at it is that the metric expansion of time is implied if time is a fourth dimension of space.Time may even be described as a PHONON of the metric itself.
A more productive approach may involve Perturbative QFT. Time from the Big Bang is mediated by chronons and this leads to expansion (including in the number of chronons.) In this case, there are no bound states.
Chronons as excitation states (stochastic perturbations, vibrations) tie in nicely with superstring theories, but without the baggage of extra dimensions and without the metaphysical nonsense of “music of the spheres”. Perturbations also yield General Relativity: cumulative, “emerging” perturbations amount to a distortion (curvature) of time-space. Both superstring theories and GRT are, therefore, private cases of a Chronon Field Theory.
Jacobsen: Have there been other advancements on these ideas since 1983?
Vaknin: Eytan H. Suchard’s Work
Interacting particles with non-gravitational fields can be seen as clocks whose trajectory is not Minkowsky geodesic.
A field in which a small enough clock is not geodesic can be described by a scalar field of time whose gradient has non-zero curvature. The scalar field is either real which describes acceleration of neutral clocks made of charged matter or imaginary, which describes acceleration of clocks made of Majorana type matter.
This way the scalar field adds information to space-time, which is not anticipated by the metric tensor alone. The scalar field can’t be realized as a coordinate because it can be measured from a reference sub-manifold along different curves.
In a “Big Bang” manifold, the field is simply an upper limit on measurable time by interacting clocks, backwards from each event to the big bang singularity as a limit only.
In De Sitter / Anti De Sitter space-time, reference sub-manifolds from which such time is measured along integral curves are described as all the events in which the scalar field is zero. The solution need not be unique but the representation of the acceleration field by an anti-symmetric matrix is unique up to SU(2) x U(1) degrees of freedom.
Matter in Einstein-Grossmann equation is replaced by the action of the acceleration field, i.e. by a geometric action which is not anticipated by the metric alone. This idea leads to a new formalism of matter that replaces the conventional stress-energy-momentum-tensor. The formalism will be mainly developed for classical but also for quantum physics. The result is that a positive charge manifests small attracting gravity and a stronger but small repelling acceleration field that repels even uncharged particles that measure proper time, i.e. have rest mass.
The negative charge manifests a repelling anti-gravity but also a stronger acceleration field that attracts even uncharged particles that measure proper time, i.e. have rest mass.
The theory leads to causal sets. Spacetime exists only where a chronon wave-function collapses. Work still to be done is to replace particles by strings of collapse events. The theory in its quantum form is of events and not of particles.
The theory has technological repercussions and implications regarding “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”.
Jacobsen: Have there been any experimental results supporting the theoretical framework, even the basic claim of the existence of chronons?
Vaknin: None. The theoretical framework emerged less than 5 years ago. But there are some technological implications and even an application for a patent in the USA ( https://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/.aiw?PageNum=0&docid=20200130870&IDKey=58760C759BBB )
Jacobsen: As a Field Theory of Time, as the field itself is time or events in spacetime equate to perturbations in this field of time, if true, what does this leave – a la Feynman – for future paths of the development of time asymmetry, chronons, temporal field theoretic considerations, and integrations of the Field Theory of Time into a GUT (Grand Unified Theory) and a ToE (Theory of Everything, which you consider inevitable or have “no doubt” about its arrival – eventually)?
Vaknin: Chronon Field Theory is a GUT/TOE. It is parsimonious (Time is the only entity and also the only principle of action). Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AEEwYcWUuc
Every potential in the field, once observed (“collapsed”), is an aspect of physics: mass, momentum, force, particles, symmetry, energy, field coefficients, fine structure constant, gravity, etc.
The theory predicts new particles (for example between muons and bottom quarks); a new, fifth force of nature; a natural connection between electromagnetism and gravity; and many other goodies which can be leveraged into futuristic technologies.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Prof. Vaknin.
Vaknin: Much appreciated.
Previous Electronic ‘Print’ Interviews (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)
(In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal: June 22, 2020)
(News Intervention: June 23, 2020)
(News Intervention: January 26, 2022)
(News Intervention: January 28, 2022)
(News Intervention: January 30, 2022)
(News Intervention: February 2, 2022)
(News Intervention: February 11, 2022)
(News Intervention: April 30, 2022)
(News Intervention: May 21, 2022)
(News Intervention: May 24, 2022)
(News Intervention: May 26, 2022)
Previous Interviews Read by Prof. Vaknin (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 26, 2022)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 29, 2022)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 31, 2022)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: February 3, 2022)
Prof. Sam Vaknin: May 25, 2022)
Image Credit: Sam Vaknin.