"The future ain't what it used to be."

The Nature of Time


What is time?

This question is fundamental to the quest of this bulletin board. If we don't know what time is, how can we traverse it?

The question has been raised time and time again in any number of arenas, with no ultimate resolution. Can we do better?

Please, no spiritual or metaphysical interpretations - however interesting they are, they won't help us on a basic, physical level. Math is welcome - I'd be interested to see what physics has come up with to date.

So, on with the show.

We know the rate of time experienced by an observer depends on their velocity. But is this time an entity by itself, or the sum of the effects of other forces, etc.? People say time is a 'dimension' of its own. What are the differences between a temporal and a spatial dimension? What would the experience of time be like if there were more than one temporal dimension?

A lot of questions, focused around a single topic. I look forward to the discussion.
Hi Janus this is a very good topic in fact it is the only topic that will lead to a complete understanding of time. I am writing a paper on the nature of time and I am looking foward to seeing if anyone gets close to my own thoughts about time.

I hope you change your mind and continue to respond to the other post. In the absents of truth people will belive anything! Your thoughts can be a valuable part of finding the truth.
We must also take into account that we are measuring time according to our life spans. To an insect one day takes 50 years. To a an asteroid a day is 10,000 years. Time is our personal perception and does not really exist without us.
"What is time; does time exist (objectivly) or is it a subjective construct?"

The tricky word in the above sentence is "exist" rather than "time". What does it mean to EXIST? Take a tree for example (trees always make a good example) the nature of a tree is defined by how it is experianced by other entities. It is a different thing to different creatures. To an elephant it may be a back scratcher, to a beetle it may be lunch. The same principle can be applied to a thing/nonthing called time. If anything exists it must exist AS a set of properties AS measured by a non-objective observer.

Does gravity exist? Does inertia exist? Do emotions exist? If I hit the delete button does this posting continue to exist in a "past world"? Here is a good one: Does space exist? If you define space as a void then it is voided i.e. not existant.

How about this as a paradox: "Nothing Exists". Any existance can only be proved in relation to other givens. It is all relative. Time is a measure of the relavence of one speed to another. This is what James Clerk Maxwell was talking about when he saitd "There is nothing real in the universe save for mathmatical points of reference."

Reality is constructed in the mind as hieght, depth, voulme, speed. hardness, temperature, etc etc. Time is no more or less real than the other paramaters we enguage to formulate our own subjective realities.

Each aspect of reality corresponds to a singular or multiple spatial vector. Time is one of those vectors.....but don't expect anybody to tell you so, because it happens to be the truth. We may get a unified field theory one day but if we do it will be published in an incomprehensable format. You will still have to figure it out for yourself. The truth is upsetting to those who don't want YOU to know it.
Shadow: I'm assuming a basic 'knowledge' of what existance is. If you want to get really philosophical, and question the existance of everything, then that's a different matter. My question is, how does physics (and other sciences, too) treat/define time, and how is this interpreted by our experiences, assuming our experiences exist, that there's some sort of 'reality' somewhere out there. Insofar as our experiences are coloured by our very nature, science is the most objective tool we have to examine this reality.

mokrie dela: So what is it that we're experiencing, if not some physical phenomena? Are you saying that time is 'all in our heads'? If so, then what's really there?

And, do we really know how other creatures experience time? Maybe an ant just has an incredibly short lifespan, and experiences it that way, like a baby who dies soon after birth.

Time^Master: Please, share some of your ideas - they might help us with this question.

I fully intend to keep responding to posts, just not those made by TTA or Time02112.
I feel time IS in the heads of what ever life form is percieving it on this planet. I'm not concidering life on other planets, as we have not yet verified it and it may have a differentway of measuring it altogether. I believe the past, present and future are coexisting in the same space and we have only to "part a thin curtain" and the concepts of linear time or static time or what ever you want to call it will change forever. Yes, I believe it is in our heads.
Janus, no one has a basic knowlege of existance. The best minds of history have failed to come to the core of the matter.

I am not questioning the existance of everything. I am alluding to the fact that it would be kind of tough to formulate an existance in which time had no bearing. Existance is a package deal, you can't pick and choose wich parts of your experiance are real and which are "all in your mind". You can only say that all things are equally real, or that all things are equally unreal.

And no there does NOT HAVE to be an objective reality "out there". Belief in an objective reality is just that a belief. I believe that time exists as a spatial vector, and I believe that time will continue to haunt us even if it isn't real or is just in our minds.
Well, I didn't want this thread to become so philosophical/metaphysical. I'd like to see some ways in which physics and math deal with time. The only ones I'm very familiar with are those of relativity, and I'd like to see some other angles on it. But, to respond:

Shadow: Yes, I've said the same thing in another thread. But the basis of scientific research is that there is something out there, something real beyond our experiences. It may not be a completely 'objective' reality (quantum observers), but something's there nonetheless. We could get into a huge philosophical argument about existance and experience, but that won't help scientifically. So can you add to your assertion of time as a 'spatial vector'? What do you mean?

