The Single Instant Theory

Jul 21, 2020
Visit site
The Single Instant Theory
Kenneth T. Hunt​

This paper attempts to answer the question “What is spacetime?“ In general, there is no comprehensive understanding of what spacetime “is” or how “it“ works.
Understanding the first moments of existence when “spacetime” expanded, as well as notions of relativity, gravity and light are essential to answering the question “What is spacetime?”.
Presented below is a new interpretation and view of “spacetime” based on deductions from known and accepted scientific principles.


This theory proposes the idea that “spacetime” is a “single instant” of time. That the “fabric of spacetime”, at its foundational structure, is a single moment of spacetime.
This structure can be “bent or warped” by an object's mass, energy and gravitational field, such that a “bubble” of relative “experiential time” is created. Every object travelling slower than the speed of light creates its own “bubble”.
From the perspective of the “Bubble Earth”, the age of the universe is approximatly 13.8 billion years. From a perspective not influenced by a gravitational field and where relativity is not present, the “age” of the universe is a single moment of time. The relative “bubble” created around the Earth “warps” the single moment of spacetime and allows us to experience that single moment in an extended manner. The experience of that bending or warping is the “stretching” of the single moment of spacetime and is what we understand as the passage of time. Thus, the universe is both a single moment in time and, from our relative perspective, 13.8 billion years old.

This theory relies upon the following factors: That the universe came into existence at approximately 10⁻43 millionths of a second[1] in the Big Bang. In that instant, spacetime and the entirety of the universe came to exist. The expansion occurred at a rate 1075 the speed of light.[2] This theory puts forth the idea that the instant the universe came into existence the basic foundational structure, the fabric of spacetime, was set in stone as one “single” instant of spacetime. In what could be described as no more than a “sliver“ of spacetime the entire vastness of the universe was created.

Essentially, the temporal structure of spacetime was “frozen“ at the initial moment that spacetime came into existence and has remained unchanged. The present moment of spacetime is the same millisecond it was when it first came into existence.

A simple analogy may help illuminate an aspect of this theory. Imagine several astronauts on a spaceship travelling near the speed of light. Einstein's theories on relativity suggest that the passage of time slows down for the astronauts. Now, imagine that the spaceship reaches the speed of light. In theory, time would stop for those astronauts. If one understands from this analogy that the passage of “time” could “stop” and be, essentially “frozen” as a moment of time, then the notion that spacetime could be a ‘single instant” can be understood.

In accepted theory, spacetime starts in less than a billionth of a second, creating the entire galaxy. It is at that point that we “start the clock“ and since then approximately 13.8 billion years have passed. In this theory, spacetime starts but there is no clock to start running. Spacetime is that single moment. What we perceive as the last 13.8 billion years “exists” in that moment. In other words, the essential building block of the fabric of spacetime is the single instant of existence which is forever “locked“ or “frozen“ in that moment. We live in the single moment created at 10⁻43 millionths of a second. In this theory, time does not move in a “tick tock” fashion. In other words, there was just one “tick“, at 10⁻43 second, and no “tock”. That “tick“ is both finite and infinite, existing, in form and structure, as a single moment, but lasting forever.


The single instant of spacetime is the same moment of time that light photons experience as existence.

A beam of light will travel for billions of years and never be affected by time. In addition, “Photons do not experience time. From the perspective of a photon, there is no such thing as time. It's emitted, and might exist for hundreds of trillions of years, but for the photon, there's zero time elapsed between when it's emitted and when it's absorbed again.”[3]
The fact that light photons do not experience the passage of time is vital to understanding this theory. Light photons exist in a single moment of spacetime and are not affected by the passage of time nor by relativity.
As people, we reside in the same single moment of spacetime in which light photons exist but that moment of time is “warped or stretched”, in an infinite manner, such that we feel, experience and comprehend that “single moment” as the infinite passage of time.

Spacetime can be thought of as a “State”. The structure of spacetime created a “State” of existence with its own unique set of rules. The temporal nature of spacetime never changes and all objects are governed by the rules of that “State”.
At the moment the universe came into existence two separate things occurred. First, the “physical” form and structure of spacetime were established including an infinite area. Second, the “temporal” structure and framework was created. Both occurred simultaneously.
One result of this framework relates to the speed of light and the ability to use that as a standard for measurement. The speed of light acts as a dividing line such that for entities with no mass, that travel at the speed of light, “time” does not pass, whereas for objects with mass that travel below the speed of light “time” does pass and can be measured.

Given the fact that “time” is experienced differently based on whether an entity has mass it is useful to think of spacetime as having a “dual phase” nature. Depending on whether an entity is traveling at the speed of light or has mass, determines which “phase” of spacetime the object inhabits.
The “Alpha Phase” State, is where entities without mass, such as light photons, reside. This is spacetime in that initial moment of existence undisturbed by mass and gravity and where principles of relativity are not applicable.
The other, the “Beta Phase” State, is where objects with mass and gravity reside. By definition, these objects are traveling slower than the speed of light. Objects that exist in the Beta Phase State “experience” and are affecteted by the passage of time. Objects experience the passage of time because they bend the fabric of spacetime. The “bending” or “stretching’ of spacetime create the conditions to “experience” the passage of time.

The term “experiential time” is used to describe the notion of the passage of time. People, as objects, experience the passage of time in every conceivable manner. Examples are endless from the planting of a tree as a sapling and watching it grow to observing the “circle of life” for everything in the universe. The term “experiential time” describes the idea that people exist and “experience” events which are “felt” as the passage of time.
In addition, this term is important in understanding this theory. Experience, on a personal level, would lead one to reject the notion that spacetime could be a single instant of time given one’s understanding of past, present and future. As explained below, only objects with mass and gravity “experience” the passage of time.
Experiential time is the “effect“ or “result” of the bending of spacetime and notions of relativity. At any speed slower than the speed of light, these effects are felt, and experienced as the aging process. In the vastness of empty space the only experience for massless objects (such as photons) is the “present” moment of existence.
Conversly, objects with mass do experience the past, present and future. But importantly, only the “present” moment is and can be “experienced”. The fact that we only experience one moment is crucial to understanding this theory. The one moment that we can experience at a time is that same initial moment of existence. It is one single moment. For objects, and people, spacetime is not a movement from one moment to another moment. It is one continuous moment, which is “experienced“ as infinite.

This theory relies upon the “elastic” nature of spacetime as described by Einstein. From his General and Special Theories on Relativity we understand that an object's mass, size, speed and gravitational influence “bend” the elastic nature of spacetime making the passage of “time” itself relative.[4] The mass, speed and gravitational influence of an object bends “time” like it bends “light”.
This fact, along with the idea that light photons do not experience the passage of time, leads to the conclusion that an essential aspect of the foundational building block of spacetime is that it ‘exists” as a single instant of “time”. Each object's mass and speed stretch the fabric of spacetime creating the conditions necessary for the perception of time. Our interpretation of that “stretch“ is the passage of time.
Conversely, “space” does not experience the passage of time. Spacetime is frozen at 10⁻43 millionths of a second. This could be considered as the “stasis” state of space. Objects with mass travelling slower than the speed of light interfere with and modify the stasis state and “bends” spacetime. Those objects exist and experience “time“ relative to their size, mass, speed and gravitational influence on the static surrounding space. The strength of the distortion determines how fast or slow one interprets experiential time.
Further, objects traveling at the speed of light “exist“ in the State of spacetime and experience time as as a single moment of existence with no past or future. Likewise, objects traveling slower than the speed of light experience the single moment of time as the infinite passage of time. Each object experiences the passage of time at a “relative“ rate depending on its gravitational effect on spacetime. In other words, there is one single moment of time that is “existence” and that objects moving through space warp the “stasis” state of spacetime and thus “experience“ the passage of time.
When the “statis” framework of spacetime is “warped or bent'' that distortion creates a “Bubble of Time” in the fabric of spacetime. Since there are billions of “objects” in space, likewise there are billions of “bubbles of time” in the universe. Each “bubble” experiences the passage of time at it’s own “rate” based on each object's mass and speed and principles of relativity. It seems appropriate to refer to this planet as “Bubble Earth” in this context.
In these “bubbles” the passage of time can be experienced. In the void of space and the areas “in between“ objects, there is no passage of time. Areas of space that are “uninhabited” by any object still exist in the “original“ moment of 10⁻43 millionths of a second, in the “stasis“ State of the fabric of spacetime.

