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Space has three dimensions, and time was layered on as a fourth
dimension by mathematicians and physicists in the early 20th century.  Forms in the spacial dimensions change,
and that is what constitutes our idea of time.

Each spatial dimension has forms: in the first dimension, a form
can only be a line that changes in length.  In the second, there are flat forms such as a square.  Three-dimensional forms like tables are
what we are used to in reality. If time is defined as the fourth dimension, how
does the concept of form apply to it?

When the time dimension is included, a three dimensional form
will change in some way.  The apple
falling from the tree includes the time dimension.  This total picture can be seen as a four-dimensional
form.  Three spatial dimensions of
the apple, plus a fourth dimension of time through which the movement of the
apple occurs.

The three-dimensional apple form can still be identified,
independently of its movement in time.
The fourth dimensional form could also be isolated out from the
event.  It would simply be a duration.  Translated into visual terms, it would
be a one-dimensional form: a line extending from a point to another point.  This would represent the temporal form of
the apple falling from the tree.

A progress bar, used in computer interfaces, is exactly
this.  It is employed to give the
user of the computer a sense of the time that will be required for a software
process, such as installing a program, to complete.  This bar is required because the software process takes place
behind the scenes and cannot be perceived by the senses.  The progress bar maps a time form to a
space form, so we can perceive it.

With any physical process, there is a time form that is independent
of the space form.  But to what
extent does it correspond to our concepts of form?  A simple linear duration, a movement from A to B, is only
one way that form exists in time.
As with forms in space, time forms are distributed in nature according to
ratios.  And as with space forms,
forms in time can be perceived by humans and animals.

Temporal Ratio in Nature

Nature is based on organized spatial forms.  Some of the more striking examples of
spatial organization are the regularity and symmetry of crystals, or the
spiraling of sea shells.  But
nature at all levels is organized; from the atomic, to the biological and the
cosmic level.

This organization extends into the time dimension.  Where we see spatial organization, we
see temporal organization that is just as precise.

There are natural units of space, mass and energy, such as the
Planck length or the elementary charge.
There is a lesser known natural unit of time, known as the Planck time,
which spans 10<sup>-43</sup> seconds.  According to quantum theory, it is not possible to measure a
value of time shorter than this.
Like space and energy, time is quantized.

There are many cases of resonance among the orbital periods of
the bodies in our solar system.
The most immediate example is the moon, which is in a 1:1 spin-orbit
resonance with Earth.  This means
that the moon spins on its axis at the same rate at which it orbits the
earth.  This is why we only ever see
one side of the moon.  This
resonance is a result of the gravitational pull on the moon from Earth.

Venus and Earth’s orbital periods are in an almost exact 8:13
ratio, meaning 8 Earth orbits take the same amount of time as 13 Venus
orbits.  The ratio is only 0.032%
from being a perfect integer ratio.

Temporal ratios are also central to life itself.  As biological organisms scale up and
down in size, they also scale up and down in time.  Life span and metabolic rate scale with the size of an organism
according to a simple, universal exponential equation.

Biologist James Gillooly is one researcher who has found that the
metabolic rate across organisms of all different sizes, including microscopic
organisms, plants, and animals, scales at a 3/4 power to the mass.

“We’ve found that despite the incredible diversity of life, from
a tomato plant to an amoeba to a salmon, once you correct for size and
temperature, many of these rates and times are remarkably similar,” says

He has stated that “metabolic rate is, in our view, the
fundamental biological rate.”

“There is a universal biological clock”, he says, “but it
ticks in units of energy, not units of time.”

Life lives according to this energy clock.

Distribution of Chaotic Events in Time

Chaos science finds patterns in complex systems that do not
appear to operate in an orderly way.
One finding is that earthquakes are distributed in time and severity
according to a power law.  This
means that if earthquakes are plotted on a logarithmic graph, with frequency of
occurrence on one axis, and the magnitude of the quake on the other, the results
will form a straight line on the graph.
There is a mathematical distribution of earthquakes by time and energy.