mokrie dela: so you feel that time is a spatial dimension, and we percieve it as we move through it? How do you account for free will and quantum uncertainty? (I know it's a belief and not a theory. But please elaborate.)
Janus, I am not a physicist and have trouble explaining myself. I am assuming you mean free will in relation to physics and quantum reality. Time is the fourth dimension. I feel it operates under laws that we cannot begin to concieve of. I do not think our actions are branded in space time. I feel time is liquid and the past, present and future are changeable. By quantum uncertainty, if you are refering to parallel dimensions and universes, yes I believe they connect to the fourth dimension but are not part of it. Sort of like parallel freeways with ramps shooting off in every direction. When we begin to master time travel a world of new knowledge will open to us. If I did not understand the question, please forgive me.
Nice explanation Mokrie Dela =). I liked the way you described time. It was almost poetic to me in a way =D. Wouldn't it be nice to describe all of life in such a way that touches everyone in a fundamental way? I think poetry is that, but I wouldn't know =P. I'm not poetic, nor artistic (my brother and sister are). But anyway's, I just wanted to say I agrred with your explanation =). First time for everything I suppose, huh =D.

Javier C.
Space is a three-dimensional continuum. By this we mean that it is possible to describe the position of a point (at rest) by means of three numbers (co-ordinates) x, y, z, and that there is an indefinite number of points in the neighbourhood of this one, the position of which can be described by co-ordinates such as x1, y1, z1, which may be as near as we choose to the respective value of the co-ordinates x, y, z, of the first point. In virtue of the latter property we speak of a " continuum," and owing to the fact that there are three co-ordinates we speak of it as being " three-dimensional."

Author: Albert Einstein

It is clear that time is not a spatial vector and is not needed to discribe the continuum of space.
To find the right answers we must ask the right question. It would appear that time does exist when we consider the " Principle of Relativity." The question is in what form? Is time a continuum and if it is what are its properties? If you answer these question correctly you will be well on your way to understanding the nature of time.
No we do not need time to describe space but we do need space to describe time. Space is the alpha and omega. All things, that is to say all forms can only be described as relative to the space that contains them. Time is a spatial vector because EVERYTHING is a spatial vector.

Space has zero dimentions and it has infinite dimentions. To show that the quality commonly refered to as space needs to be completely rethought by scientist and philosopher alike I will prove to you that space does not consist of three dimentions: If something has zero dimentions it is gone, you can't find it or locate it. The smallest thing you can find is a point. A point has ONE dimention (which we can call "location"). A line has two dimentions. A plane has three dimentions. Now, we need one more dimention to move from a plane to a space. Since 3 + 1 = 4, space consists of FOUR dimentions not three.

Science as you know is built on a set of unquestioned premises ...er postulates. If ANY of those postulates are in error, all that comes after them is also incorrect, even if perfecty logical within its own reference frame. If you do not question the basics you will discover nothing.

By this theory dimentions 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, infinity (+ negative 1 to infinity =11 dimentions) are the cosmic alphbet from wich reality is built. If you want to know how a machine works you must know how it is built first. It is all geometry or it is all smoke and mirrors, take your pick.

You want all the answers layed out for you? So would I. But again the truth is NEVER given away for free.....quite the opposite. We do not know because THEY don't want us to know.
Thats 11D not 12D because the zero is the nexus and shared between the positive and negative. Total dimentions available may be more but the principle of whole number vector definitions remains the same. The spiritual world may use fractional numbers vs a whole number "firmament" that forms solid atomic masses.
When I say "they" I mean that I don't know nor care who they are, other than to assume that some one or something runs this rats nest of a world we live in. And I don't WANT to know as I'm pretty sure that it is not Tinker Bell the fairy.

Explan how EVERYTHING is a spatial vector. Chose any point as small as like with one dimension (by your definition) and I can develop a frame work in which that point is a large three dimensional plane.
Shadow: Your 'proof' that space is 4D proves nothing. You simply redefined a point as 1D, then counted up from there. But the math in general use in physics et al. defines a point as 0 dimensional. Count up from that, and a space is 3D.

Math is just the language used to describe physics, and doesn't have to be one way or the other. I'm sure if we used your definition of dimension, it would produce an equally usable description of space, but space would still act in the same way. Your 'proof' in no way proves that infinite spatial dimensions exist.

"Science as you know is built on a set of unquestioned premises <...> If you do not question the basics you will discover nothing."
The reason not many people bother to question the basic tenets of physics is that they've been proved in so many different ways, so many times. It's tried and true territory - not usually the way to go to for new discoveries. Most new science gets done on the frontiers, in the areas which current theories are hazy or undefined. Like quantum mechanics; when the measurements are too small for classical physics to work.

"By this theory dimentions 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, infinity (+ negative 1 to infinity =11 dimentions) are the cosmic alphbet from wich reality is built."
Do you mean (-1)^(infinity) ? If so, where did that term come from, and what crazy math are you using so that adding it to the other set gives 11 ? Come on, if you're going to posit a large number of dimensions, give some good math at least.

"You want all the answers layed out for you?"
No, just discussion.