# The Nature of Time

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A Brief and Definitive Analysis of Time

Apology

The study of time does not require an expensive laboratory or a PhD. Duration is something that all sentient beings share and for the most part take for granted. Few have given it much thought and those who have, generally, have left the subject in more of a muddle than not. Unfortunately, since Einstein, there has been a growing trend to believe that time is a fundamental ingredient of the universe like matter and space. So, it has become fashionable to glibly talk about spacetime. I personally do not find this paste up word edifying. In fact, it is confusing and meaningless.

Definition

Time definitively is a measure. The same type of measure as the measure of space by a ruler. That is, an agreed upon portion of the real substance to be measured. An examination of a clock reveals that movement is the real quantity measured by time.  The heart of all clocks is a moving object be it the apparent movement of the sun across the sky, a pendulum, crystal or the vibration of cesium atoms. These movements are compared with the movement of the objects to be measured and the numbers on the clock face are used to calculate speed and to coordinate movements. In mathematics, engineering and science and indeed in our daily lives, if movement is to be measured or coordinated a clock must be used.

Movement

Movement is a third fundamental aspect of the universe. It is derived from the interaction of the two primary ingredients space and matter. Time does not exist until there is an intellect that finds it helpful to coordinate her movements. First using the sun and moon as clocks and gradually getting more sophisticated with mechanical and electrical instruments. For example, primitive man might send a message to an ally to meet at the hunting grounds when the sun is at the horizon or today we use our electric clocks to arrive at the doctor's office at the time of our appointment.

Personal Time

One of the reasons that an analysis of time has been problematic is that we all feel a personal flow of time but are unable to find its source. The reason for this is that our bodies have many internal clocks, but they are all subconscious. For example, heartbeat, breathing, elimination  and many other metabolic functions that keep time against the outer world but remain subconscious and therefor mysterious to our conscious minds.

Past, Present and Future

Other aspects of time that seem mysterious are the past, present and future because they are related to our personal feeling of the seeming flow of time. The past is our memory of previous presents. The present is what we are experiencing now via our metabolism, which is the movement of our lives, and the future is what we can plan using our memories and imaginations. Therefor, those aspects of time are totally related to our powers of mind.

Time as a Fundamental Ingredient of the Universe

Unfortunately, since the development of general relativity and the arbitrary tendency to graph the time parameter on a space dimension and then interpret it as a real part of the universe, is a fallacy. The behavior of the time coordinate is totally dependent on the changes to the real parameter that it is measuring, usually, the space coordinate in the direction of travel or the movement of gravitating masses. Our analysis of time as the measure of movement precludes it as a fundamental aspect of the universe. I challenge anyone, who still believes that time is a real part of the universe, to devise an experiment to reveal the stuff of time. Is it blue, liquid or solid and where does it exist?

I have done some research looking for an experiment that demonstrates what time is and failed to find even one attempt at proving that time is fundamental. This is because there is no measure that can show time as a thing.

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Unfortunately, since Einstein, there has been a growing trend to believe that time is a fundamental ingredient of the universe like matter and space.

This is a misunderstanding of Relativity, and probably where your frustration lies. Spacetime isn't a "thing" I can loan you a bushel of, it's the geometry we can apply to determine position within the universe when we observe various phenomena. Three spatial dimensions and a temporal dimension can describe any event anywhere. Just like, on Earth's surface, I can give you longitude, latitude, altitude, and time coordinates so we can have lunch together next week on the 24th floor of the Chrysler Building.

I'm not sure where all these people are who argue that time is a physical object. Can you cite some sources on this?

The thing is, when we use spacetime calculations to determine when to launch a rocket and hit something millions of miles away, it's extremely accurate. Thinking of space and time as an inseparable continuum allows us to predict the movements of massive bodies to an astonishing degree. Can you use your idea to calculate the height of a geosynchronous orbit?

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To add to Phi for All's excellent reply time is simply ratevof change. It is given dimensionality equivalence to length via the interval defined as (ct).

Spacetime is simply the geometry where particles reside. Space being simply the volume.

