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Posted by18 minutes ago

I have been reading a bit on Einstein’s special theory of relativity. It seems clear to me from the theory that two observers do not necessarily agree on what events occur simultaneously. However philosophically speaking, I have difficulty understanding how that relates with the concept of now.

Let’s consider that in my reference frame I am holding my phone typing this question. Suppose that in my reference frame there is someone approaching me from a far distance at a speed close to that of light. Then that person would find my future self to be simultaneous with him/herself (let’s say it’s a future self that is asleep because it’s night time).

I do not know how to interpret this. I am not yet in that state. It seems that I will eventually become that future self but that is not what I am yet. Should I interpret this as simply saying that experiments carried out by that person will reveal my future self to be simultaneous with the person BUT NOT to mean that the future self exists yet? In other words should I interpret this as saying that the laws of physics only give you what is simultaneous IN your reference frame but not necessarily what is happening in the moment (in the way that it is the case that I am typing on my phone and not sleeping).

And if I bite that bullet it seems I’m forced to consider that the person I say is approaching me might only be doing that in my reference frame and not in reality (a word whose meaning is no longer be clear to me).

I guess it is related to the question, is there a present state of the universe or is that relative as well? If it is relative how can that be so, when there is a clear difference between who I am now and who I was or would be (states of myself that are only theoretical now since we’re just talking about them theoretically).

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