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I Physical Definition of Time

  1. Feb 14, 2017 #1


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    Gold Member

    Can we say that TIME is essentially the progression of energy from one state to another, in its long cosmic quest to achieve equilibrium?

    Without the movement of electromagnetic waves and transfer of energy, the entire universe would come to a standstill — an inanimate, “frozen” world.

    Time thus appears to be an abstract, high-level representation of such animation; just as “music” is merely a conceptual representation of vibrating particles.

    Can we thus say that intrinsically, time is only qualitative — a difference of states; whereas the quantitative value or magnitude — the perceived speed of time — is an illusion subjective to the observer, as demonstrated by Einstein’s relativity?

    Thank you.

    p/s: This is intended as a question on physics, not from a philosophical perspective :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 14, 2017 #2
    The best and perhaps least satisfying answer to your question is that time is that which a clock measures. Like other physical quantities if you cannot define it operationally then you have an essentially meaningly interpretation as far as physics is concerned.
  4. Feb 14, 2017 #3
    i need help with this question too, But I believe a lot of our science involving time began as qualitative and resulted in quantitative concepts that are now proven mathematically and depend on time. Time is qualitative from the standpoint that we have not figured out how to move things (i.e. People from point to point) but it is related quantitatively in applications such as mechanics, material science, and other areas of engineering. What qualitative ideas go on in theoretical physics?
  5. Feb 14, 2017 #4


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    We cannot.

    Assuming all motion ceases and no disturbances of any kind propagate through the universe, then yes, everything would be "frozen". But this has nothing to do with time as far as we know.

    Perhaps, but this topic is almost always a fast track to nowhere. As Inventive said, the most accurate (but least satisfying) answer is that "Time is what a clock measures". You can get into the details of how time is treated and what is known about it in terms of General Relativity, but most of these boil right back down to "Time is what a clock measures".

    If you'd like to know more from the standpoint of General Relativity, feel free to start a thread in the Relativity forum. But I'm going to lock this thread since your question is essentially unanswerable and this topic attracts speculation and personal opinions like nothing else...

    Thread locked.
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