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How does time exist?

  1. Jan 3, 2010 #1
    G'day, First post here. Sorry if this is the wrong area.

    really glad there is a physics forum. I'm hoping people actually are relatively qualified here because I'm totally a beginner and purely researching for my own general interest and would love for some people to explain some things to me as I've got some Ideas on time and space that I don't quite understand.

    Ok so basically this is the way I'm seeing things with the universe and time etc... Please by all means feel free to prove me wrong as I'm only here sitting thinking about this stuff in my spare time, I'm not actually a studying student or anything.

    I don't know if all this stuff has been accepted or not, but this is basically just some things I've been pondering on.

    How does time, in a linear sense, actually exist? Other than as a practical idea.

    I'm starting to believe there is only 1 thing that actually exists. - 1 thing that can only ever be proven to exist.

    Which is, right now.

    Now, obviously photos exist of the past and things SEEM to happen as 'time' rolls on.

    BUT, that's not really enough for me.

    Now you can say, events and experiences have HAPPENED, however, they don't exist NOW. They DID exist, but right now? no. Nothing of the past exists - every micro-mili-billi-nano second we are a new.

    You could say there IS no past. It does not exist.

    So time really doesn't exist?

    Is it not an illusion of continuity?

    Is continuity not an illusion in and of itself?

    I *think* I'm really starting to grasp what Einstein meant when he said time is relative to the observer. Because it's an Idea, a practical tool for the mind to use, to operate through.

    A choice.

    Time 'rolling on' explained for myself - the Future doesn't really seem to exist either, only in our minds do we create fantasy scenarios and predictions but there is no future.

    If there is no future, we really have a choice of an infinite amount of options.

    I'm now starting to see that we can CHOOSE to see time in different ways.

    choose to observe time in different ways.

    Choose to EXPERIENCE time in different ways.

    choose to experience NOW in different ways.

    so, if time doesn't really exist, we really are only just experiencing now... in different ways.

    we instantaneously create a new dimension of reality in each split choice we consciously or unconsciously choose to make.

    I mean, do we not? IF I have option A and option B - and i choose A, then the reality path of A will unfold and B will cease to exist, however 'B' could've, but the determining factor was what I wanted to do moreso at the end of the day.

    So with that being said, in each moment we live, we create each moment.

    We decide each moment.

    We decide now.

    We choose the life we want,

    or what we 'perceive' we want, perceiving through the filter of our beliefs and definitions we hold about the world.

    So if I might have a negative view towards some parts of the world, and choose to FEEL angry and uptight, thinking about the past, thinking about the future, is that not creating more time?

    With experiencing less and more time. Ever heard of time flies when you're having fun?

    I think the more you put yourself in the 'moment', the more you put youreslf in the 'now', the less of 'time' you will experience.

    So if 'time' is an idea. Purely a practical idea, a 'mind creation'. It's like thinking inside your mind too much creates more and more time.

    Ever been in that moment where you're enjoying yourself so much, you're totally OUTSIDE of your head, you feel GREAT, you're choosing joy, fun, excitement, time really flies past without you realising it. The experience would actually contain less of time.

    Would that actually mean that the observer has somehow literally skipped 'time'? Or perhaps chosen to experience less of it as purely an idea?

    I mean you could go with so many directions with this...

    What's everyones thoughts with this so far>? Am I going in the right direction?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    This is not physics.
  4. Jan 3, 2010 #3


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    Time is just a practical idea, like the entire math and physics. Time exists in the same sense as numbers or length exist: as a useful abstract concept.
  5. Jan 3, 2010 #4
    thank you for being so helpful. I'm assuming you would use physics to prove this stuff, which I do not know that well... however, I just saw a philosophy area which might be better suited if someone wants to move it.

    yeah, I guess talking to random people on my outings, this doesn't really seem to be common knowledge. I mean, I've seen a few threads, 'Is time infinite?' - how does that make sense if it doesn't exist? does it matter? is 'now' infinite? is there a measurement?

    I think I'm really trying to say that there is something to do with the concept of 'now' that can really benefit society and may play into more dissolution of the societal limitations that seemed to be placed on the concept we have of time. I think the full realisation that time doesn't exist and only now exists is something we as society really haven't played around with much.
  6. Jan 3, 2010 #5
    One nice short definition is "time is what prevents everything happening all at once".

    You might find this selection of essays entered in a competition themed on the "the nature of time" http://fqxi.org/community/forum/category/10 of interest. The essays describe a wide selection of views on time from time being a "frozen river" by Cristinel Stoica to "time does not exist at all" in the quantum sense by Carlo Rovelli, while Sean Carroll contemplates the perhaps radical question, "What if time Really Exists?". The very thought of it! Pah!

    As others have mentioned, this is perhaps all too philosophical for a science forum.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  7. Jan 3, 2010 #6
    Awesome, thanks very much! cheers for the link
  8. Jan 3, 2010 #7
    haha, well I would exercise common sense - I don't mean to abandon time as a concept, but to actually be aware that it IS a concept in itself - rather than us being limited by time we can take more advantage of the concept of now. - Goals are totally ok for the future, it's the awareness of the tool to get there. You may have 20,000 steps in life, but it's the one you're taking now that is most important to where you're going.
  9. Jan 3, 2010 #8
    yeah, but what's the point in science if you're not applying it to anything meaningful? I really wanted ideas from scientists on this though I'm not opposed to this changing areas in the forum, might not be the most relevant to Special & General relativity discussion
  10. Jan 3, 2010 #9
    If its any help, most of the essays I linked to have a scientific basis and it might help to pick some of the scientific issues brought up in those essays and bring them back here or to the quantum physics forum.
  11. Jan 3, 2010 #10
    cheers, will do. thanks again.
  12. Jan 3, 2010 #11
    Atoms are what about 13 billion years old? Atoms have been relative in the present now for a long time and look to be in our future also, which contradicts your statement "Nothing of the past exists - every micro-mili-billi-nano second we are a new." Every signal emitted is from the present, while every signal I receive in the present is from the past. Everywhere I look in my present I see different parts of the past in the form of photons. The future looks like the possible paths in front of me no matter the direction I look in space, with only the possibility of moving through space/time and matching my present with anothers present, this I see as my future. Time is a area, and time as counted by a clock is the boundary of a dilating area. All motion is outward, with the present nothing more than when all this outward motion interacts with an emitter. The arrow of time points outward from every point source of energy and as long as we look outward in this direction we look at the future via photons emitted in the past from within atoms.
  13. Jan 3, 2010 #12
    not all atoms are 13 billion years old
  14. Jan 3, 2010 #13
    No, but the majority (>90%) are, as most of the atoms in the Universe are hydrogen atoms. The only major atom changing force is nuclear fusion inside of stars, which doesn't produce hydrogen; in fact, it decreases the number of hydrogen atoms in the Universe.
  15. Jan 3, 2010 #14
    so what's your theory on where hydrogen atoms are produced?

    I have my own ideas, which could be out there already--I haven't really checked yet
  16. Jan 4, 2010 #15
    I don't think time is subjective or a choice, I think time is a mechanism for change.
    Just because the universe itself has no recollection of the past, doesn't mean it didn't exist.
    A lot of things happen in the universe regardless of if it's ever perceived or noticed, including change.
    Just as I've sit in this chair everyday for the past week, the rocks on some desolate lonely planet have all moved deterministically from A to B to C.
    We are just lucky we can observe change, only consciousness can so far.
  17. Jan 4, 2010 #16
    About 379000 years after the Big Bang, hydrogen nuclei gained electrons, forming hydrogen atoms.
  18. Jan 4, 2010 #17
    I'm not saying the past didn't exist, I'm saying it doesn't exist. Slight but important difference.

    We can appreciate it happened, but it's not happening. - only 'now' is happening.

    Also, I don't think you can ever 'see' the past as it's past, you are only seeing what is happening now. - sure there is evidence of what HAS happened, but now, is the only thing there is and ever is from what I've come to.

    "Nothing of the past exists - every micro-mili-billi-nano second we are a new." I still think this statement rings true as well - because there is no past, when I say 'nothing of the past', I mean that as in, there is only now that exists - which again, shows that we have experienced certain events, but right now is the only thing that exists.
  19. Jan 4, 2010 #18

    Math Is Hard

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    What you perceive as "now", is really only the very recent past. It takes a little bit of time for sensory data to reach, and be processed by, your brain. The present is always a little bit ahead of your sensory systems.
  20. Jan 5, 2010 #19
    Sorry I'm not new, I am a part of my own past, and I am still here. Where is this new me? I may leave this computer and as I walk away it will go farther into my past, but when I return it will still be there waiting in my past until we can be in the present together again. I may process the signals sent to me in my present, but I do not make them up. These changing signals that I process as my present are always new but I am rooted in the past by my mass and that is old.
  21. Jan 5, 2010 #20
    Actually, Descartes dictum, "I think, therefore I am" is already proven to be an old method of thinking. It is a famous error.

    Who we are, in definition, are not our thoughts. We're more than just our minds.

    Infact our presence rises with stillness of the mind, just by doing a few tests. Ask yourself, "Am I breathing?" The answer is both without thought and without words, to ask does not require words or thought, but pure presence and stillness of the mind.

    Thinking without awareness isn't going to get you anywhere. The mind is but a tool. The more you realise this, the more you can enhance and sharpen such a thing.

    Essentially Descartes equated thinking with being, thinking being the root of the ego. Jean-Paul Satre saw the error in this statement first and basically said that when you are AWARE that you are thinking, that awareness is not part of thinking. It is a different dimension of consciousness.
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