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What is the simplest definition of time?


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How can be time defined in the simplest way? According to my theory, time can be defined as 'change' in any form, any place in the universe. Any type of change in the real universe is called time. It can be changing of state, shape, size, color, temperature, force applied or the place etc.

 

So we can say that if there no change in the universe, there is no time in the universe. Because time is the 4th dimension, so if time is not there, the whole universe becomes 3 dimensional. Then the universe will stay like a paused video if there is no time. Can you prove it is not?

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How can be time defined in the simplest way? According to my theory, time can be defined as 'change' in any form, any place in the universe. Any type of change in the real universe is called time. It can be changing of state, shape, size, color, temperature, force applied or the place etc.

 

So we can say that if there no change in the universe, there is no time in the universe. Because time is the 4th dimension, so if time is not there, the whole universe becomes 3 dimensional. Then the universe will stay like a paused video if there is no time. Can you prove it is not?

You've got it! "An interval of change" is the simplest explanation of time. Physics has different factions to it and because of that different ideas concerning what time really is. Yours, I believe, is by far the simplest and best definition/ understanding of the fundamentals of what time really is :)

//

Edited by pantheory
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How can be time defined in the simplest way? According to my theory, time can be defined as 'change' in any form, any place in the universe. Any type of change in the real universe is called time. It can be changing of state, shape, size, color, temperature, force applied or the place etc.

 

So we can say that if there no change in the universe, there is no time in the universe. Because time is the 4th dimension, so if time is not there, the whole universe becomes 3 dimensional. Then the universe will stay like a paused video if there is no time. Can you prove it is not?

Any transfer of information across distance requires time (with a lower limited determined by c).

The acceptance or use of any received information could probably be described by definition as a "change". For example, without time, light cannot propagate... nothing in the universe can be observed or interacted with.

 

"What is the existence of something besides whatever information can be received from it (ie. what effect it has on others)?" is a question I don't think I could answer, which for me means that I wouldn't know what a "paused video game" universe would be (if anything at all!). Also, the lack of a tenable concept of a "universal instant" further complicates the idea of a universal paused state. What observer's instant would it be that everything is paused in? Would the state necessarily be different for different observer locations? This is not classical physics however.

 

 

I think if you remove "change", a lot of other things become undefined. Also, I think it's possible to remove time without removing "change" simply by allowing causal relations without distance (like if you removed time and distance at the same time).

 

I don't think my answer can be considered "accepted science", sorry.

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How can be time defined in the simplest way? According to my theory, time can be defined as 'change' in any form, any place in the universe. Any type of change in the real universe is called time. It can be changing of state, shape, size, color, temperature, force applied or the place etc.
Here's something I wrote down a while back:

 

Time exists like heat exists, being an emergent property of motion. It's a cumulative measure of motion used in the relative measure of motion compared to the motion of light, and the only motion is through space. So time has no length, time doesn't flow, and we don't travel through it.

 

I used the word motion rather than change, but it's the same general idea. And it isn't something new. Actually it dates back a couple of thousand years, have a google on it. Also check out presentism and A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein and Time is Change by Amrit Sorli. Here's a snippet from the latter:

 

The doubt that "space-time" is the ultimate arena of the universe was raised by Dirac and recently by Julian Barbour: "On a beautiful October afternoon in 1936 I ravelled to the Bavarian Alps with a student friend, Jurgen. We planned to spend the night in a hut and climb to the peak of Watzmann at down next day. On the train, I read an article about Dirac's attempt to unify Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum theory. A single sentence in it was to transform my life: "This result has let me to doubt how fundamental the four-dimensional requirement in physics is". In other words Dirac was doubting that most wonderful creation of twentieth-century physics: the fusion of space and time into space-time."(6)

 

So we can say that if there no change in the universe, there is no time in the universe. Because time is the 4th dimension, so if time is not there, the whole universe becomes 3 dimensional. Then the universe will stay like a paused video if there is no time.
Agreed.

 

Can you prove it is not?
Nobody can, Raja. But celebrity "physicists" will doubtless carry on talking about time travel and similar woo.
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!

Moderator Note

This thread is in the mainstream science forum. Farsight, you know this already, keep alternative speculations OUTSIDE of the mainstream science threads. Open a thread in the Speculation forum and discuss as you please. Stop hijacking threads and stay on topic, and on mainstream science.

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Time is the phase of an oscillation. That's more of a functional definition; if you want to discuss the "essence" of time, that's metaphysics.

Time exists like heat exists, being an emergent property of motion. It's a cumulative measure of motion used in the relative measure of motion compared to the motion of light, and the only motion is through space. So time has no length, time doesn't flow, and we don't travel through it.

An oscillation is a "regular fluctuation".

There is an inherent metric relating the different phases, or relating repetitions of the same phase (because of the regularity).

So time definitively has a length.

 

The phase of an oscillation is not absolutely meaningful; it only has meaning relative to other phases in the oscillation (otherwise it'd be just a state, not really a phase?).