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2 hours ago, Phi for All said:

I'm not sure where all these people are who argue that time is a physical object.

Minkowski and modern physicists have argued that space-time qualifies as "geometry" in some way that extends beyond mere mathematical abstraction (or at least that it's just as physically meaningful as Euclidean space). Sean Carroll and Lee Smolin have both said the way to "explain" relativity is to "change your intuition." I take this to mean accepting space-time as geometry, which has traditionally been defined as the study of physical objects. The OP's comment may not be literally correct, but I think that's the gist of it (i.e. the intuition that motivates it).

Edited by Lorentz Jr
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Thankfully, mathematicians and physicists are well known for working with just the gist of things based upon intuition.

*

* The philosopher and pub located speculator were too far off to the left to get depicted on the spectrum

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6 minutes ago, iNow said:

mathematicians and physicists are well known for working with just the gist of things ...

... except when they're inventing new gists, which is what cults do. 😉

Edited by Lorentz Jr
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In all studies of sciences, I've never heard that time is a thing. Evidently, this part of the OP article is a straw man fallacy.

On the other hand, contrary to the OP article considering space and time together is not arbitrary but rather a necessity because space and time are related: what appears as time for one observer appears as space for another.

Another claim of the OP article is that any duration measurement necessarily measures a movement. This is not so as there are processes that have duration without a movement such as decay. This processes in principle can be used to measure time.

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Time definitively is a measure. The same type of measure as the measure of space by a ruler. That is, an agreed upon portion of the real substance to be measured.

What “substance” is measured with a ruler?

An examination of a clock reveals that movement is the real quantity measured by time.  The heart of all clocks is a moving object be it the apparent movement of the sun across the sky, a pendulum, crystal or the vibration of cesium atoms

What is vibrating in a cesium atom?

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I challenge anyone, who still believes that time is a real part of the universe, to devise an experiment to reveal the stuff of time. Is it blue, liquid or solid and where does it exist?
I have done some research looking for an experiment that demonstrates what time is and failed to find even one attempt at proving that time is fundamental. This is because there is no measure that can show time as a thing.

Me too.
I've done some research looking for an experiment that demonstrates what distance is and failed to find even one attempt at proving that distance is fundamental. This is because there is no measurethat can show distance as a thing.

x-posted with Swansont

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A Brief and Definitive Analysis of Time

Apology

The study of time does not require an expensive laboratory or a PhD. Duration is something that all sentient beings share and for the most part take for granted. Few have given it much thought and those who have, generally, have left the subject in more of a muddle than not. Unfortunately, since Einstein, there has been a growing trend to believe that time is a fundamental ingredient of the universe like matter and space. So, it has become fashionable to glibly talk about spacetime. I personally do not find this paste up word edifying. In fact, it is confusing and meaningless.

Definition

Time definitively is a measure. The same type of measure as the measure of space by a ruler. That is, an agreed upon portion of the real substance to be measured. An examination of a clock reveals that movement is the real quantity measured by time.  The heart of all clocks is a moving object be it the apparent movement of the sun across the sky, a pendulum, crystal or the vibration of cesium atoms. These movements are compared with the movement of the objects to be measured and the numbers on the clock face are used to calculate speed and to coordinate movements. In mathematics, engineering and science and indeed in our daily lives, if movement is to be measured or coordinated a clock must be used.

Movement

Movement is a third fundamental aspect of the universe. It is derived from the interaction of the two primary ingredients space and matter. Time does not exist until there is an intellect that finds it helpful to coordinate her movements. First using the sun and moon as clocks and gradually getting more sophisticated with mechanical and electrical instruments. For example, primitive man might send a message to an ally to meet at the hunting grounds when the sun is at the horizon or today we use our electric clocks to arrive at the doctor's office at the time of our appointment.

Personal Time

One of the reasons that an analysis of time has been problematic is that we all feel a personal flow of time but are unable to find its source. The reason for this is that our bodies have many internal clocks, but they are all subconscious. For example, heartbeat, breathing, elimination  and many other metabolic functions that keep time against the outer world but remain subconscious and therefor mysterious to our conscious minds.

