On Fri, 12 May 2006, Saibal Mitra wrote:

>
> Einstein seems to have believed in ''immortal observer moments''.
>
> In a BBC documentary about time it was mentioned that Einstein consoled a
> friend whose son had died in a tragic accident by saying that relativity
> suggests that the past and the future are as real as the present.
>

I'm sure Einstein would turn in his grave at your quoted expression. An 
immortal moment is a contradiction in terms, unless it implies a "second 
time" which passes as we contemplate "first time" embedded in 4-D 
space-time.  Unfortunately a lot of popular discussion of space-time 
implicitly invokes this spurious second time, because it is hard to 
decouple the language of existence from the language of existence *in 
time*. To believe, with Einstein, that all points in space-time are 
equally real (because the relativity of simultaneity means that there is 
no unique "now") is quite the opposite of the nutty idea that all events 
exist "now" --- not even wrong, from Einstein's point of view.

Einstein actually expressed this view in a letter of condolence to the 
widow of his old friend Michele Besso. His words are worth quoting 
accurately:

"In quitting this strange world he has once again preceded me by just a 
little. That doesn't mean anything. For we convinced physicists the 
distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however 
persistent."

Later physicists, in particular John Bell, have pointed out that 
relativity doesn't *prove* that now is an illusion, it just makes it 
impossible to identify any objective "now".

Not that any of this has anything to do with the sort of immortality 
contemplated by Everett, which is not at all enticing: like the Sibyl in 
classical myth, his immortality would not be accompanied by eternal 
youth... a rather horrible fate.

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