This type of power law is actually found in many complex systems,
such as avalanches, the distribution of trees in a forest, and even to mass

There have been many mass extinctions throughout our planet’s
history, of varying sizes.  Study
of the sizes and temporal distributions of these events have shown them to be
also following a power law according to frequency and size.  The extinction of the dinosaurs at the
end of the Cretaceous is commonly thought to have been caused by a meteor
impact, but there are problems with this theory.  The dinosaurs were already in decline before the meteor
impact, and many animal and plant species survived the event that should not
have, if it was strong enough to kill the dinosaurs.

The fact that mass extinctions follow a power law raises the
question of a kind of overall temporal structure governing the duration of life
at a macro level.  This would be
beyond the scope of a particular species, since mass extinction events can cut
across all forms of life.  It could
be that life forms on a larger scale are subject to a duration, the origins and
execution of which are beyond our current understanding.

The recent instances of mass animal deaths in the U.S. and
elsewhere around the world were very close together in time, happening mostly
within a week, and did not appear to have any causal consistency among them, or
any cause at all.  Large numbers of
birds fell out of the sky, and vast numbers of fish washed up on shore, with no
easy explanation.  Even if
explanations can be thought of in each individual case, these are still
speculative, and they don’t explain the simultaneity.

The Sense of Time

The way that we conventionally experience time is by perceiving
the unfolding of a process as compared to another process.  A process on its own does not
constitute what we call time; a comparison is required.  Clocks, which are mechanized processes,
are used only as a comparative standard by which to measure the unfolding of
other processes.  The seasons on
their own are simply an endlessly revolving cycle.  The concept of time enters when we measure other things
against them such as planting and harvest periods.  We know by the progression of seasons when it is time to sow
crops and when it is time to harvest them.

This is in fact not an experience of time, but essentially a
system by which we arrange things around other things.  I propose that we have a true sense of
time, and it is our ability to perceive time forms of physical world processes
unto themselves, with no reference to other processes.

Anything with a visibly regular cycle grants us visual perception
of a time form.  A clock; the sun;
deciduous tree leaves; day and night; aging.  Through their regularity, they are mapped to our sense of
space and not to our time sense.
The time sense directly perceives forms in time with no link to the
spacially-oriented senses.

Perception by Relevance

We continually process innumerable spatial forms in waking
life.  We do not take on conscious
awareness of most of the forms we perceive.  We can perceive the same object at different levels of form
in different situations.

A tree consists of endless subforms of leaves, branches, bark and
roots, each with their own subforms.
If we are out for a walk and simply trying not to bump into a tree, we
will perceive the tree form at a very general level and we will not make
conscious note of the type of leaves or bark.  If we are examining a tree for pruning, we will look at the
health of its leaves and branch structure. What level of form we perceive the
tree at is determined by relevance.

In this same way, perception of time forms is determined by
relevance.  Time forms are as innumerable
as spatial forms.  If I am waiting
for someone to return from errands, I do not sense the time form of each step
of the sidewalk, I sense the time form of the entire trip, or perhaps the time
form of the return trip.

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake has studied the commonly reported
phenomenon of dogs apparently anticipating when their owners are returning
home.  Around ten minutes before
the owner returns from being out, dogs will often go and wait at the door or
window until the owner returns.
Sheldrake interprets this as a form of telepathy between owner and dog,
whereby the dog is sensing the owner’s intention to return home, and this seems
likely.  However I would like to
reframe this within the concept of time forms.

In one series of tests reported by Sheldrake, the experimenters
used a pager to give the dog owner a signal to return home at a randomly
determined time.  In some cases,
the dog would start to wait by the door after the owner had been paged and had
formed the intention to return home.
However there were also some cases where the dog would move to the door
before the owner was paged, yet still within a few minutes of the page.  This calls into question whether or not
the dog is reacting to the owners change of intention or to the approaching
event of the owner setting out to return home.