Past, Present and Future

Other aspects of time that seem mysterious are the past, present and future because they are related to our personal feeling of the seeming flow of time. The past is our memory of previous presents. The present is what we are experiencing now via our metabolism, which is the movement of our lives, and the future is what we can plan using our memories and imaginations. Therefor, those aspects of time are totally related to our powers of mind.

Time as a Fundamental Ingredient of the Universe

Unfortunately, since the development of general relativity and the arbitrary tendency to graph the time parameter on a space dimension and then interpret it as a real part of the universe, is a fallacy. The behavior of the time coordinate is totally dependent on the changes to the real parameter that it is measuring, usually, the space coordinate in the direction of travel or the movement of gravitating masses. Our analysis of time as the measure of movement precludes it as a fundamental aspect of the universe. I challenge anyone, who still believes that time is a real part of the universe, to devise an experiment to reveal the stuff of time. Is it blue, liquid or solid and where does it exist?

I have done some research looking for an experiment that demonstrates what time is and failed to find even one attempt at proving that time is fundamental. This is because there is no measure that can show time as a thing.

It seems to me it is not movement that makes intervals of time useful to measure, but change. Motion involves change (of position), but not all change involves motion.

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31 minutes ago, exchemist said:

It seems to me it is not movement that makes intervals of time useful to measure, but change. Motion involves change (of position), but not all change involves motion.

Do you have radioactive decay in mind?

Any other examples?

Would it be useful to define "change" and how it is quantified?

Is it another way of saying "entropy"?

1 hour ago, iNow said:

* The philosopher and pub located speculator were too far off to the left to get depicted on the spectrum

Unless they were snowed under?

What appears as time for one observer appears as space for another

Does that just happen when frames move at relativistic  speeds  wrt each other or in intense gravitational  fields?

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I had in mind radioactive and particles decay. Another example of a non-positional change could be electron flipping spin in magnetic field.

That happens when frames move wrt each other at any speed, and in any strength gravitational field.

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I had in mind radioactive and particles decay. Another example of a non-positional change could be electron flipping spin in magnetic field.

That happens when frames move wrt each other at any speed, and in any strength gravitational field.

But it is only noticeable/quantifiable under those circumstances**  isn't it?(even though it does occur at any relative  speed or in the slightest gravitational  field)

**ie at relative speeds and in very strong gravitational  fields,

Edited by geordief
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It is noticeable and very well quantifiable in GPS, for example.

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Time does not exist until there is an intellect that finds it helpful to coordinate her movements.

The universe begs to differ.
Without time (in the sense that it is used in physics), gravity as we experience it could not exist - more specifically, there would be no gravity at all outside massive bodies, and gravity in the interior of mass-energy distributions would be very different, meaning there wouldn’t be stars and planets as we observe them.

to devise an experiment to reveal the stuff of time. Is it blue, liquid or solid and where does it exist?

Physics makes models that describe aspects of the universe around us, like a map; it doesn’t do ontological claims. So you are confusing the map with the territory. As such, no physicist ever claimed time or spacetime to be a “thing” in the sense you use it here; and neither are any of the other elements of our models, such as space, energy, momentum, charge, spin, mass, acceleration etc etc. They are simply descriptions of certain aspects of the world.

This does not mean, however, that time as it is used in physics isn’t necessary concept - it very much is, because if you were to take it out of our models, then you end up with something that is no longer a valid description of the world around us. And no, replacing time with some nebulous notion of “movement” will not fix this.

Unfortunately, since the development of general relativity and the arbitrary tendency to graph the time parameter on a space dimension and then interpret it as a real part of the universe, is a fallacy.

General Relativity works exceedingly well as a model of gravity - thus calling it a “fallacy” is completely meaningless. Once again, you are confusing the map with the territory.

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10 hours ago, geordief said:

Do you have radioactive decay in mind?

Any other examples?

Would it be useful to define "change" and how it is quantified?

Radioactive decay, chemical change, erosion etc. If you look a railway track that is out of service for 6 months and look at it at the start and end of that interval of time you will see the appearance has changed.  It seems a stretch to ascribe that change to movement - though at the atomic level there has been motion of oxygen atoms, I suppose.

