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Homework Help: A Written Asignment About Time

  1. Mar 1, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    I was assigned to write sort of like an essay and the topic I was give is "Time". As simple as that. It needs to include front cover, introduction, body, references, conclusion, so on and so forth. It's due this coming Thursday.

    2. Relevant equations

    No equations needed. It's a written assignment.

    3. The attempt at a solution

    My professor wasn't specific about what he wanted me or my classmates to write about. The way we write about "time" is up to us. I've been thinking about it to try and find a way to approach it. So far I looked up in the internet and found several webpages describing how mankind started measuring time using water clocks, sun dials, and so on and so forth. It was a bit difficult at first because when I looked about time related things I'd get Stephen Hawking's publications, which is far beyond my level of comprehension for now. The most helpful thing I've read is a book I found in amazon titled "Time Explained: A Proposed Alternative Model For Time and a Universal Law" authored by Michael N. Adrigole. I don't really know if his view on time is accurate or is accepted by the scientific community. Actually it's the first time I come across the term "unidirectional change". It did give some ideas as of what to write about but I'd like to look for more sources of information. I still am not clear as how to give a structure to my written paper or essay, and I just have some of the content and an introduction I'd like to improve.

    I'm not looking for people to do this for me, but I'd appreciate if I could receive some orientation as to how to approach it, or some ideas or inspiration. I am very thankful for the attention given to my request and your kind help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2014 #2


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    Just remember, time is what keeps everything from happening all at once (and space is what keeps it all from happening to me). :smile:
  4. Mar 2, 2014 #3


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    According to modern physics, time is a parameter labeling the causal sequence of (local) events. As simple as this sounds, it's a pretty complicated issue, involving a lot of mathematics concerning possible space-time models (Newtonian, special relativistic, general relativistic) etc.
  5. Mar 2, 2014 #4
    Where or how can I find more information in that aspect of time? So far I've written about how humans invented clocks and calendar and such to keep track of events. I don't know if I'm doing it wrong.
  6. Mar 2, 2014 #5
    Is the class more physics and problem solving based, or more about the history of science and what not? You should tailor your paper to generally match the content of the class, I would think. Further than that, just write about a lot of different aspects involving time, and be thoughtful about it. It's such a vague assignment that I'm sure as long as you give a good effort to writing about these different aspects, you'll do fine. The paper may be more an assessment on how willing you are to write thoughtfully and make an effort on research of the topic.
  7. Mar 2, 2014 #6
    Well more or less that's exactly what I've been doing. My class is basically to teach us to write papers, and essays and that sort of stuff. So there is no topic we've been consistently discussing for a long period of time. We've worked on two short essays so far, one was related to science and society the other didn't even have to do with science at all but our professor wanted to see how well we could summarize and take information from what we read and structure it again in our own words without loosing the original sense or course of the topic.

    So right now he just gave us this assignment which is sort of long and I guess is the most formal we've done so far, he wants it to be structured according to the APA guidelines and that's about it. He wasn't specific.

    So far I've given like a brief definition of what is time in society, and more or less it's history like about water clocks, early calendars, and so on. I haven't defined very well where I'm going yet but I've also used some of the ideas I got from the book I read and other useful webpages I've found over the internet. I think maybe it would be good to write about the scientific approach about time, or at least from the physics point of view but I'm not sure as to how to do that. So that's why I created this thread, maybe you can give me some insights on some important perspective or something, just a little word of advise or inspiration. So far I've written 10 pages.
  8. Mar 2, 2014 #7
    Oh okay, I didn't know if this way more for a physics class or a composition class. I think you're going in the right direction to start with the history of time, how it's measured, etc.

    For the physics part, time is often associated with entropy -- i.e. "disorderliness" of the universe. When considering why time only flows in one direction, many processes seem to only go in one direction of time (like a pot breaking) but not the other way (like the broken pieces of a pot leaping off of the ground to form the whole pot again). This idea centers around entropy, and it claims that time flows in the direction of entropy. So as time goes on, things get more and more out of order. The reason why time only goes in one direction then, is answered by the fact that entropy is always increasing, so time can only go in this one direction. That would be a good lead in for the physics part of it, and then you could go on to talk about more complex things like I'm sure you've read about already.

    I nice way to end it, I think, would be to talk about time more philosophically. Why must entropy increase, and so time only go in one direction? What determines the pace of time moving forward? Is time continuous, or punctuated? Does time have a start and an end? Things of that nature that you don't need to answer (and indeed probably no one can), but just consider.

    With those three sections, it looks like a solid paper to me.
  9. Mar 2, 2014 #8
    Wow! thank you so much! right now after writing about the history of time I wrote a little bit how in a sense it's a human invention (hours minutes etc are just a non accurate division of the earth's movements)... I guess I'll move on to the physics part from there and then to the philosophy one! :) Is that all right?
  10. Mar 5, 2014 #9
    Ah, sorry for not getting back. Yes, that all looks fine. I think it's a good way to address the "prompt" -- by explaining a lot of different aspects about time. Of course, other people might do things like write sonnets about their love of time, but this should do nicely. Good luck!
  11. Mar 10, 2014 #10
    Hello there! It's okay. I actually haven't finished the assignment, I've got three different perspectives in it so far. Good news is my teacher got sick so the due date got postponed. I don't know how to approach the Physics perspective. I've read the information on this webpage timephysics.com but at some point I just don't understand anything. I like the way you talked about the universe's entropy, but I need sources I haven't found I keep finding either the history of clocks and the earth movement, or physics stuff I honestly can't understand. My physics knowledge is pretty basic and I've only dealt with time in basic stuff like acceleration and linear motion! ... U_U Sorry for my late reply but i had issues with my computer :S
  12. Mar 10, 2014 #11


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    Have you had a look at...


    Plenty of reference and not all of it is difficult to understand.

    Some features of our universe (like electricity) we think we understand pretty well. I'd suggest that we still have a lot to learn about time.

    Perhaps see also..
    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Timeless/Symmetry.pdf [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  13. Mar 10, 2014 #12
    I actually feel pretty ashamed. I'm so used to avoid using wikipedia both because not being allowed and also because everyone uses it and they end up with very alike assignments... I totally forgot about checking it to at least have an idea of what to do, and I looked up everywhere else I could, and it wasn't intentional lol. I'm sorry... and thanks a lot! I'll let you know of the outcome :)
  14. Mar 29, 2014 #13
    Hey guys, I'm sorry for my absence, had some issues with my internet. I wanted to thank you for your help, it was so so so valuable and I actually learned so much writing the essay. I will let you know what my teacher thought about it once I get his feedback :)
  15. Mar 29, 2014 #14


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    It's a bit OT, but I have to say this here: only the dumbest profs/TAs would specifically disallow Wikipedia (unless there's a blanket ban on all external references). Wiki is now much better controlled than in the early days. Besides, it is the student's responsibility to independently verify any assertion made on Wiki (or anywhere on the web, really), so if that caveat is made clear, Wiki is no worse than any other online source, and often a lot better.

    Back on topic, since this looks like a bit of a generalist essay, maybe throw some popular culture references in there too: e.g. movies and music made about time. Like 12 Monkeys and Pink Floyd's "Time".
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