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The Mistery of Time

  1. Dec 3, 2004 #1
    Excuse me if this is a repetition, but i believe i have some new questions. Also, the search engine isn't working for an odd reason. Does time 'flow", or is the flow of time only an illusion? How do we perceive the flow of time -- if there is such a thing? Should we think of time as a laid out plan of everything?

    It seems that time is only the measure between two events (such as the distance from one flag pole to another), but would that not cause us to state time can not be a "dimension"?

    Prior to reading an article on Time, i always believed that time is the change of accidental properties of "forms". As this perpetual flux of living and non-living forms continues, time also manages to continue along with it. However, the "essence" of that particular object remains -- unaffected by the accidental change.

    Yet that does not seem to give me a clear perspective on what time really is.

    Also, the theory of special relativity shows us simultaneity -- which demonstrates that two events can occur at apparently "the same time", but will appear to you at different times -- as relative to the viewer. However, i do not understand, since the events themselves are not
    contingent upon the human being perceiving them! It is only the humans who are making the mistake of thinking that their perceptions are not faulty. In fact, it is their senses lying to them through the gateway of physics. Also, on the fact that we can theoretically travel forward in time as we reach 'c': does that not show us that the future is set? And thus, suggest the chance of a deity existing, who created the already set-future?

    An additional question, how does "spacetime" work? I understand it is the mapping of a specific event at a particular isntant in a space-like graph format, with z, x, y coordinates. Can someone help me fully understand this concept?

    Ps. Seems i forgot how to spell "mystery". :rofl:
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2004 #2


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    This is an attempted explanation for your questions.

    First you say time is the measure between two events, we see this as a dimension because it like you said is a measurment similer to the measurment between two flag poles, as the distance between the two flag poles is a dimension of length, the measurement between two flag poles (or same flag pole at one time compared to the same flag pole some "time" afterwords) we see change over time resulting in the fourth dimension.
    (This is a poor explanation due to me incapable of providing a better one.)

    When you say we can theoretically move foward in time, time travel is plausible and is in no way proven to be possible in any shape way or form. But if time travel was possible, and I went foward in time, it in no way means fait is predetermined or there being a deity. If I were to go fourth in time it would in no way alter any ones free will so it doesn't mean fait. One could say that the timeline for the universe has already been portraid in the eyes of time, but that is humans, or the universes will which causes the portrait of time till the end of the universe. If anything it would disprove a diety because it would mean that humans can gain the technology to reach outside of time, one of the discriptions for metaphysics, then who's to say we can't reach outside of space and time, (of course this is all speculative and in no way am I suggesting such a thing is possible.)

    In regards to your question of "SpaceTime", I don't know any more than you do about that.
  4. Dec 3, 2004 #3
    Is there another forum where this could be more appropriate? I'm thinking maybe the Philosophy of Science and Mathematics Forum.
  5. Dec 4, 2004 #4


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    Might as well stay

    We've already gotten started on this discussion hear, I see no reason to move it unless you already did, but when speaking of time travel and time because there is no definint formula or theorim it is all theoreticall, and theological when looking at "is time travel possible" so I suggest we just leave it as is.
  6. Dec 4, 2004 #5
    cant we measure time through changes.? you know time is there because we never stay the same....we're always changing.
  7. Dec 4, 2004 #6
    Like i said, our accidentals change, not our essence.

    Could anyone make any sense of why the reference to the "passage of time" is invalid?

    Also, do you think time is in one direction?
  8. Dec 4, 2004 #7
    From Aristotle to Kant, to Einstein, time has been an enormously difficult query, answered by few definite answers, and mostly represented by philosophical and scientific skepticism. It is time, which we are born and adapted to from birth, which creates life-order. Contrary, it is without time, which we imagine ourselves in massive havoc and confusion – technology in immense disorder, humans disorganized and lost. Yet as we embark on each day of our human existence, we’re not really sure what this massive governing power really is. Furthermore, we land in a sea of further perplexity as we attempt to understand theories such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which challenges every notion of time known to man.

