"Gradually the conviction gained recognition that all knowledge about things is exclusively a working-over of the raw material furnished by the senses. ... Galileo and Hume first upheld this principle with full clarity and decisiveness." --(Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions)
You write, "Our time-asymmetric intuitions make it difficult to be objective when considering the nature of time. But these difficulties can be overcome by using the framework of the "block universe", where every event is mapped onto a static, four-dimensional structure. In this perspective, time is represented as a spatial dimension, so the block universe can never "change"; there is no additional time dimension for such a concept to even make sense."
Actually Godel had a huge problem with the block universe, as it implies time travel while denying the flow of time. Godel pointed out the paradoxical "timeless" implications of the block universe, as well as its inability to account for time as we experience it, and this problem has largely been swept under the rug, along with curiosities such as quantum entanglement, nonlocality and all the dualities--space/time, energy/mass, and wave/particle. Today we are told that that is "just the way things are" and not to worry about it. Perhaps this helps explains why physics has not really advanced in the past thirty years... for Einstein stated, "curiosity is more importnat than knowledge."
The block universe is an human-constructed artifact of certain interpretations of relativity, as physicists glossed over the fact that x4 or "ict" is very different from the three spatial dimensions, x1, x2, x3. But Einstein and Minkowski had it right there in Einstein's 1912 manuscript: x4 = ict. Ergo, if time moves, so must x4. My paper discusses the fourth expanding in far more detail.
Time as an Emergent Phenomenon: Traveling Back to the Heroic Age of Physics by Elliot McGucken
Yes--this block time paradox/problem was swept under the rug on many levels, as well as the EPR paradox, and it is great that fqxi allows a forum to discuss such curious phenomena of our physical reality. MDT's simple principle, celebrating a hitherto unsung universal invariant--the fourth dimension is exapnding relative to the three spatial dimensions--provides a physical model liberating us from Godel's block universe while also accounting for the "spooky" action at a distance in the EPR Paradox.
You should read A World Without Time, by Palle Yourgrau
"For Godel, if there is time travel, there isn't time. The goal of the great logician was not to make room in physics for one's favorite episode of Star Trek, but rather to demonstrate that if one follows the logic of relativity further even than its father was willing to venture, the results will not just illuminate but eliminate the reality of time." -A World Without Time, Palle Yourgrau"
MDT posits that time travel into the past is not possible, as the past does not physically exist--an observation in line with all empirical observations. MDT chooses Godel, Einstein, and Minkowski over Star Trek.
You write, "This essay argues that the block universe is by far the best framework for physical theories, as general relativity is simply incompatible with any alternative."
General Relativity is completely compatible with MDT, as MDT's physical reality underlies all of relativity--indeed, relativity is derived from MDT in my paper. All of quantum mechanics is also completely compatibel with MDT.
You write, "The only part of physics that does not fit into such a "block" picture is quantum theory, as it was not originally developed in a block-universe framework. But far from implying that the block universe is incorrect, I argue that we can instead use lessons from the block universe to reconstruct quantum theory in a manner compatible with general relativity." Quantum gravity exists neither in reality, nor in any consistent theory.
You write, "Balderdash. Looking to quantum theory for answers about space-time is like looking to a roadmap for answers about geology: it's a tool designed for something else entirely."
Every physical measurement made of physical reality is governed by quantum mechanics. So please do not throw out all empirical evidence in contemplating the physical nature of time.
You say, "The solution to this dilemma is not to jettison the block universe; without the block universe we would never be able to make sense of relativity."
Actually, my essay liberates us from the block universe, while providing a *physical* foundation for relativity, while unfreezing time and providing a *physical* mechanism for entropy, nonlocality, quantum entanglement, all the dualities--wave/particle, space/time, mass/energy--and time and all its arrows and assymetries across all realms, as well as the pervasiveness of Huygens' Principle.
You write, "Instead, the solution is to reinvent every single piece of quantum theory in a block universe framework. It's a daunting task, but I'll outline how it might be done after I discuss why quantum theory can't just be "tweaked" into a block universe framework." Is this not what the quantum gravity regimes and string theorists have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to accomplish, with naught to show for it? As MDT shows that the block universe does not exist, there is no longer any need to send postdocs and graduate studnets dashing down dead-end roads. Indeed, we live in a strange era where physicits try to advance physics by paying other people to work out the details on their non-theories, raising funding by merely promising that they are on to something big, which oft neglects physical reality as a foundational premise.
You write, "So what happens to the "wasted" information in ø for those unperformed measurements? Well, in the Copenhagen interpretation, much of that information gets erased forever thanks to the "collapse" of the wavefunction. At this point one might ask: What is the point of using a high-dimensional configuration space to encode extraneous information that just gets erased anyway?"
By conducting physics in realms safe from measurement, as well as simple logic and reason and physical reality, one is generally guaranteed a lifetime of funding--a theorem proven time and again by string theory and other anti-theories.
You write, "Counterintuitive though this may be, our intuitions about time are notoriously unreliable. We need to free our intuition from time itself, taking all of our lessons from the static block universe."
Einstein would disagree--"The only real valuable thing is intuition."--Albert Einstein.
To reject *physical* intuition and replace it with the nonsensical block universe MDT does away with seems to go exactly against the spirit by which physics has ever advanced, according to Galileo, Einstein, and other noble physicists.
It seems a preposterous conclusion that quantum mechanics, which works so very well, must be thrown out and reformulated for something which MDT shows there is no need for--the block universe.
"In the long run my observations have convinced me that some men, reasoning preposterously, first establish some conclusion in their minds which, either because of its being their own or because of their having received it from some person who has their entire confidence, impresses them so deeply that one finds it impossible ever to get it out of their heads. Such arguments in support of their fixed idea ... gain their instant acceptance and applause. On the other hand whatever is brought forward against it, however ingenious and conclusive, they receive with disdain or with hot rage - if indeed it does not make them ill. Beside themselves with passion, some of them would not be backward even about scheming to suppress and silence their adversaries. I have had some experience of this myself. ... No good can come of dealing with such people, especially to the extent that their company may be not only unpleasant but dangerous."--(Galileo Galilei)
"my dear Kepler, what do you think of the foremost philosophers of this University? In spite of my oft-repeated efforts and invitations, they have refused, with the obstinacy of a glutted adder, to look at the planets or Moon or my telescope." --Galileo Galilei
We must forver keep physical reality in the front and center, along with logic and reason and *physical* intuition--otherwise progress in physics will grind to a halt, as it has for the past thirty years.
"But before mankind could be ripe for a science which takes in the whole of reality, a second fundamental truth was needed, which only became common property among philosophers with the advent of Kepler and Galileo. Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts form experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics -- indeed, of modern science altogether." --Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions