What is "time"

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Saint, Nov 9, 2014.

  1. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    It's not a false step...scientific theories are just that theories...always open for addition [such as Inflation with the BB] modification and/or just plain scrapping.
    But also as I have said many times, scientific theories do gain in certainty over time...
    Some that are "near certain" and in the top echelon of certainties are the BB/Inflationary model of Universal evolution, SR, GR, Evolution of life and Abiogenesis.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    The reality or otherwise of time is hotly disputed and often debated.
    I take the positive stand for reasons already given as does the reputable physicist Sean Carroll.
    Here's a nice little 10 minute video..why not take the time and watch it...
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  5. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    double post:
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
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  7. tashja Registered Senior Member

    Prof. Smolin's new collaboration with Roberto Mangabeira, ''The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time,'' to be released by the end of this month should be interesting. Here are some of the topics the book will cover which I think are very relevant to this thread:

  8. tashja Registered Senior Member

    Speaking of Sean Carroll... listen to what he says about time in the last part of the hangout. Fast-forward to 1:22:10

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  9. Farsight

    Thanks tashja. I have to say that I think guys like Smolin and Carroll make things too complicated. How anybody can write a whole book about time beats me.
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  10. MattMars Registered Member

    Hi Pad,

    Thank you for your replies, I understand how from our typical pov it will look as if time exists, and i am very familiar with the theory of time, (as I say here's my research list https://sites.google.com/site/abriefhistoryoftimelessness/bib )

    The production of my book represents a tremendous amount of work, the kindle version is 500 sides, and throughout every page I have to try to carefully bring people back to systematic thought, in the face of an audience that almost certainly think there is no need to be systematic, becasue they are sure they dont have confirmation bias... becasue they are right.

    The main reason for the books existence is becasue I found many comments like the one you quoted above...

    here, with respect, you are accepting and duplicating an opinion about Relativity, from someone else who has accepted and duplicated the opinion, and many people do this.

    But, I can tell from your posts that you have not actually checked "On The electrodynamics of moving bodies", yourself, and that neither has John D Norton.
    ( https://sites.google.com/site/abrie...lativity/the-electrodynamics-of-moving-bodies )

    It was in realising how many people were, not being systematic, failing to check their most basic assumptions, and duplicating other peoples conclusions without checking the most basic sources of information that inspired me to put in the effort to produce the book, videos live talks and website.

    if you examine just section one ( yes, so many people dont eve read section 1!) of Einsteins "Electrodynamics" , "Kinematics", you will find that in fact SR does not show that a thing called time exists, or "passes", as things exist and move, but in fact Relativity only gives and example that shows things move, and we can compare examples of motion.

    Specifically In Einsteins own example he clearly just compares two examples of motion, and "calls" one of them "time". If the ramifications of this are understood, it's a real game changer showing for example that you, John D Norton, and anyone else who relies on Relativity to back up a view on "time", may be wrong to do so.

    SR does show us that moving oscillators are oscillating more slowly than expected, but that is not evidence that a thing called time exists and passes, between a past and future, or that there is a fourth dimension. the leap from moving oscillators running slow to...

    is massive, and i think you will find, invalid.

    I've tried to link to a specific part of this talk that explains this

    as I say, time may exist, or we may be wrong from the outset top make such an assumption... and even Einstein, Minkowski's, Georges Lemaîtres , and Hubbles, work ( et al) , may contain that false assumption, unless checked, just quoting them will only add false certainty...

    imo, as i said in my first post,

    it's worth really asking oneself the question

    ( and watch out for that confirmation bias

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    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  11. MattMars Registered Member

    Sorry , cant link to specific start point of video.

    the bit on Relativity , ( "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies") , possibly not being evidence or support of time is at 1:19

    normally youtube url and watch?v=ii3gxxn2reA&t=1m19s

    (anyone know how to do it here?)

    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  12. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    The Sean Carroll video was one I haven't seen, but I have read both of his most recent books. Thanks.

    In his book, Sean seems makes a lot of the idea of a block universe (multiverses without time modeled after sequences of frames of a movie). In a recent book on the same subject, Lee Smolin relates time more closely to entropy increase on larger scales.

    But in this video, Carroll backpedals and seems to say that time may be simply comparing the rates of how a reference (such as the hands of an analog clock) move as compared to the rate at which anything else that is moving.

    That quantum foam "moves". It would move whether or not there were any matter with which to compare its movement with.

    In your mind you could compare the way the vacuum foam moves to the way that bound energy moves (3D grids of tunable laser beams propagating in a small enough space before they de-cohere, for instance). Such an energy grid would also be defined as "bound". It would be like creating matter with which to compare the movement of the quantum foam.

    The virtual energy in the quantum foam would interfere with the photons in the 3D grid. If you moved the grid sufficiently close together, it would interfere just like a double slit interferes, and you would have created a clock out of nothing but energy.
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  13. MattMars Registered Member

    Thanks tashja (great name)
    Professor caroll says (perhaps) "time is just what clocks measure" ( and the hosts say "scary")

    I sincerely think that is on the right track, but not quite right, and not necessarily scary.

    What people don't seem to consider, before they rush of to imagine a thing called time exists, is that perhaps the universe is just as it appears to be. I.e. Perhaps it is just filled with matter, moving and interacting at different speeds in all directions.

    (in which case a 'clock' doesn't 'measure' anything, it is just a very useful example of a hand rotating at a steady speed, that we can usefully compare to other moving things)

    We get the idea there may be a thing called time, because we say we can "remember the past", and so we assume there is a "past", and thus maybe a future, and a thing called time with a direction (or arrow as the professor says).

    But consider, for the patterns in our minds (we call memories of "the" "past") to form, all that is required is for matter, and light etc, to interact with ourselves so as to be changing the organisation of the contents of our minds.

    In other words, rather than just speculating and endlessly churning over the same staid set of quotes and opinions, it seems sensible to me to ask a few exploratory questions, and to check the actual answers (e.g. experimentally) to come up with some new avenues of thought, e.g.

    "Although we suspect there is a past, are we really valid in assuming this?"
    And, imo, very importantly...

    "If matter just exists and interacts, would this be enough to mislead us in to thinking there is a past, future, and 'time' ?"

    It all comes down , I think, to a key question,

    "Is there a past, or is there not, a past"

    Because: if there is not a past, then there is not a past. Period.

    And if, as things move and change no "temporal past" is actually created, or stored or existing, then we actually have no reason to suspect a thing called time, real or emergent, exists in any way at all. (Or is merged as space time, or actually has a direction etc).

    so, "time" may not be real, or emergent... we may just be wrong from the outset to assume such a thing exists, becasue we have not even checked, ( let alone checked and legitimately dismissed if possible the most obvious possible explanation that explains all that we actually observe )

    Matthew Marsden
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  14. MattMars Registered Member

    hi Farsight,

    I have written 'a whole book about time'... or rather the possibility of "timelessness", and it nearly beat me

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    you just have to get your head down and realise - you can talk about it all you want, but, if you're not typing, the book isn't getting written

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    ("A Brief History of Timelessness")
  15. Farsight

    Hi Matt. Your book looks interesting. I see you did an Amazon review of Lee Smolin's book too. I broadly share you views, see for example Time Explained or Time Travel is Science Fiction. I'm John Duffield by the way, I wrote a book in 2009. Pleased to make your acquaintance.
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  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    In post 28, after giving proof & example (Day / 360 degree rotation of earth was 48 inches burning of standard candle) that time could be eliminated from all equations describing the universe, I said: Time, t, is just a very convenient parameter in equations - it could be eliminated from a complete (classical at least) description of every thing that occurs in the universe.
    The existence of something with no observable quantities, like mass, volume, extent, etc. is very questionable - most likely a fiction - time does not exist, except as a convenient parameter that can "decouple" equations" but in truth, we don't decouple pairs of phenomenon. Instead we couple all others to the small set of phenomenon listed below.

    While true, it is however to couple all the equations describing the universe to a small set of other phenomena:
    One trip of earth around the sun: a phenomena called a year
    One trip of moon back to same over head spot: month
    One 360 rotation of Earth: day
    One complete fall of sand from top to bottom of glass with narrow passage between: hour
    One swing of pendulum (half cycle) with length 49.7cm: second
    One oscillation of quart crystal of Timex type watch: No name but many are a second.*
    * "Second" in line above is just short for: one swing of pendulum two lines above. Although
    that "one swing" is OK for most needs, it varies with strength of local earth's gravity, so for precise
    use a "second" is instead: 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition
    between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.

    All of the above are not "times" but just convenient names for an above physical process that is
    often coupled with another with another in a description of it that makes no use of non-existing time.

    SUMMARY: To avoid speaking fiction, like max speed of a unicorn or time "passing," we do for the simplicity that
    results couple all observable phenomenon to one of the above list physical processes, with reference to it short name.
    Doing this does misleads some to think unicorns and or time is some real existing thing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2014
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  17. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    You believe they make things too complicated?

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    Funny I see there explanations as to why time is real, as ignoring all the unnecessary baggage in favour of simple facts...Like if time did not exist, the BB would not have taken place and we wouldn't be here.
    Or the simple fact that the non absolute nature of time shows it to be real, just as is space, space time, gravity, matter and energy.
    To doubt one, is to doubt all in my opinion.
  18. MattMars Registered Member

    Hi John,

    Very nice to hear from you, thanks for the links, i posted a reply on time travel, (are there are some images missing in http://www.scienceforums.com/topic/9308-time-explained-v21/ )

    is this your book here... can I get a kindle version?

    looking forward to chatting.

    ps dont worry re kindle, i just ordered the paperback (how come some editions cost £101 !!?, i'm selling mine way to cheap - but it needs a better edit

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    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  19. MattMars Registered Member


    Hi Pad,
    to be clear, i have a very firm opinion about timelessness, but, to be scientific I am also open minded. I posted you a couple of replies about "On the Electrodynamics of moving bodies", i know a lot of people assume it is evidence of space-"time", but i think it may just show warped space, and rate dilation ( very different to 4d spacetime for reasons i explained ).

    I am familiar with a lot of forums on "time", e.g.

    > https://sites.google.com/site/abriefhistoryoftimelessness/home/time-forums-and-sites

    And have a lot of conversations like this, about it at my "timelessness" talks,

    one thing i have learnt is that they go round in circles, if people just 'state and defend' an opinion, without actually considering other points of view, and, another is that it can be very important if searching for a truth to check out what you hear for yourself.

    So can i ask have you read OEMB?
    > https://sites.google.com/site/abriefhistoryoftimelessness/special-relativity/on-the-electrodynamics-of-moving-bodies

    Only is needed for this part of the analysis, no maths ( except for a bit of Pythagoras ).

    Does that section make sense to you, or can you see what may be an observational oversight in Einstein's description of "time".

    ps , again so we dont go round in circles, could you post the simplest definition of "time" that you think is valid.

    also, i can incorporate the Big Bang into what I am suggesting, but it's important to consider our most basic observations initially.
    thanks mm
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  20. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    MattMars, I just realized that your profile pic is not just some random QR code!

    Anyway, quick question regarding your thoughts on time: do you believe there is a "now"? For example, given some definition of "existence", do you think that there is a special existence attributable to us now as opposed to humans at other points in history (past and future)?
  21. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    In my opinion, and in the opinion of many a lot smarter than I, time looks as though it exists, simply because it does exist.
    And, I have read a few of those books in your research list.

    Great stuff, and obviously why you are so adamant and enthusiastic re your opinion on time.
    Quite understandable with all the effort you have put in.
    But by the same token, other reputable professionals like Carroll and Smolin, see things differently. And likewise it is also understandable why blokes such as Smolin, who has also written a book, is just as enthusiastic and just as adamant about the existence of time.
    Which makes it that much harder for a lay person such as myself to work through the excess baggage and get down to the nitty gritty.
    I believe I have done that without fear nor favour.

