Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Meaning of time

  1. Sep 18, 2003 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    when people (no physicists (-: ) talk about time they usually use the terms: " time flow slow/fast" and more as such.
    now my question what is time philosophically for us?
    by physically i know that there is the time duration in relativity: t'=t/(1-v^2/c^2)^0.5 which means that time looks to be "running" fast to the one who is v=0 with respect to the one whose v~=0 but i want to know what do us humans picture time?

    1. my answer that our picture of time is like of flowing river (but this picture is possesed not only by me but also by scientists [but they arent philosophers (-: ]).

    2. now let's investigate the statements which are given above:
    "does time flow slow/fast?"- this is from the point of view of humans (not physics) a feeling which changes from a person to person according to the situation he's at.

    i think the roll of philosophy in time (or metaphysics) is to say something about time and humans the relationships that without time all motion and us wouldnt occur.

    i hope it's not a crap.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2003 #2
    Time is sort of like a shadow which follows us around, which doesn't really do anything, except remind us of our mortality. As a matter of fact, time doesn't really exist, outside of the moment that is. :wink:
  4. Sep 18, 2003 #3

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I decided just the other night that I dislike the idea of 'a moment'. I think that 'a moment' is only a human term placed on a section of time which we have chosen to be representative of a really small unit of time. And as such, a moment does not actually exist in reality. That is, time can't actually be broken down into moments (unlike say atoms, which can be broken down into electrons neutrons and protons.)

    In otherwords, I thnk time is continuous. It is a single...entity...thing....sort of...thing. or better yet, all of time is a single moment.
  5. Sep 19, 2003 #4
    And yet if I were to say the moment is the here and now, and is everpresent, then that pretty much says the same thing doesn't it? Which is what I mean by saying time doesn't exist, because all we really have is the moment ... i.e., yesterday doesn't exist, nor does tomorrow.

    And you know what they say, "There's no time like the present" ... moment that is. :smile:

    As a matter of fact, existence itself is encompassed by the moment, evidence of this being that we can only remain "conscious" in the moment.
  6. Sep 19, 2003 #5

    Another God

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    There is a definite confusion here somewhere.

    You say we are conscious in the moment, but if the moment is eternal...yeah, this makes no sense.

    I think we can phrase it as 'We are conscious for a period of percieved time, only thus percieved on account of our memory of previous conscious memories.'

    That definition came off the top of my head, excuse it if it is nonsnse.

    I think i also need to include in it something to do with causality... but ...hmmm..I dunno. This is all so confusing. I think I will need to come back to it another day.
  7. Sep 19, 2003 #6
    Would it have made more sense if I left out the part about consciousness? The last statement was more of an after-thought, and I was trying to figure out a way to tie existence, eternity and consciousness together (which are somehow related), but unfortunately that was the best I could do. Sorry.

    The closest I can come (for the moment that is :wink:) is to say that consciousness is like a portal -- in time -- or, like the lense of a camera which, when it becomes aware and "draws attention" to itself (the aperture?), takes a snapshot of existence which, can only be experienced in the moment (or, as the moment).

    Whereas if you transfer this to the possibility of viewing the whole universe at once, at least conceptually, then consciousness becomes the means by which to "conceive" -- or, take a snapshot -- of the whole universe as it exists in the here and now. In other words we have eternity and infinity all wrapped up in one.
  8. Sep 19, 2003 #7
    If I had no memory there would be no time for me. If a frog had a very good memory would it plan ahead for it's future?
    Would it consider long term pleasures more important than short term?
    Wouldn't a human always fall for the same traps like a fish if it had a 1 minute memory span? If nothing new is happening for a person and the memory is not being challenged or stimulated then will time seem to speed up for them? If I ask enough questions will I understand what time is better? If time is mere illusion of matter in constant and variable motion then why do we have a word for it? What good is a word of a thing that is mere illusion? Is time just a shorthand word for keeping up the illusion that the past and future are important and need to be chronicled and remembered for the sake of avoiding dangers and capitalizing on similiar opportunities to come? If all I every paid attention to was the changes in light and dark on this planet then would I learn and store enough memory to see that a sun revolves around the planet in a regular and predictable pattern? Why should I pay attention to such things? What is it about humans that we are driven to watch bees for 40 years and sit and meditate on a hilltop for 50? Just where do we get off thinking that it is of any importance at all to pay attention to such minute details for so long when all the other animals are quite sane in paying attention to what is right in front of them and not distorting or exaggerating the importance of the details of the world or themselves? If I had no long term memory there would be no need to read anything, I would be an animal.
  9. Sep 26, 2003 #8
    Time is a way to measure change. When something in the unverse changes, a new 'moment' in created, assemble a series of changes or 'moments' together, sequentially, on a line, and you have this concept we call time.
  10. Oct 1, 2003 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    a little bit physics

    if time were to be just an illusion of our perceptions (as some physicists think it is) than the universe would be static which conflict with our observations of it which declare it isnt so.
  11. Oct 1, 2003 #10
    Although change relies on a state of relativity (change "a" as compared to change "b") it suffices to say that relativity (according to some extended research) exists................

    therefore, my initial decision to describe "time" as an anthromorphic tool that measures "change" stands undaunted by philosophers and physicists alike :wink:
  12. Oct 3, 2003 #11
    For us 3D people there is only now. Whether we call it the moment or present or point of being is irrelavent. There is for us only now. The past is gone forever from us. Even a second ago is lost and can never be changed. The future is yet to be and we can not change or act in or on the future until it becomes now.
    Time if it exists and if it is a dimention is perpendicular to our 3-D world and we can only be aware of and act at the place where it intersects our world. Outside of science, time flow is subjective as well as relative.
    If one wants to get metasphysical, spiritual, the all of time exists at the same time i.e. there is no time in reality. The past was, is and always will be. The present was, is and always will be. The future was, is and always will be. God and the spiritual realm is outside of time and space and thus know all of time.
    In the reality of the real world my office is in a local time warp.
    Time goes by twice as slowly while I'm in my office as when I'm not, even slower on Friday afternoons.
  13. Oct 11, 2003 #12
    I really got to thinking about this question a year ago, and eventually came up with an answer. Forget measurement, time is the interval between events. it can (and is) strech(ed) compressed etc.
  14. Oct 11, 2003 #13
    that's like completely the oposite of how i see it. like, say all of time was a stack of photos. Then each moment would be one picture. time wouldn't exist in each picture, it'd only exist when more than one existed. time wouldn't be the space between photos, but like a way of measuring certain distances between photos. like, 100 photos is a 'minute.' and no matter how you compact or spread your stack, 100 photos is still a minute.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook