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

Time and Temperature

  1. Aug 2, 2008 #1
    Probably a silly question but do time and temperature have any relation at all? As in when things get colder does time slow down as well (since everything tends to start moving slower)?

    I assume temperature also affects atomic clocks and such?

    So if there's no relation, then what is time?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2008 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No, there is no relation. Time is not slowed by a decrease in temperature. Certain physical processes might be slowed by a decrease in temperature, but not all.

    Time is probably best thought of as another physical dimension similar to the 3 spatial dimensions. The question "where are you" has 4 coordinates to describe it.
  4. Aug 2, 2008 #3
    However, time and thermodynamics do have an interesting relationship.

    It's the tendancy of things to occur in a certain direction, consider a drop of colored water dopped into a glass of clear water, the colored water diffuses around the glass over time. No matter how much time passes, the colored molecules will never spontaneously re-group to form a drop again. Even though the motion of the molecules is completely random. Why this is , I'm not really sure.
  5. Aug 2, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    There is some sense in which temperature can be viewed as an 'imaginary time' in Quantum Field Theory, which connects statistical mechanics and quantum field theory. I don't know a great deal about this, but I would NOT make the leap to suggest it's an actual physical one as opposed to merely anything more than a mathematical interpretation.

  6. Aug 2, 2008 #5

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.
  7. Aug 3, 2008 #6
    I probably should have phrased it differently, how do you determine the speed of time? Isn't the only way to look at the speed of physical processes?
  8. Aug 3, 2008 #7
    time will be slowed near to the large bodies in space (stars, black holes, neutron stars)
    cause of curved spacetime
    i dont think there`s there`s a relation between temperature and slowed time
    temperature form of energy.......and bodies another form, but temperature not
  9. Aug 3, 2008 #8
    1. Entropy in thermodynamics is a function of heat (temperature).
    2. Entropy defines the arrow of time.

    The second law of thermodynamics states that, as time progresses, the entropy of an isolated non-equilibrium system must either increase or remain the same.

    So if you look from this perspective, time and entropy are very closely related to each other.
    russ_watters answered your question. However, if you want classical physics, then that would be the case. Quantum mechanics says otherwise.
    Temperature changes do affect atomic clocks. My physics teacher's daughter wrote a paper on it and atomic clocks on satellites had to be adjusted for the errors.
    Who knows? That is one of the big questions in philosophy. But if you are looking for a physical or mathematical explanation of time, asking an expert should set you on the right track.
  10. Aug 3, 2008 #9


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, which is why clocks use physical processes that are not affected by temperature.
  11. Aug 3, 2008 #10


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Just to clarify - temperature changes tend to affect the operation of machines, but that doesn't mean there is a temperature-time relationship. Different physical processes are affected differently and some not at all.

    It's a bit like saying that temperature affects length. While objects expand and contract with temperature, the concept of length does not. Still, it means the prototype meter is kept in a temperature controlled environment.
  12. Aug 3, 2008 #11

    What if we had a drink with an ice cube in it here on earth, and at the same time someone else was enjoying the same drink near a massive object, would the ice cube melt quicker here on earth?
  13. Aug 3, 2008 #12
    Depends on who is observing and judging this.
  14. Aug 3, 2008 #13
    Time does flow slower in the gravitational field of a massive object.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook