What is "time"

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

  1. quantum_wave Contemplating the "as yet" unknown Valued Senior Member

    That is quite practical, suggesting we think about the definition, and being careful not to get off on the wrong direction by assuming a thing called time exists. I'm not surprised that people get it wrong, what with all of the conditioning we get as individuals as we grow up; our schedules, or daily habits, our fascination with clocks and watches when we are young, our admonitions not to be "late",etc.

    But I don't think you are approaching the subject with adequate appreciation for what a human individual is in terms of functionality. My point is that although the now is the only moment we are ever in, and so one can claim that time does not pass in the now, we humans have internal equipment to remember past "nows", and can therefore establish our own means of orderliness in how we associate the memories of past nows. That orderliness for me is best accomplished by considering the "nows" that I remember has having a timeline that is often referred to as a continuum of nows. With that timeline of past nows, I, as an individual, can manage and use my memories of the past to benefit me in the current now.
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  3. Farsight

    I'm afraid it isn't. I hand hold my hands up a foot apart and show you the gap, the space, between them. And I can waggle my hands to show you motion. Then I can make a fist and punch you to show you matter and kinetic energy, and when you fall down you appreciate that gravity is real. All these things are empirical, they're real. But time isn't in the same league. You can show me a clock, but all you're showing me is something moving. You just can't show me time.

    No it isn't. This isn't sound observation, this is rubbish. A concentration of energy causes gravity, matter only causes gravity because it is a concentration of energy. A gravitational field is a place where space is inhomogeneous. Where space is homogeneous there is no gravitational field, even though there's vacuum energy. Spacetime is not space, it's a mathematical abstraction which models all times, so there is no motion in spacetime. We live in a world of space and motion, not in a static block universe.

    I hate to break it to you, but at least two of these guys are quacks who peddle pseudoscience tosh in order to sell popscience books.[/QUOTE]
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
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  5. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

    interesting you said this

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    and who are the two who are promoting their books while posting on this topic ?
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  7. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    Of course, anyone with a clock can show time. What is fascinating is the claim that someone can show motion without showing time.

    Even if we say that time is merely a change of state, by showing motion we demonstrate change of state, so we demonstrate time. The classical definition for motion is change of position over time.

    Then we face the problem that we can't merely reduce time to change of state, since we really do require it to coordinate events when we come to both SR and GR. This doesn't necessarily mean that we have to grant some separate existence for space and time other than the relationships between existing objects, but it does mean that there is an important sense in which the relationship of cause and effect between objects is one which requires us to consider space, time, and the relationships between them.
    Well, there's a pot-kettle-black moment. Especially from someone who can't do any physics with "inhomogeneous space" while those authors have demonstrably done physics, a lot of physics.
  8. Landau Roof Registered Senior Member


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  9. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    While it may be that, for any specific application, what we care about is that event where two specific properties are correlated in a specific fashion, this does not change the fact that all things are coordinated in time. Nor does it change the fact that the the currently reigning theory of the relationship of events requires us to make claims about the way that time behaves as a coordinator of events.
  10. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    Well that is a whole bunch of funny!
  11. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

    I see what you're saying, but rather than discuss the molecules of dinosaurs and dodos shifting and dispersing we could talk about specific events, because those would be definitive and not subject to "change". It's easy to say that a specific event (say, a meteorite crashing into a planet) is occurring locally, but do you believe there is any objective meaning to the claim that an event "is occurring" remotely?
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    No problem with time coordinates - I use them. Soon will have another birthday but don't tell the coordinate number. That number is an index - that number coordinates 1 to 1 with the number of trips around the sun I have made. That "trip count" is "real" an observable. Time is not.
    That "requires" is simply false! Post 28 tells you how to describe everything / all real events & processes / in the universe without ANY mention of time.

    I do there admit describing things without mention of time, t - describing one observable in terms of other observables(s) - is more complex than decoupling these pairs of observable via the fiction of time. I.e. using a time coordinate for each separately.

    For example the location of a ball dropped from 100m above earth's surface is h(t) = 100 - {Gt^2} /2
    but that t could be replaced by n where n is the number of full cycle swings of a pendulum that is 0.994 meters long allowed to start swinging as the ball is released.

    That is actually what we mean by "t seconds" as time does not pass, does not grow, does not anything, as does not exist. We can only count the swings or vibration of the crystal in your TimeX watch. We can only correlate two observables (neither of which is the unobservable "time")
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 13, 2014
  13. wellwisher Banned Banned

    One way to begin to define time, is simply to factor out time, to see what happens. From this change, we can infer at least some of what time does.

    A simple experiment involves, photography, where we take a snap shot photo of a dynamic scene, where we have changes of state and position that reflect the impact of time. The time in the photo has stop, thereby factoring out the impact of time. Looking at the picture, we still see 3-D space. We still see the lighting in the picture. We still can infer the substance of objects by how the light reflects off.

    In terms of action, nothing changes in terms of position, or in terms of state changes within the substances. As far as motion, nothing is moving. However, we can infer aspects of the original motion, before the snap shot, from any motion blur that is left in the picture. Motion blur occurs when the speed of the motion occurs faster than the shutter speed or the speed at which we stop time to in the photo.

    The motion blue is connected to a time difference, being expressed, with time stopped, appearing as an uncertainty in position; blur. The blur or uncertainty in position, gives the impression of motion, but does so without time. This suggests time and space are sort of interchangeable at some level.

    This last observation, sort of implies that time has dimensions. At 0-D time; a point in time, such as in the photo, we can still have uncertainty in space. This uncertainty in space, makes the energy reflection, substances and phases, uncertain in position, as though something is changing in time, but without time.

    From this simple experiment, I sort of see the universe before time, as a fuzzy disturbance in space; motion blur, where the point is not yet certain in space, since time is zero. A semblance of time or 0-D time appears, before time, through uncertainty in position.

    In terms of a photography analogy, the shutter speed of each quantum snap shot, is slowly approaching the speed of the action, until in the final shot, these two speeds match such that the clarity of the singularity appears in space and time; time=o+. This sort of would look like an Heisenberg Uncertainty Field, coming into focus, so position and momentum can be defined together as a point in space-time. Now there is 1-D time; timeline.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  14. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    You are confusing "coordinate", to organize together, with "coordinate", an assignation of numbers in order to locate.
    In a classical sense, for a limited number of defined processes. If we accept SR and GR, then we have to accept a theory in which one of the elements is that the timing of physical processes and the way that this changes.
    Observables alone do not make science.
  15. Farsight

    No you can't. You can show me a clock. You can show me cogs whirring, you can show me things moving, but you can't show me time.

    No, what's fascinating is the way people cling to conviction event when there's no evidence for it.

    When you demonstrate motion you demonstrate motion, not something else.

    Sure. And when we do, we appreciate that time it isn't something you can literally travel through, and isn't something that literally flows or passes. Then when we see an optical clock going slower when its lower we don't then claim that this is because time is passing slower.

    I demonstrated that adequately enough, and referred to Einstein. As for pots and kettles, it isn't me who says the universe is made of mathematics.
  16. Motor Daddy Valued Senior Member


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    At t=0 I stomped on it.
    At t=2.057 seconds I was at the 60 foot point.
    At t=5.546 seconds I was at the 330 foot point.
    At t=8.382 seconds I was at the 1/8th mile point.
    At t=10.799 seconds I was at the 1,000 foot point.
    At t=12.84 seconds I was at the 1/4 mile point.

    In a duration of 12.84 seconds of TIME (as measured by a timer) I traveled 1/4 mile of distance.

    I just showed you time! There is no other way to talk about elapsed time. You talk about what already happened and was measured. The past was measured time. 12.84 seconds of time.
  17. Farsight

    You're showing me a bit of paper. And you moved your foot when you stomped on the gas, whereupon petrol moved to the engine and the cylinders moved along with the crank and the transmission and the wheels and the drag racer itself, whilst cogs in mechanical clocks and electrons in electronic clocks moved. Then a print head moved across the paper, and ink moved onto the paper, and so on.
  18. Motor Daddy Valued Senior Member

    The guy in the stands ate a hot dog too, but the elapsed time was 12.84 seconds. It was measured. It happened, deal with it!

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  19. MattMars Registered Member

    HI RJ,

    re: do you believe there is any objective meaning to the claim that an event "is occurring" remotely?

    yes. I fully understand the essence of the theory of time, (and how useful it is), but what i am suggesting is we test that theory ( becasue it relies on so many poorly defined conjectured unobservables e.g. 'the' past, 'the' future)

    Anyone adhering to time might basically agree,

    A - things exist, move, and interact 'over time'.

    so they seem to agree at least, that,

    things exist, move and interact.

    so im proposing that perhaps,

    B - things may just exist, move and interact. i.e. Not heading into a future, or leaving a past behind, or as a thing called time passes ( or any variation of those)

    So what i am suggesting is we check our observations, and see how A concurs with reality, and how B concurs.

    And i would suggest if we look at the world as if A is correct,(time exists) then it would indeed concur. But
    if we look at the world as if B is correct, that would also seem to concur.

    the problem is that B is the simpler option, and it does not rely on unobservables ( past/ future etc). we certainly have the 'idea' of a past etc, and we certainly have patterns in our minds we call "memories of the past , (or past 'nows', as you put it elsewhere) - but these are I think, provably only physically in our minds, 'now'.

    Hence someone who physically looses chunks of their brain, may physically loose access to what they think is evidence of the existence of a temporal past.

    if we conclude our 'memories' are not just like footprints in mud, i.e. just the result of exiting matter(/energy) moving and interacting, changing some of the formation of stuff here now, where it is interacting. then to be scientific we need an experiment as per the scientific method to produce scientific evidence that this "past" does indeed exist , and is not just a conclusion we have jumped to.

    so re do you believe there is any objective meaning to the claim that an event "is occurring" remotely?,

    i dont see any reason to assume things are not existing, moving and interacting remotely. hence i can play a game of tennis over a court, or skype someone i believe to be 100 miles away.

    and this is very much my point. i suggest we start from considering what we actually seem to directly observe, and build from there. I f i were to try and understand the world from the position that what i actually observe, and, invisible poltergeists, exist, then i would never be able to disprove their existence, and i may mix up the idea and use it to explain other things i observe but dont understand.

    so what i am suggesting it that we actually, and carefully consider the possibility, that perhaps everything is just how it seems. just a whole load of stuff interacting everywhere.

    And there are no different nows, but the universe may just be filled with matter everywhere, doing something, and this may mislead us into thinking there is a past, future and time flowing, if we dont carefully understand what the simple 'mechanics' (electrochemical interactions etc) that can be making us reorganise some formation of matter ( here now) in our minds, (that we call 'memories of the past' ).

    Special Relativity indeed shows that if we both flip "hour glasses", and I rush towards you at great speed, everything about me will be changing at a different rate to you, and my sand will be falling more slowly. and where we meet there will less sand at the bottom of the device. But observation would suggest that every bit of you, me , and our sand etc, is always just somewhere doing something at various rates, and there seems no evidence that i may be 'slipping into a past now', or you may be surging ahead of me in a thing called 'time'.

    so perhaps, its all just here changing, 'time' being a very useful way of comparing examples of motion, and SR showing us something unexpected about intrinsic rates of change do the the 'c' limit...
    but all just here, and 'now' to use a thus unnecessary (leading) term ( if there is only 'now').

    the important thing to do is to consider the possibility ( things may just exist and interact ),

    but most people, no matter how carefully you suggest this, do not consider the possibility, but instead only defend the idea of time, which whether time exists or not, it still a one sided, dare i say dogmatic, and unscientific approach ( to be scientific i think we have to not only try to support out theories but all so try to test them to destruction).