So I'd say that time's length essentially defines time. Time is a measure of length between events -- but since I don't know how to separate the spatial aspects of length from the temporal ones, I couldn't give a proper definition.

 

But anyway, I think we could give several definitions of time that could be equivalent. Some of them conceptually simpler than others. Time defined as a length would require some oscillation to define the metric (such as light waves or caesium quantum transitions), so I guess it would not be functionally simpler.

 

 

Edit: Upon further thought: Perhaps "time is the length between events occurring at the same spatial location". Remote events can be described in terms of information being received from that event, and the reception of that information can be considered a separate event. I defer to the experts however.

 

 

"This result has let me to doubt how fundamental the four-dimensional requirement in physics is". In other words Dirac was doubting that most wonderful creation of twentieth-century physics: the fusion of space and time into space-time."(6)

I disagree with the quoted interpretation of the quoted quote. Assuming that Dirac means that space and time are not intertwingled means that Sorli is assuming that 3 spatial dimensions are a requirement in physics. Another interpretation is that neither time nor distance are fundamental (they could both be emergent, as some conjecture), however they are still pretty mixed up together as relativity has proven.

Edited by md65536
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md65536,

 

..Upon further thought: Perhaps "time is the length between events occurring at the same spatial location".

Your definition is good. Time as a length can be described as the length of an interval between two time frames in the same location. An extended definition might be:

 

Time is a relative measurement of an interval of change that has occurred between two time frames, as calculated, or compared with the changes that have occurred within an elapsed-time measurement device and standard (such as a second, day, year, etc.).

..

 

Edited by pantheory
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Your definition is good. Time as a length can be described as the length of an interval between two time frames in the same location. An extended definition might be:

 

Time is a relative measurement of an interval of change that has occurred between two time frames, as calculated, or compared with the changes that have occurred within an elapsed-time measurement device and standard (such as a second, day, year, etc.).

Thanks.

 

An oscillation is cyclic, which means that it will return to the same state again. The timing of one cycle of a clock is well-defined but doesn't require a net change. I suppose time can't be defined without some "difference" between two points in time (whether it involves a continuous change or whether it involves a static measure such as the spatial difference between 2 points). Since the difference between two reference points in time can result in no change, I don't think that "change" is quite the essence of time, at least not on a small scale...

 

 

 

But then again, since an oscillation repeats, you'd need to distinguish between similar phases, such as by counting the cycles. On a larger scale or with more complexity, time may be a measurement involving change... though "entropy" seems a more appropriate word.

 

The important thing I think is that it's not a measure of the amount of change itself, but rather a measure based on the regularity with which a reference (a clock or a timing process) oscillates.

 

 

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md65536,

 

Since the difference between two reference points in time can result in no change, I don't think that "change" is quite the essence of time, at least not on a small scale...

It would seem that there will always be changes between any two time frames based upon the definition of a "time frame." Proton spin is at a rate (if I remember correctly) 10^22 cps, concerning showing the same face to an observer every other spin. This can also be an ideal type of time measurement device. Accordingly everything either has spin or changes its relative condition/ position defining a time interval, therefore two different time frames requires by definition that changes have taken place. s Any time frame must include the surrounding ZPF which also has ever continuous changes to it such as trillions of neutrinos passing through it every second.

 

But then again, since an oscillation repeats, you'd need to distinguish between similar phases, such as by counting the cycles. On a larger scale or with more complexity, time may be a measurement involving change... though "entropy" seems a more appropriate word.

Changes of entropy are as valid as any other change for describing a time interval, but changes in entropy cannot be used as a measurement device concerning an exact time quantity, seemingly only an estimate of time can be made.

 

The important thing I think is that it's not a measure of the amount of change itself, but rather a measure based on the regularity with which a reference (a clock or a timing process) oscillates.

I agree. Oscillations are one manner of counting time; Rotation/ spin is another, flow rates are another (such as a water clocks or a sand glass), pendulum swings (as in a grandfather clock) etc. Each clock device must also have a counting mechanism.

 

The concept involved is: As matter and energy have existence, so must their state of existence continually change: hence time.

 

Please pardon me if my idea is wrong, because i'm only 14 years old.

Out of the mouth of babes can come the most profound questions.

 

Your idea is not wrong. In my opinion the simplest explanation of time concerns the changes that have occurred during an interval of existence. Time and change can accordingly be equated :)

..

Edited by pantheory
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  • 2 months later...

How can be time defined in the simplest way? According to my theory, time can be defined as 'change' in any form, any place in the universe. Any type of change in the real universe is called time. It can be changing of state, shape, size, color, temperature, force applied or the place etc.

 

So we can say that if there no change in the universe, there is no time in the universe. Because time is the 4th dimension, so if time is not there, the whole universe becomes 3 dimensional. Then the universe will stay like a paused video if there is no time. Can you prove it is not?

 

 

The simplest definition of time is the physical universe which begins as a thermodynamic arrow of time.

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If they're points in space, yes.

If they're points in time, no.