Sheldrake reasons that before receiving the page, the owner may
be anticipating the signal and may be thinking about going home.  However the dogs behaviour makes sense
in all cases if we think of it as perceiving the time form of the owner
returning home.

The link between dog and owner is still the crucial factor, since
this results in the time form becoming relevant to the dog.  The difference is that rather than
reacting to the newly formed intention of the owner, the dog is perceiving that
the particular process that he is interested in is beginning.  This detection can slip backwards or
forwards in time; it is not limited to a strict action-reaction sequence, since
it exists independently of the flow of linear time.  Thus a time form can be perceived from future or past.  When it is perceived also depends on
relevance.  For the dog, it is
relevant to perceive the owner’s return in and around the start of the process
of the owner’s return.  It could be
slightly before or after.

In The Sense of Being Stared At, Sheldrake presents

“a large body of evidence for unusual animal behaviour
before earthquakes, including recent earthquakes in California, the 1995 Kobe
earthquake in Japan and the 1997 earthquake in Assisi, Italy. In all cases
there were many reports of wild and domesticated animals behaving in fearful,
anxious, or unusual ways several hours hours or even days before the
earthquakes struck. The same is true of the 1999 earthquake in Turkey, with its
epicentre near Izmit. Dogs were howling for hours before the earthquake, and
many cats and birds were behaving unusually.

“No one knows how some animals sense earthquakes coming.
Perhaps they pick up subtle sounds or vibrations in the earth; maybe they respond
to subterranean gases released prior to earthquakes, or react to changes in the
Earth’s electrical field. They may also sense in advance what is about to
happen in a way that lies beyond current scientific understanding, through some
kind of presentiment.”

However this sense also appears to extend to man-made disasters:

“Animals can also anticipate man-made catastrophes such as
air raids. In my book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, I
describe how during the Second World War, many families in Britain and Germany
relied on their pets’ behaviour to warn them of impending air raids, before
official warnings were given. These warnings occurred when enemy planes were
still hundreds of miles away, long before the animals could have heard them
coming. Some dogs in London even anticipated the explosion of German V-2
rockets. These missiles were supersonic and hence could not have been heard in

I think that the animals here are using the same sense that tells
them when their owner is returning home.
This is the sense of an approaching time form of high relevance.  The nature of the relevance is also
sensed by the animal, and this is why the behaviour is different in the two

In recent experiments by Dr. Daryl Bem, college students were
asked whether a computer will flash a picture on the left or right hand of the
screen.  When the pictures
contained erotic content, the guessing was accurate 53% of the time, compared
to 49% for neutral content.  I
suggest that this is because the content of the erotic picture has a relevance
to the consciousness of the student, in that it causes arousal.

Other experiments have shown that physiological responses to
erotic pictures actually begin seconds before the picture is shown, indicating
an unconscious anticipation of the time form.

A highly relevant time form would be that of your own life
span.  There are stories indicating
that people’s behaviour changes in the weeks leading up to accidental or sudden
death, when they have no foreknowledge.

Near-death experience researcher P.M.H. Atwater has interviewed
many people who have had near-death experiences, and also people who have
recently lost loved ones.  She
found a pattern of behaviour displayed by people who were approaching actual
death, but not displayed by people approaching a near-death experience.  She writes in Coming Back to Life:

“Accidental or sudden death is ‘known’ about in
advance by the one about to die, and that knowing is displayed in subconscious
behavior clues. . . . I discovered that people who sense their coming demise
usually express this ‘knowing’ in a particular behavior pattern
similar to the following:

–Usually, about three months to three weeks before the
death event, individuals begin to change their normal behavior.

–Subtle at first, this behavior change begins as a need
to reassess affairs and life goals and, at the same time, become more

–This is followed by a need to see everyone who means
anything special to them. If visits are not possible, they begin writing
letters or calling on the phone.