    Time in its simplest definition, is the measure of increments between two definite, specified events. It is thus, measured in a standard measure of “time” – milliseconds being the smallest commonly used unit of measurement. Yet what is it that we are actually measuring? We sometimes state time is the interval between two events in continuum; an “interval” being a measurement of time. Thus, time is the measurement of time between two events in continuum. Yet this definition seems insufficient, since it still leaves the question regarding time’s true essence. For example, if we were to compare a human being to time: a human is say, six feet tall, just as the time in a specified situation is 50 seconds – defining time as the measurement of time between two events is just as unclear as defining a human as being a walking animal who is tall or short. We are left with the question of what a human really is – or what is common between all humans. Thus, we then have the important task of answering the question: ‘What is common between all situations dealing with time?’ Plato gives us the clearest definition of time, “It is as if we were floating on a river, carried by the current past the manifold of events which is spread out timelessly on the bank.” Therefore, time can be defined as a flowing dimension of [changing] life; an aspect similar to space, by which we experience and sense the world around us. Our perception, remembrance, imagination, thought, and sense is directly related, at various degrees, to time. The ‘block universe’ idea argues that time is stationary, and it is our misunderstanding of it which causes us too see it as flowing. However, it is important to look at our surrounding, and realize that everything which exists does so with both an essence and accidentals. If I were to say that I am currently staring at a pair of eye glasses, an image will be displayed in your brain, in accordance to your understanding of the essence of eyeglasses; it would for example, be something resembling two lenses and a frame. However, if I were to say that these eyeglasses have a silver-coated frame, you would be displaying an image of that accidental property – the silver-coated frame – in your brain. To apply this to time, it makes logical sense to give time an essence of some sort – its universal idea. This remains a mystery, although we can presume time is a dimension of life, in which change in the form of objects occurs. Therefore, the ‘block universe’ idea is partially true, although it makes the mistake by saying time in general is stationary, as supposed to rightfully saying that time’s essence is stationary and not contingent upon human beings.
    Theories such as Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, demonstrate to us that if we were to ever reach speeds of approximately 1/10 of the speed of light, we could potentially travel forward in time. This then shows us that time is in some form, predetermined. If we were too traveling at a speed of e.g. 0.9999c for 1 day, we would be bypassing 71 days of our life. We are then, left to assume that the 71st day of that interval of time was somehow predestined. Whether it is a higher deity or not is for us to decide, yet it seems illogical to assume the predetermination of time was a result of a Darwinian type of evolution.

    I have a tendency to answer my own questions. I don't even where what i know comes from.

    Thanks for participating in the thread however, it did add to my foundational knowledge.

    If anyone has anything to add or question, please do so.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2004
  9. Dec 4, 2004 #8


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    The essence of time.

    Ok, first off, when you use the example that time is flowing like a river, a dimension of travel through this river, the difficulty comes from when we literally travel a river we can measure each aspect of the river, of the distance of the river unlimitedly, but when we pass 50 seconds we can not measure the 34'tthesecond, nor the 24'tthesecond, all we can do is recognize that the time has passed.

    Now we can not say time itself is stationary cause we see that the 24'ttheand 34'tthesecond passed, as in moved, about to come, to being, to was being, hence the idea of time being stationary is ppreposterous Though of course you bring up the good point that there must be an essence of time, and ask if time is linear. First off, there can't be various "lines" of time, cause that would be proposing pparalleluniverses, that would go against free will cause it would be saying free will is dependant on the "line of time" that we are in. Though that doesn't mean that time is interely linear either, when we speak of time travel we speak of an dislinear "line of time." Now time travel in no way goes against free will, hence in no way shows life is predetermined. If I go fourth in time it shows that "the line of time" is not linear cause I just caused a curve or jumped it, what ever, but I went a different route than the straight line (of course this is assuming time travel is possible, as I said before there is no reason to believe it is possible, only plausible.) If you compare the affects of light speed travel with criogenic freezing, we could presume that light speed isn't necessarily going "faster" than time hence traveled foward but simply puts your body in a state of suspended animation just like criogenic freezing, that disregards the whole notion of time travel proving predetermined fait from this deity.
    Though time travel to the past simply can't be possible, it is impossible and implausible in any logical way. If I go back in time it could mean an alternate universe from that of the original time, though this goes back to the notion of how there can't be pparalleluniverses, so that couldn't occur. But if it were to affect the original time line then that would mean the original time line would totally have to recreate itself in an iinstantaneousstate, but then how could the humans mind and soul (both metaphysical) recreate itself for the new "line of time", so that simply isn't plausible. Of course there is a third option where in going back in time and changing it, that the original time line seizes to exist all together and life and time continues from that new state. Though that would mean man has the power to literally destroy time, that would be like saying man can go and completely destroy 30 cm from a m, so a m is now and forever 70 cm, that simply isn't possible cause time isn't contingent on man, so man cannot destroy it.

    Then if time is not contingent on man, then it must have an essence as stated earlier, now we can't say time is entirely linear, (though logically as far as we know, it is, though that doesn't mean this would be proven wrong in the future) Time does have an essence, it is what it is, we can't fully understand it cause as I said before we can't measure it, only pperceiveit. When we say time is the measurement of change, that includes all physical and metaphysical, including essence. Take a human for example, right now I as a human am mind body and soul, through out time my mind, body and soul will change, all are different than they were yyesterday of course the essence of all have not changed, but when I die they will, my body will decay eventually into nothing but soil and dirt and whatever, hence the essence of my body has become the essence of the soul, but the essence of a body has not changed, even when the universe ends, the essence of a body will still exist metaphysically, so shall my mind and soul. The essence of something generally speaking, the essence of a turtle, a plant, a rock, will always exist unchanged by time, but the body and mind of all will change over time, as well as the soul, time is the measure of this, again the difficulty of perception only compared to the want for actual study, (and I'm repeating myself so I'll stop.) Time has itself an essence, but one we could never fully understand unlike when we perceive the essence of a triangle, because we can study a triangle and its essence. So as long as we are governed by time and its flow, we can never understand time but simply perceive it and speculate and its essence.

    I hope this helps in any shape way or form, if not, respond with what doesn't make sense and I'll try to elaborate more and hopefully explain it better.
  10. Dec 4, 2004 #9
    Thank you for the reply, i will read it (and respond) as soon as i have time (probably tomorrow).

    You live in Ontario?
  11. Dec 5, 2004 #10


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    Homework Helper

    Picture a universe that is completely empty except for one neutron. I'm not an expert on nuclear physics, so this may not be completely true, but suppose for arguments sake that the neutron has some half life, and it will just sit there doing nothing until at some point in time it spontaneously decays. But until it does, nothing in the universe is changing. So what does it mean to say time is passing before it decays? For all intents and purposes, the neutron will decay the instant it is created.
  12. Dec 6, 2004 #11


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    Situation ethis, BAD...

    The universe consists of alot more than a neutron, so instead of using situation ethics (situations that will never occur) use examples that do exist.
  13. Dec 6, 2004 #12
  14. Dec 17, 2004 #13


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    If time were a measure of change, then, physically speaking, The Universe would've had to always exist for time to do the same. This is an incomprehensible situation, as something must always propagate from something else. To wit, nothingness is an impossible state. My thinking is that The Universe, and subsequently time, must have sprung from some form of consciousness (aware or not). Therefore, we may make one postulate of time: that time is not definite; it's subject to (at least) starting. If time is not definite, then it is, by definition, subject to volatility. Whether that means starting, stopping, or moving back and forth.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2004
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