The Metabolic Trap

If I am going so slow that I’m bursting into flames, how can I speed up? I’m already bursting into flames!

If I am going so fast that I am freezing (precipitating out of solution), how can I slow down? I’m already freezing!

Plato asks us to consider the possibility that we do not see reality in his famous Allegory of the Cave.

Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman takes up the same line of inquiry, centuries later, and gives us a shocking answer to Plato’s question. The probability that we see reality is zero. (And yes, they have the maths to prove it.)

If we accept that we do not see reality, there is an unsettling possibility that arises. Do we see backward?

In the gas giants, are we seeing light that is so dense (so cold), it’s burning up?

In the rocky planets, are we seeing light that is so diffuse (so hot), it’s freezing?

(The Mpemba effect is the name given to the observation that a liquid (typically water) which is initially hot can freeze faster than the same liquid which begins cold, under otherwise similar conditions.)

Perhaps time has a range—a “floor” and a “ceiling.” When we hit the floor—as when we bump up against the back of a passenger car on a speeding train—we paradoxically find ourselves being pulled forward. When we hit the ceiling—as when we bump up against the front of a passenger car on a speeding train—we paradoxically find ourselves being pulled backward.

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