–As time draws near, the people become more serious about
straightening out their affairs and/or training or instructing a loved one or a
friend to take over in their stead. This instruction can be most specific,
sometimes involving details such as what is owed and what is not, what
insurance policies exist and how to handle them, how possessions should be dispersed,
what goals, programs, or projects are yet undone and how to finish them. Financial
matters seem quite important, as is the management of personal and private

–There is a need, almost a compulsion, to reveal secret
feelings and deeper thoughts, to say what has not been said, especially to
loved ones. There is usually also a need for one last ‘fling’ or to
visit special places and do what is most enjoyed.

–The need to settle affairs and wind up life’s details
can become so obsessive as to appear ‘spooky’ or weird to others.
Many times there is a need to talk over the possibility of ‘what if I
die,’ as if the individual had a dream or premonition. The person may on
occasion seem morbid or unusually serious.

–Usually, about twenty-four to thirty-six hours before
the death event, the individuals relax and are at peace. They often appear ‘high’ on something because of their unusual alertness, confidence,
and sense of joy. They exude a peculiar strength and positive demeanor as if
they were now ready for something important to happen. This pattern has held
true in people from the age of four on up, regardless of intelligence level.”

These observations from P.M.H Atwater hint at a deep unconscious
awareness of the time form of one’s own earthly existence.

Zooming In and Out of Time

Einstein revealed that time does not pass at an absolute rate,
and passes faster for an object in motion relative to a stationary object.  A space traveller going at close to
light speed would age less than someone remaining on Earth.  While these effects are much too small
to be noticed in everyday experience, they have been demonstrated in

Subatomic particles called muons have a very short existence: two
millionths of a second after their creation, they explode.  But when sped up to 99.5% of light
speed in a particle accelerator, their life span increases by a factor of ten,
relative to a stationary muon.

In the case of people traveling at different speeds and aging at
different rates, the people involved would not experience time
differently.  They would both have
a normal experience of the passage of time on their own.  They would however perceive the other
person as moving through time at a faster or slower rate.  Their motion would be faster or slower,
and a watch on their wrist would tick at a faster or slower rate, due to their
relative difference in motion through space.

But there are situations where people do experience time at a
faster or slower rate.  It is commonly
reported by people who have been in life-threatening situations that they
experience a slowing down of time.

In Into the Kill Zone, criminologist David Klinger interviewed
police officers who had experienced this kind of time dilation.  This example, quoted by Malcolm
Gladwell in Blink, is graphic but illustrates the change in the experience of

“Instead of continuing to push the gun at [my partner]
Dan’s head, he started to try to bring it around on me. This all happened real
fast — in milliseconds — and at the same time, I was bringing my gun up. Dan
was still fighting with him, and the only thought that came through my minds
was ‘Oh, dear God, don’t let me hit Dan.’ I fired five rounds. My vision
changed as soon as I started to shoot. It went from seeing the whole picture to
just seeing the suspect’s head. Everything else just disappeared. I didn’t see
Dan anymore, didn’t see anything else. All I could see was the suspect’s head.

“I saw four of my five rounds hit. The first one hit him in
his left eyebrow. It opened up a hole and the guy’s head snapped back and he
said, ‘Ooh,’ like, ‘Ooh, you got me.’ He still continued to turn the gun toward
me, and I fired my second round. I saw a red dot right below the base of his
left eye, and his head kind of turned sideways. I fired another round. It hit
on the outside of his left eye, and his eye exploded, just ruptured and came
out. My fourth round hit just in front of his left ear. The third round had
moved his head even further sideways to me, and when the fourth round hit, I
saw a red dot open on the side of his head, then close up. I didn’t see where
my last round went. Then I heard the guy fall backwards and hit the ground.”

In this situation there is a complete redirection of the senses
to the situation at hand, compared to normal life where we tolerate varying
amounts of irrelevance and distraction.
This sequence spanned maybe two seconds, yet he perceived in great
detail each miniscule movement and and placement of each bullet.

