Time and space enter the discussion on comparable footings! If we only think of space, and of Superspace in particular, there is no beginning (mathematically, "time t = 0") to grapple with; strangely, the Universe may then be said to have a finite past, but no "beginning" since "beginning" is transformed into a spatial "snapshot." The first spatial snapshot is no more important, or less important, than any other snapshot as one travels a curve in Superspace.
The time mask begins to be penetrated; while the laws of physics break down at conventional "time zero," "the beginning" of the Universe would really just be the first snapshot of the Creation Event, in Superspace! Time is masterfully transformed away.
Professor Christopher J. Isham (Imperial College, London) yields a theological overtone:
From an aesthetic point of view, there is something rather attractive about the completeness of space-time as represented in the Hartle-Hawking proposal; one can almost imagine the Universe being held in the cup of God's hand.
There are many other temporal labels of time. In the wonder of the microcosm, we could define time in terms of the number of differentiated cells in the liver, the heart and the brain. Think of a fertilized ovum, four days old, gliding into the uterus of its mother. An ovum four days old, looking very much like a little solar system. What is time to the foetus? If we so wish, time could be defined as the number of undifferentiated versus differentiated cells. As there is a progression in what we call time, what the ovum sees is an increase in the number of cells which are going to be differentiated - from stem cells, to become portions of the liver, the heart, the brain, and so on. We may then think of a foetus three months old. Masterful photographs from the womb show a space traveler in a capsule, complete with his or her lifeline, the rugged halo, or chorionic sac. The number of differentiated cells has increased. It marks the flow of time. It is the increased number of differentiation in cells, from the heart, to the liver, to the brain, to the eyes.
Next, envisage a foetus 4% months old. The hands are formed - yet another exquisite work of art. Did not Chesterton say that art is the signature of man?
In our world of Superspace, as we approach what Polkinghorne, Penzias and others see as the "Creation Event," the underlying equality of space and time asserts itself aggressively! In the Trobriand Islands, we saw faces of wonder everywhere. Wonder at our sunglasses. Wonder at our camera lenses. Wonder at what lies behind the mask of sunglasses.
As conceived by Hartle and Hawking, the history of our Universe is a curve in Superspace, the union of every possible three-dimensional curved space. That space in which the Papua New Guinean are all too familiar with: their world of setting Suns, of rising Moon and stars, and of the early-morning Mount Hagen mists - Shrouds of the Dawn.
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