    ps i posted this elsewhere but its a vid i found that demonstrates how we may acquire and defend confirmation bias, while being oblivious to this
    ( i mention it, becasue i think that although all we ever see is 'this now', we seem to jump to the assumption that the idea of other nows, may be by 'default' more likely, )
    its worth a look
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  20. PhysBang Valued Senior Member

    And how can you show motion? You have never satisfactorily answered this question other than to say your claim again. How does one tell the difference between something in motion and something at rest?
    Yes, you demonstrate that very well, since you claim that gravity is "inhomogeneous space" yet you can't do a single application in gravitational physics with "inhomogeneous space" or with anything else, for that matter.

    Of course we don't. It is only after studying a great number of things, developing a detailed theory, and then producing a lot of very specific evidence for the theory that this conclusion is warranted. Farsight, you have never presented evidence for your ideas; you only point out observations. Science is about taking those observations and inferring some sort of sense regarding the coordination and operation of physical events in a general sense.

    Yes, we all know that you can cut and paste, take quotations out of context, and stubbornly refuse to read all of Einstein or to learn how to do the mathematics that Einstein used.

    I don't say that either. I merely require that when people evaluate theories that are mathematical that they not completely ignore that mathematics.
  21. MattMars Registered Member

    hi Motor,

    i like your experiment, but can i suggest you look at it in two different ways and compare them.

    A - consider that things exist, move, and interact 'over time'.

    B - consider how things may just exist, move and interact. i.e. Not heading into a future, or leaving a past behind, or as a thing called time passes ( or any variation of those)

    in case B, consider that the stuff that make up you, the car, the machine, the paper and the ink, all, always exist. and all of those things are always doing something, somewhere, in relation to themselves and everything else.
    (even in relation to the stuff that makes up me, and my pc, here in london).

    your experiment proves stuff exists, and can interact very clearly ( e.g. a print head hitting paper), and thus that stuff can change be changing the formation of other stuff etc.
    but from that, the question is, as all this stuff is existing and interacting in different ways in different places ( or not), can we conclude that there there is a record of all events, also created and stored by a thing called "time", in a plce called "the past"?

    i.e. i know we casually talk about some thing called "the past", but can we sow that it really is being created and exists ?

    if not, and if we have no reason to really say there is a past, then perhaps we actually have no foundation for thinking that as well as your car moving or not, there is also a thing called time passing.

    i.e. there's no point 'arguing' the situation, things must be as they are, and the best we can do it try to work what the observable facts actually do, and do not really prove.

    so, imo, its worth considering time exists, but to be balanced we should also very carefully consider that perhaps "things may just exist, move and interact. i.e. Not heading into a future, or leaving a past behind"

    if anyone only tests one possibility, (like someone who believes in astrology, or that the world is flat etc), then that is typically all they will see. but a scientist checked that which they may not even think must be the case.

    imo, mm
    ∆-Not 'Taking Time' to move.
  22. MattMars Registered Member

    Hey thanks FS,
    yes its a tricky possibility to explain, (i tell people its a bit like walking a greased tightrope, up hill, in a storm , with a crowd that wants you to fail

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    ) i realised that as i decided to start writing, that's also why i thought it might be worth doing, and where the value in the project might lay.

    ill be in touch, just reading the amazon preview, very interesting.

    Ps check out the 2 4 8 video above, the conclusion at the end is very poignant to the discussion, and logic being applied in this discussion re only asking/trying to confirm, "what 'is' time"
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  23. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    No need to be afraid Farsight. Some of those scientists I do not know, but others are far more reputable then yourself. The others at least still align with accepted mainstream science, and I don't believe any of them peppered their Interviews with the fairy tale that you are forever peppering us with.
    But we wont go into those insidiously erroneous concepts here again will we?

    On the subject in hand, time is as obvious as the nose on your face. If we had no time you would not have had the "time" for your nose to develop or even your face for that matter.

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