Also in Blink, from another officer:

“When he started towards us, it was almost like in slow
motion, and everything went into a tight focus. When he made his move, my whole
body just tensed up. I don’t remember having any feeling from my chest down.
Everything was focused forward to watch and react to my target. Talk about an
adrenaline rush. Everything tightened up, and all my senses were directed
forward at the man running at us with a gun. My vision was focused on his torso
and the gun. I couldn’t tell you what his left hand was doing. I have no idea.
I was watching the gun, the gun was coming down in front of his chest area.  And that’s when I did my first shots.

“I didn’t hear a thing. Not one thing.  Alan had fired one round, when I shot
my first pair but I didn’t hear him shoot. He shot two more rounds when I fired
the second time but I didn’t hear any of those rounds either. We stopped
shooting when he hit the floor and slid into me. Then I was on my feet standing
over the guy. I don’t even remember pushing myself up. All I know, the next
thing I know, I was standing on two feet, looking down on the guy. I don’t know
how I got there. Whether I pushed down with my hands, or whether I pulled up my
knees from underneath. I don’t know.
But once I was up, I was hearing things again, because I can hear brass
still clinking on the tile floor.
Time has also returned to normal by then, because it has slowed down
during the shooting. That started as soon as he started towards us. Even though
I knew he was running at us, it looked like he was moving in slow motion.
Darndest thing I ever saw.”

The officer distinctly noted that the culprit “looked like he was
moving in slow motion.”  This
slowing down is due to the very high relevance of the time form involved.  Everything that occurs during the
life-threatening situation is of the highest importance to person experiencing
it.  A zooming-in occurs in which
the time form is seen in greater detail, allowing more room for thought and
necessary action.  Sight is
narrowed to the target, blocking out everything else.  Hearing is shut down, because sound isn’t relevant in this

Relativity says that a person in motion will age at a different
rate relative to a person who is stationary, but in this situation the two
people do not experience time differently. Relevance says that a person in a
situation of higher relevance will zoom into the form of time more so than
someone in an everyday state.


Time-Space Synaesthesia

With people who have a recently identified form of synaesthesia
known as time-space synaesthesia, time periods are seen as spacial forms.  Most commonly, months of the year
appear as forms around or in front of their body, or simply in their mind’s
eye.  They can be arranged in
ovals, oblong shapes, circles or towers, and can take of different colours.

One synaesthete describes her experience:

“When someone mentions a year, I see the oval with myself
at the very bottom, Christmas day to be precise. As soon as a month is given, I
see exactly where that month is on the oval. As I move through the year, I am
very aware of my place on the oval at that current time, and the direction I am
moving in. For example, now I am moving upwards, in a northwesterly direction.
It is always anti-clockwise.”

A 2009 study from the University of Waterloo concluded “that
time-space synaesthesia is real, and that it may provide a cognitive advantage
for manipulating time-based information.”

One test for manipulating time-based information was to recite
every second month in reverse chronological order.  For example, if the month of July was presented, the correct
response would be ‘‘July. . .May. . . March. . . January. . . November. . .
September. . . July”.

It was found that the non-synaesthetes would use numerical or
verbal strategies for manipulating the months, such as mapping January to 1,
February to 2, and so on.  The
time-space synaesthetes would commonly use visual/spatial strategies to compete
the task, and achieved better results.

Whether the time-space synaesthetes actually experience time in a
different way isn’t shown in the material available.  But it is clear that they are mapping some time forms to
spacial forms as part of a natural function of their minds.  This gives weight to the idea that
forms do exist in the time dimension and that they can be perceived by our

The Mayans may have been time-space synaesthetes of a much more
advanced kind, able to perceive multiple temporal cycles embedded in the fabric
of reality, from periods in the distant past, and extending into the future.