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    Sure I have....and as a layman I need to sort out the wheat from the chaff from a myriad of "opinions" about relativity. And I believe I have done that rather successfully with help from a astronomer and a professional GR physicist on another forum in Australia...two very reputable blokes in whom I have a great deal of respect for.
    And of course all of us, you me and them, have all at one time or another, taken on faith and reputation, the opinions of others of reputable quality.

    I don't outright duplicate other people's conclusions. I read all I can, take into account many facts and form an opinion...In other words sorting the wheat from the chaff. eg: like claims by some that the speed of light is not a constant, or that time and light is seen to "stop" in all FoR's at a point on and just outside the EH of a BH. All obviously false claims.
    Again, we all at one time or another must take on faith what someone else has said or written.
    Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that.

    What Einstein has said, has been misquoted, misunderstood, and misinterpreted many times on this forum.
    The great man also said....
    "Time is an illusion: Albeit a stubborn one"

    Well, yes I am forced to agree that the existence or otherwise of time, is debatable, and I have said that a few times, but really, with all due respect, any confirmation bias could also reveal itself as a negative bias.
    And as I said, I understand perfectly well, that your enthusiasm and opinion on time, is naturally driven by your book.
    As an illustrative point of Interest, and as an avid supporter of the BB/Inflationary model of Universal evolution according to the observational evidence, I have also read a book entitled "The Big Bang Never Happened" by Eric J Lerner, to broaden my view on the evolution of the Universe, and with the help of the two professionals I mentioned earlier, was reasonably certain, most of the claims were just not observed or consistent with what we do know.
  22. MattMars Registered Member

    Hi FS, ps, here's what i posted ( so things dont get bifurcated )

    Hi farsight,
    Thanks for the link from "what is time?"
    Great post, and I very much agree with your principles, though I would go slightly further,

    You can read more about this stuff in A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein. It’s a book featuring philosophy and relativity and what Einstein and Godel used to talk about in Princeton. It doesn’t say time does not exist, it’s more like time exists like heat exists. And just as you can’t literally climb to a higher temperature, you can’t literally travel forward in time. Or backwards. No way, no how.
    We always seem to want to hold on to a last residue of 'time',

    "It doesn’t say time does not exist, it’s more like time exists like heat exists. "
    (E.g. Emergent)

    I would suggest, in fact, matter/energy seems to just exist, move change and interact. Period.

    And if that's all there is, then to be completely clear and logical, we should not then mix things up again, and describe this as "time".
    We should perhaps just leave it at that.

    Otherwise we get right to the point of clarifying things.... Then pollute our understanding again, by pulling in a word that has numerous implications that habitually spring back into the laypersons or scientists mind, inducing more opened speculation etc.

    IMO "time" seems to be nothing more that the undoubtedly very useful system of comparing examples of motion. Typically one example of simple regular motion (eg a hand specifically designed to rotate smoothly on a numbered dial) to more complex motion we are trying to understand, (e.g a ball accelerating down a ramp, or comet moving in the solar system).

    Speak to u on "what is time." Forum

    ps : V interested to read your book, found it on amazon, you can try my sample, but if you are interested please check out the youtubes,
    I wont keep pasting links, but search youtube for...
    it gives the best outline of all the areas of the possibility of timelessness that I'm proposing, and it is not "eternalism", "static block time" etc etc etc
  23. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    No I havn't, but rest assured I will when I have time. Thanks.

    My own view on time???
    In simple Occam's razor terminology, if we didn't have time, everything would happen together.
    In fact, if time didn't exist, the BB would not have happened, know that the BB was an evolution of space and time in the first instant.
    I asked a question earlier in the thread, Can some one show me, or illustrate to me a realistic world, a realm, a Universe, where time does not exist?

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