If they're events it could be a spacetime interval which I believe can be decomposed into a spatial and a temporal component.

 

 

 

The question was 'what is the simplest definition of time'. It seems this is an insufficient definition if it has so many interpretations?....

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The question was 'what is the simplest definition of time'. It seems this is an insufficient definition if it has so many interpretations?....

 

the simpler definition you get, usually the more general. it can be interpreted many ways.

 

 

a naked mole rat > rat > mammal

 

a mammal can be used to describe many specific species.

 

tom hanks > man > useless

 

again, useless can be used to describe many things.

 

just as A to B can be used to describe many different things.

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the simpler definition you get, usually the more general. it can be interpreted many ways.

 

 

a naked mole rat > rat > mammal

 

a mammal can be used to describe many specific species.

 

tom hanks > man > useless

 

again, useless can be used to describe many things.

 

just as A to B can be used to describe many different things.

 

Sure, but at some point a definition is so simplistic it's irrelevant. A definition should be simple and explain the meaning of the word it defines. If it's too simple to do the latter, it's not very useful.

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The question was 'what is the simplest definition of time'. It seems this is an insufficient definition if it has so many interpretations?....

It would be insufficient even if it wasn't left up to interpretation. As in, "time is the difference between two points in time" or "time is the progression from one point in time to another" or something.

 

"A to B" would leave time still undefined even if it was clarified that it was referring to times. If we allow such meaningless cyclical definitions, then the simplest (non)definition would be "time is time." Either way you'd need time to be predefined for the statement to have meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

On the other hand it could be interpreted in different ways that already have predefined meaning, such as "Time is the distance between two events". I don't think this definition would correspond to other accepted definitions, such as "Time is what clocks measure".

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You're confusing the definition with the word. Mammal isn't the definition, "A warm-blooded vertebrate animal of a class that is distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, the secretion of milk by females for the nourishment of the young, and (typically) the birth of live young" is one proposed definition.

(source)

A definition should make the word clear. If you tell a child "Mammal" and the child has no clue what that is, that won't help him or her understand. The definition would.

There are quite a number of words that have controversial definitions, or hard to define ones, but the definition can't be a single word, really, especially not something like "A to B" for time. It explains nothing.

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I disagree with the OP

 

 

So we can say that if there no change in the universe, there is no time in the universe. Because time is the 4th dimension, so if time is not there, the whole universe becomes 3 dimensional. Then the universe will stay like a paused video if there is no time. Can you prove it is not?

 

It is based on the false intuition that distance, the simplest feature of space, is free of time. It is not.

Distance cannot exist whithout time. If distance could exist as a pure timeless entity, then any relation "at a distance" could occur whithout time, and we know that it is not physically allowed. You cannot draw a circle on a sheet of paper whithout time. The internal geometrical relations of a circle, like Pi R^2, contain time, although intuition tells us otherwise.

 

To me, Time is not only linked to distance & space. Time is fundamentally linked to gravity.

Time is so fundamental that nothing can exist without it.

Or to say it otherwise, physical existence is the fundamental source of time.

IMHO of course.

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You're confusing the definition with the word. Mammal isn't the definition, "A warm-blooded vertebrate animal of a class that is distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, the secretion of milk by females for the nourishment of the young, and (typically) the birth of live young" is one proposed definition.

(source)

A definition should make the word clear. If you tell a child "Mammal" and the child has no clue what that is, that won't help him or her understand. The definition would.

 

There are quite a number of words that have controversial definitions, or hard to define ones, but the definition can't be a single word, really, especially not something like "A to B" for time. It explains nothing.

 

 

In physics, it says time is defined by it's measurement.

 

 

If time is the word, I'll use a clock to define it.

 

Clock; "a device other than a watch for indicating or measuring time commonly by means of hands moving on a dialect"

If we use the common idea of a clock with hands on a face, it measures from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 or whatever...

1 to 2, can be described as A to B.... it just measures a change.

A clock displays this change, defining time.

This simple A to B seems a satisfactory way of describing time, to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The person asking this question wanted the simplest definition of time, not the most clear in the eyes of a child.

 

If they wanted the simplest definition of the word "naked mole rat" I would give them;

 

"A warm-blooded vertebrate animal of a class" aka mammal

 

rather than "A rodent (Rattus and other genera, family Muridae) that resembles a large mouse" aka rat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So seeing that this question was posted in the Physics section, I defined time according to the realm of physics, leaving no room for any controversial definitions, and concluded that A to B would seem an accurate, simple way of defining time.

Edited by Appolinaria
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How can be time defined in the simplest way? According to my theory, time can be defined as 'change' in any form, any place in the universe. Any type of change in the real universe is called time. It can be changing of state, shape, size, color, temperature, force applied or the place etc.

 

So we can say that if there no change in the universe, there is no time in the universe. Because time is the 4th dimension, so if time is not there, the whole universe becomes 3 dimensional. Then the universe will stay like a paused video if there is no time. Can you prove it is not?

 

It stops everything happening all at once

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