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18 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Radioactive decay, chemical change, erosion etc. If you look a railway track that is out of service for 6 months and look at it at the start and end of that interval of time you will see the appearance has changed.  It seems a stretch to ascribe that change to movement - though at the atomic level there has been motion of oxygen atoms, I suppose.

It is easy to find examples of processes that involve evolution of states, but no “movement” of any kind. Consider muons - they are elementary particles with a mean lifetime on the order of $$10^{-6}s$$. As being elementary, they have no internal structure or “moving parts” of any kind; there’s nothing there that “moves” or even “changes” at all during their lifetime. And yet, they decay after a statistically well defined amount of time. So here you have got an example of an interval of time without “movement”; it’s an evolution of states without motion of constituent parts.

Edited by Markus Hanke
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1 hour ago, Markus Hanke said:

or even “changes

What happens when  muons  decay?Do they  not lose  mass with each particle they emit?

If so ,is that not change?

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16 minutes ago, geordief said:

What happens when  muons  decay?Do they  not lose  mass with each particle they emit?

If so ,is that not change?

They change when they decay, but there are no:

1 hour ago, Markus Hanke said:

“changes” at all during their lifetime

PS. When muon decays there is no muon anymore.

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They change when they decay, but there are no:(as per Markus' quote) “changes” at all during their lifetime

They don't lose a small amount of mass every time they decay? Does the mass of the muon somehow remain the same even though it is continuously losing mass to the environment? (if indeed it is)

Is it because the mass is relativistic?

Edited by geordief
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Muon decay is not an emission of particles from muon. Rather the muon disappears, and other particles appear. Here is the diagram:

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Muon decay is not an emission of particles from muon. Rather the muon disappears, and other particles appear. Here is the diagram:

Ah,now I think I understand Markus' point

From the muon's perspective  no time passes ?

The decay  is spontaneous  and randomly timed from an observer's frame?

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I don't see the point of making expansive claims about things we can't see and hardly understand. Who knows what happens internally during particle interactions? Don't QFT calculations involve integrals over sets of physical trajectories?

Edited by Lorentz Jr
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49 minutes ago, Lorentz Jr said:

I don't see the point of making expansive claims about things we can't see and hardly understand.

The point wasn’t the decay process itself - rather, my point was that a well-defined period of time elapses between the creation of the muon and its decay, and that there is no “movement” of any constituent mechanism happening during that time, since it is an elementary particle.

1 hour ago, Lorentz Jr said:

Who knows what happens internally during particle interactions?

In the case of muons - nothing, because they are elementary particles without any “internal” mechanisms.

1 hour ago, Lorentz Jr said:

Don't QFT calculations involve integrals over sets of physical trajectories?

Do you mean in the path integral formulation? If so, then no, the trajectories involved here are not in physical spacetime, but in the quantum system’s phase space; the path integral is a functional that returns a probability amplitude.

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7 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

Without time (in the sense that it is used in physics), gravity as we experience it could not exist

Gravity does exist regardless on how we define or understand time.

7 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

Physics makes models that describe aspects of the universe around us, like a map

Good point. Once (in this sub-forum, in august 2018) I wrote that space-time is a like a 4-D map of a 3-D reality, not entirely different than a 2-D paper map we used when travelling.

In this sub-forum, called "Speculations", we often see how people with not enough knowledge/information tend to make inadequate, poor, sometimes even stupid theories or assertions (it happened to me many times, so I know first hand 😃).

Well, Einstein and the others, more than 100 years ago, did not know many, many things (dark matter, dark energy, etc.), compared to what we know today, so we should not be surprised that their theory may soon be proved inadequate and their understanding wrong. I have (and posted here) a new interpretation of the theory of relativity, based on dark matter, and although it agrees with Einstein's relativity predictions, it makes also predictions that differ, so one of the theory/understanding can be proved wrong ... When I'll have the time I'll come back, in my topic, with details. It's not big rush because my experimental tests imply atomic clocks on the Moon and/or beyond.

Edited by DanMP

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