Sims: We exist in the future; we perceive the past.

We exist in the future; we perceive the past.

I was recently acquainted with this interesting, but fairly simple, idea – that we exist in the future of what we perceive.
To begin: light takes time to travel; one second to cross 299,792,458 metres, to be exact. Now take the stars in the night sky, for example; Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun, is approx. 4.2 light-years away. This, of course, means that the light emanating from it takes 4.2 years to reach us here on Earth. We therefore see the star as it was 4.2 years ago.
Light from everything in the universe, including this text which you are reading now, has taken time, no matter how miniscule an amount, to reach your eyes. Say, for example, your monitor is 50cm from your eyes; it has taken the light from said monitor 1.66782048×10-9 seconds to arrive at your retina. You are therefore viewing the monitor as it was 1.66782048×10-9 seconds ago. Every single object you see is merely an image of what that object looked like in the past. This includes your own body.

Conclusion (TL:DR) – Because light takes time to travel, we see everything in the universe for what they were in the past. Our body, therefore, physically exists fractionally further in the future of what we perceive.


  1. Lewis Ross Watton said:

    As interesting as that is, everything exists in the same time. Every piece of matter that exists does so at the same time as every atom in your body exists. You’re right when you say that what we perceive is a past event, but really what we perceive is our own version of reality. If for example a space traveler was travelling close to the speed of light between two stars, toward one and away from another, and both stars exploded precisely simultaneously, the space traveler would perceive the star he was travelling towards to explode before the star he is travelling away from, since the light from the star he’s getting closer to can reach him faster than the light he’s moving away from. Basically that’s the theory of relativity: every person perceives things relative to their position, speed, acceleration (and position in time, but that’s complex).

  2. Thanks for the comment Lewis! But yes you are, of course, correct. Everything in the universe physically exists in the same 3rd dimensional space (from what we have observed). I know exactly what you mean by existing in the same ‘time’, but of course ‘time’ is a subjective measurement and is subject to constant change throughout the universe. As the 3rd dimension – space – and the 4th dimension – duration, as I much prefer to call it – are unified (the space-time continuum), objects that exist within the same 3rd dimensional space must also exist in the same 4th dimensional ‘duration’. So yes, all matter exists simultaneously in the 4th dimension.
    What I meant by the ‘past’ (which I should have made clearer) was the past in ‘time’, not the 4th dimension itself. I will in fact explain these ideas surrounding the 4th dimension in an upcoming post, as I feel this is a topic I am most interested in.

    Again, thanks for the comment, hope this helps!

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