Coordination of Time Forms in Experience

Many people have experienced what seems to be a natural
coordination of events in time.
There is a synchronization that appears to be present in the fabric of
existence that results in things lining up with no planning on our part.  This coordination is also based on

During the writing of this article, I experienced a striking
example of this.  On my way to
work, I stopped at Canada’s third largest shopping mall, Toronto Eaton’s
Centre, to run some errands.  I go
there once or twice a year.  While
there I decided to get something to eat.
I spent a couple minutes looking for a table as it was crowded.  Finding a seat, I thought about the
great numbers of people walking through — one million per week, it turns out
— and how it decreased the odds of running into someone you know.  Although, would it decrease or increase
the odds?  Seemingly both at the
same time.

I looked through my bag for something to read and pulled out an
article I had printed off about Paul Kammerer’s Law of Seriality.  This law states that there is a natural
clustering of like things, and this extends to people in crowds.  For example, he observed that people
with red hair tend to fall into clusters within a crowd.

As I finished up my food, I looked across the food court and saw
my wife sitting directly in my line of sight, having lunch with her
girlfriend.  She worked in a
completely different part of town and I had no idea she was going to be nearby,
and nor did she know that I would be there.  I walked over and we all showed our surprise at this odd
meeting up when we would both normally be at our jobs in other parts of town.

Just then her phone rang. It was our daughter’s daycare calling:
our daughter had pink eye and had to be picked up.  My wife had an important meeting, so I needed to do the

If this meeting and phone call hadn’t occurred in that sequence,
I would have continued on to work, taking me another 20 minutes further away
from the daycare, at which point I would get a phone message saying I had to
turn around and go back.  My cell
phone was broken at the time, so I could not have received a call while

In this situation, we need to look at the factors involved.  Both of us being at an unusual location
at the same time; both of us choosing seats facing the other in a crowded food
court; the timing of the phone call.

A synchronicity of the Jungian kind tends to be thought of as a
symbolic and meaningful experience, somewhat like a waking dream.  Yet, synchronized events also occur
that do not carry symbolism or depth, but simple practical value.  Both, however, operate by the principle
of relevance.

The scarab beetle that landed on Jung’s window sill as his
patient talked about her scarab dream was relevant to a deeper process of the
patient’s psyche.  As in dreams,
the relevance may be disguised in symbols and not plainly obvious.  However, as with a dream telling you
where you left your keys, it may simply help you with your day.


Temporal Environments

The purpose of our clock and calendar processes is the
coordination of time forms with other time forms.  In allocating a process to a given span of clock time, say
3pm to 5pm, we are attempting to fit a given process into the borders of a
specified time form.  We have
worked out the time form in advance, and we are saying “This process will line
up to the duration of two clock hours, starting at the third clock hour after

It is important to differentiate between measurement of forms and
experience of forms.  A clock is
the temporal equivalent of a tape measure.  A tape measure is a comparative tool and does not reveal any
experiential qualities of spatial form.
A clock is the temporal equivalent and does not provide the direct
experience of time that is available with all processes.

With measurement-based time, we are creating artificial time
structures which are the equivalent of artificial structures in space such as
buildings or cars.  These spacial
structures involve the construction and coordination of spacial forms.  Our spacial experience in a modern
environment tends to be pre-measured: we have highways and exits; blocks and
intersections; floors of a building; rooms in a floor.

As a result, in addition to our artificial spatial environment,
we have created an artificial temporal environment.

Synchronicities are a manifestation of a kind of background guidance
system based on the unconscious needs of the individual.  The person experiencing the event has
not consciously created it, and yet it is relevant to the individual and brings
an unconscious need into consciousness.

Sheldrake’s dogs sensing the return of their owners represent a
coordination of time forms based on a conscious need of an individual.  The dog consciously wants the owner to
return, and senses the time form that is relevant to the fulfillment of that

The existence of a natural, background system of event
coordination, and a conscious, individual sense of forms in time, both based on
relevance, open up the possibility of a way of life that is less reliant on
measurement, and more based around the conscious and unconscious needs, and
therefore the development, of the individual.

Clock images by Mrs Logic and Alan Cleaver, courtesy of Creative Commons license.

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