The notion that people can make an incorrect conclusion based on observable facts is an important aspect of this theory. We understand “time” based on observable facts. Those observations paint a picture of time as having a past, present and future. We can observe the effects of the passage of time on every object and deduce that time moves in a forward direction.
As an example, for much of mankind's history there existed the belief that both the world was flat and that the Sun circled the Earth. These same conclusions were reached by different cultures based on the same observable facts. It took advancements in the sciences, generally, to convince people that the world was “round” and that the earth “circled” the sun.
This theory puts forth the idea that in fact our minds have been “fooled” in a similer manner with regard to how “time” is viewed. While we observe every “object” experience the effects of the passage of time, we do not see that the temporal nature of “space” itself is affected. In other words, spacetime, as an entity or a State, does not “age” or experience the passage of time. We view the effects of the passage of time on all “objects” and then infer that same process occurs with “spacetime”. But “time” is just one aspect or part of “spacetime”. When we see the aging progress of time on all “objects” we assume the same is true for “space” as a representative of time. We assume the space around us “ages” as well as all “objects”. This theory proposes that objects experience the passage of time and age. Whereas space, and therefore spacetime, does not experience the passage of time and does not age.
The notion that the passage of “spacetime” is an illusion was addressed by Albert Einstein who is quoted as having said “...the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Paul Mainwood, commenting on Einstein’s quote said “Einstein did not reject the existence of time. Instead, he rejected the distinction between past, present, and future. This may seem like a minor difference, but it is not.”[5] In this theory, time exists, just not in the way we think. Through our experiences, our mind paints a picture of how time works. But that understanding presents a flawed view of time and does not represent how time actually works.
Everything in the universe experiences the effects of the passage of time but not “spacetime” itself. Our minds fool us into thinking that “spacetime” is subject to the same laws of nature as everything else. This happens in two ways. The first, in thinking that space, and thus spacetime, “age“ as we do. The second, that we move “forward“ in time.
Time itself is very real and we both see and feel its effects.[6] What is an illusion is that “spacetime” has movement in a “forward“ direction. The passage of “relative” time has an effect on objects such that it “feels“ like “time” is moving in a forward direction. In reality, objects in space are affected and do “age” and that aging is the “passage of relative time”. But “spacetime” itself, as a State, does not age.
It is not that “time” is an illusion, but rather the “passage“ of “spacetime” is the illusion. Time is not an illusion. The passage of relative time is not an illusion. The notion that space itself experiences the passage of time in some relative manner, as we do, is an illusion. These factors create the feeling or sensation that “time moves“. We are not moving “with” time. We exist in a “bubble” of experiential time.

Based on the statements above spacetime can be described as follows. Spacetime is a permeable dual phase temporal State. Spacetime is forever frozen in its initial constructed and constitutional State, yet malleable enough to allow objects with mass to move through.
1. Permeable. As the term implies spacetime is such that both light photons and objects with mass can pass through easily and unobstructed.
2. State. Spacetime, as a combination of both space and time, exists as a State. Ex. liquid state, solid state, gaseous state.
3. Dual Phase State. Spacetime has two phases. The first, “Alpha Phase State”, is where entities that travel faster than the speed of light exist. The second, the “Beta Phase State”, is where entities that travel slower than the speed of light exist.
4. Temporal. As a “State”, it created the fabric of spacetime which defines existence.

Spacetime is unlike other entities or subjects and because it is so different no “one'' analogy or example can be used to make a comparison. Several examples are needed, each of which provides a different aspect which when combined can, hopefully, paint a more accurate and complete picture of spacetime.
Example One: As stated above, if astronauts were somehow able to defy the laws of physics and travel at the speed of light, for them time would come to a complete stop. The passage of time for them would not occur and time would be frozen.
Example Two: Light photons do not experience the passage of time. This idea is fundamental to this theory. Photons only exist in a single moment. This theory proposes that all light photons, from whatever source or time, exist in the “same” single moment of spacetime. That the initial expansion of spacetime itself, occurring at 1075 times the speed of light, created a permanent and fixed aspect of spacetime, that is the single instant of time in which existence occurs.
Example Three: Albert Einstein offered as a visual example the notion that spacetime was like an elastic rubber band in which objects with mass bend the fabric of spacetime. In that vein, I would like to make the comparison or analogy of the universe and spacetime to a “round of swiss cheese”. In this example, the overall general shape of a “round” of swiss cheese is reminiscent of the shape of the universe in many models. The solid “cheese” represents the vast openness of space. The “holes” or air bubbles represent the effect an object has on the fabric of space and the object's gravitational sphere of influence. This theory proposes that the solid cheese aspect of this example is spacetime unaffected by any objects or matter. This area of the cheese is frozen in its original state. The “bubbles” in the cheese represent the “bubbles of time” in this theory. It is within these bubbles of time that the passage of time can be felt or experienced.
Example Four: This example has to do with the open space right in front each reader. Take a moment to stop and notice the “open space” between objects. Traditionaly the conclusion is drawn that since we can observe the aging process in every object, that the open space in between all objects must “age” as well. This is an illusion that the human mind creates as a coping mechanism for dealing with and understanding the nature of time. It is assumed that empty space grows old and ages just as all objects do. This theory proposes that open space, whether right in front of the reader or in deep space, does not age and is in fact the same, single instant or moment in time. The space in front of the reader never ages. Likewise, we exist in that single moment and it is the only moment that we experience. Each “experienced” moment then becomes what we understand as a “once” “present” moment.
Example Five: Imagine two seperate photons of light from two different stars. One that is 1,000 light-years and one that is 100 light-years from Earth. Each emits or radiates a photon headed for Earth. On their journey, neither photon will experience the passage of time. Each Photon will simply exist. This theory proposes that both photons, separated by origin, time and space, nonetheless exist and inhabit the same moment of spacetime.
Example Six: One consequence of this theory is that “traveling in time” is impossible. To travel in time one would either travel to a past or future “moment”. This theory proposes that there is only “one” single moment of “spacetime” and thus there is no earlier or future “moment” to travel too. Essentially, one cannot travel to the past or the future because there is only the present moment. While there are clearly past memories and future experiences to come, this theory proposes that all of those past experiences and memories and future experiences have and will occur in the single moment of existence.

I have attempted to explain how spacetime works. This includes a universe where “time” exists in a “frozen” state where objects, such as stars and planets, “bend or stretch” the very fabric of spacetime to create “bubbles of time” where existence can be felt and experienced.
This theory proposes that while objects experience the passage of “time”, “spacetime” does not. Spacetime is frozen at the single instant in which it came into existence. “Time”, as an integral and non severable part of “spacetime” exists in that same frozen state. The last 13.8 billion years have occurred, but have done so, both literally and figuratively, in the blink of an eye. All of existence occurs within that single instant of spacetime. We are, relatively speaking, 13.8 billion years into an infinite moment.
One inescapable conclusion of this theory is that the passage of “spacetime” is an illusion. In reality, spacetime is not moving. Objects move through a single instant of spacetime yet “experience” that moment as the passage of time. “Experience” and the passage of time are the result of the stretching or bending of spacetime.
When the relevant scientific data is examined its leads to the odd but inescapable conclusion that spacetime is a single instant of time. The Big Bang and the expansion of the universe occurred in a single instant. Light photons reside in a single moment of existence. Relativity means that the passage of time can be faster or slower or even stop. When these factors are combinded they lead to the conclusion that the “nature” of time is that it is “frozen” in the stasis state at the moment of existence.

[1] Hathaway, Nancy. (1994) The Friendly Guide to the Universe: A Down-to-Earth Tour of Space, Time, and the Wonders of the Cosmos. U.S. Penguin Group. (p.3)
[2] Hooper, Dan. (2019). At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds. United Kingdom: Princeton University Press.
[3] Article, Does light experience time? By Frasier Cain. Universe Today. Published by May 8, 2014
[4] Einstein A. (1916), Relativity: The Special and General Theory (Translation 1920), New York: H. Holt and Company
[5] Statement of Paul Mainwood, Doctorate in the philosophy of physics. December 28, 2016.
[6] See, Article, Time Really Passes. John D. Norton. Center for philosophy of Science, Department of History and Philosophy of Science. University of Pittsburgh. (2009)