What about death? 

           Death is temporal, so how we think about time matters. Relativity theory says that time is bound up with the spacial dimensions into space-time dimensions. Space-time is like space in that a length of space-time has a beginning point and ending point, but the whole length exists. 

           From this viewpoint, there is no death as we think of it: the end of existence. Death would be the end of a segment of space-time as a piece of string has an end. The whole piece exists even though it is finite and has a definite beginning point and ending point. 

           That clearly isn’t how we see death, or life for that matter, but how do we experience death? 

            No one living knows of course. I think it could be similar to approaching the speed of light or falling into a black hole. In either case, there are two different experiences, that of the participant and that of an observer. 

            Accelerating to close to the speed of light, time appears to an observer to slow down for the participant. At the speed of light (which can’t actually be attained by a physical body) time would stop, and length along the direction of travel would go to zero. For the participant, who knows? If time really does stop that’s the definition of eternity. But it’s more likely (if anything about any of this is likely) that person wouldn’t notice anything except different surroundings cutoff completely from everyone and everything previously known. 

            Falling into a black hole, the participant—assuming that person is not torn apart by the forces involved, a big assumption but theoretically possible if the black hole is very big—would just go through to whatever is on the other side, inside the black hole, similarly cutoff from everything on the outside. From the point of view of an observer, however, the participant’s time would just slow to a stop and that person would be seen as frozen at the surface. 

            So, without being able to say anything more, in both cases we may at least say that the experience of the participant is very different from what an observer sees. 

           Maybe death is like this. 

            Hugh Moffatt 
            Waltham, MA 
            June 5, 2019