# Time is the transfer of energy.

StephenSwires
Time is the transfer (flow) of energy by matter.

If you do a mental experiment and conceive of time stopped, it requires the cessation of the flow of energy. Everything "freezes" as it is without change.
All effects of time are seen as effects of the flow of energy (aging, etc.).
All sentient physical beings experience and make their observations about the physical universe by the flow of energy within the brain, so the concept of the flow of time is inseperable from the thought process.
The underlying physical law that is labeled the 2nd law of thermodynamics being that energy is transferred from matter with greater energy to matter with lesser energy is the same law that makes time flow in only one direction for all matter and beings made of matter.

## Answers and Replies

Mentat
Originally posted by StephenSwires
Time is the transfer (flow) of energy by matter.

If you do a mental experiment and conceive of time stopped, it requires the cessation of the flow of energy. Everything "freezes" as it is without change.
All effects of time are seen as effects of the flow of energy (aging, etc.).
All sentient physical beings experience and make their observations about the physical universe by the flow of energy within the brain, so the concept of the flow of time is inseperable from the thought process.
The underlying physical law that is labeled the 2nd law of thermodynamics being that energy is transferred from matter with greater energy to matter with lesser energy is the same law that makes time flow in only one direction for all matter and beings made of matter.

If I may challenge your original statement, Time is not the transfer of energy. Think of this: Energy is transferred (or it "flows") over a certain amount of space, right? That doesn't mean that space = the flow of energy, does it? By that same reasoning: Energy is transferred over a certain amount of time, but that doesn't mean that energy = time (in fact, it means that it definitely is not, in the same way as space is not).

Space is a set of dimensions. Time is also a dimension (possibly two dimensions, if F-Theory is worth anything). Dimensions can be used to "track" or "measure" the flow of energy, but they are not the same thing as the flow of energy itself.

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Yes, his idea is not well thought out. If time is the transfer of energy, then what happens when the transfer of energy stops, time stops?

Didn't think so. Shoulda thought this one out on paper first.

StephenSwires

Originally posted by Mentat
If I may challenge your original statement, Time is not the transfer of energy. Think of this: Energy is transferred (or it "flows") over a certain amount of space, right? That doesn't mean that space = the flow of energy, does it? By that same reasoning: Energy is transferred over a certain amount of time, but that doesn't mean that energy = time (in fact, it means that it definitely is not, in the same way as space is not).

Space is a set of dimensions. Time is also a dimension (possibly two dimensions, if F-Theory is worth anything). Dimensions can be used to "track" or "measure" the flow of energy, but they are not the same thing as the flow of energy itself.

Come on guys, think a little harder.
I never said that energy=time. There's a big difference between energy and the flow of energy.
Space is described by geometric dimensions, but space therefore cannot be said to "be" a set of dimensions!

StephenSwires
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
Yes, his idea is not well thought out. If time is the transfer of energy, then what happens when the transfer of energy stops, time stops?

Didn't think so. Shoulda thought this one out on paper first.
I did. Please think your reply out better. Instead of being so quick, slow down and think it through.
Yes, time stops if there is no transfer of energy. Any proof otherwise?

The 2nd law of thermodynamics actually talks about entropy, not energy, two very different concepts.

Still, you hit near something interesting -- conservation of energy is a consequence of no point in time being special. If you assume the laws of physics are unchanging in time, then you can deduce that total energy must be conserved, via Noether's theorem. Pretty neat. Similarly, if the laws of physics don't change over space, momentum must be conserved, and if they don't change with direction, angular momentum must be conserved...

Tyger
My two cents worth.

Time and Energy are closely related, energy is basically the change of Quantum Mechanical phase with time, but time certainly doesn't equal energy.

In science fiction you'll you'll read about a device called a "stasis box" which stops the passage of time for anything placed in it. Now what would be required to make such a device? To slow time down by a factor of 100 you would need to remove 99% of the energy of all the particles, electrons, nuclei, etc., in the thing you placed in the box. Because size is also determined by energy (and some other factors) the item would expand by a factor of 100.

So Mr. Swires may be wrong, or maybe not stating what he means clearly, but he is wrong in the right direction.

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StephenSwires
Originally posted by damgo
The 2nd law of thermodynamics actually talks about entropy, not energy, two very different concepts.

Thermodynamics has to do with energy, and yes the 2nd law is about entropy. I suppose I didn't quite word that right, but the thought I meant is that the law or principle underlying the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The 2nd law is probably an averaging on the macro scale based upon a more fundamental law.
In an isolated system, entropy will spontaneously increase because particles with greater energy will transfer energy to particles with lesser energy until the energy is fairly evenly distributed (maximum entropy is reached).

StephenSwires

Originally posted by Tyger
Time and Energy are closely related, energy is basically the change of Quantum Mechanical phase with time, but time certainly doesn't equal energy.

Quite right. Nobody said time equals energy. There is a big difference between energy and the transfer of energy.
In science fiction you'll you'll read about a device called a "stasis box" which stope the passage of time for anything placed in it. Now what would be required to make such a device? To slow time down by a factor of 100 you would need to remove 99% of the energy of all the particles, electrons, nuclei, etc., in the thing you placed in the box. Because size is also determined by energy (and some other factors) the item would expand by a factor of 100.

So Mr. Swires may be wrong, or maybe not stating what he means clearly, but he is wrong in the right direction.
Quite interesting; carry the thought further.

Science Advisor
Originally posted by StephenSwires
Time is the transfer (flow) of energy.
Indeed. In your message you added "by matter" -
what did you mean by that ?
Originally posted by LogicalAtheist
If time is the transfer of energy, then what
happens when the transfer of energy stops,
time stops?
But that never happens in the Universe so
far, as far as we know.
"Shoulda thought this one out on paper first."

Live long and prosper.

StephenSwires

Originally posted by drag
Indeed. In your message you added "by matter" -
what did you mean by that ?

Energy is the commonly defined as the ability of matter to do work (cause a change) upon matter. All energy transfers are from matter to matter.
But that never happens in the Universe so
far, as far as we know.
...and how do you know? (not that I am saying that it has). However, that does not preclude the possibility or challenge the validity of the whole point.

Mentat

Originally posted by StephenSwires
Come on guys, think a little harder.
I never said that energy=time. There's a big difference between energy and the flow of energy.
Space is described by geometric dimensions, but space therefore cannot be said to "be" a set of dimensions!

It is a set of dimensions. Besides, time [x=] the "flow of energy", as I explained in my post.

Also, time is not a dimension (freedom to move back and forth in) but just a coordinate.

Staff Emeritus
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Gold Member
Originally posted by StephenSwires
Time is the transfer (flow) of energy by matter.
One problem that I see here is the same that I have encountered in many Gedunken experiments. How do we define flow without time? Time is the change in energy across some boundary with respect to time? It seems that the definition includes itself. [?]

Science Advisor

Greetings !
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
One problem that I see here is the same that
I have encountered in many Gedunken experiments.
How do we define flow without time? Time is the
change in energy across some boundary with respect
to time? It seems that the definition includes itself. [?]
I believe the statement was "time is the flow
of energy" that is the first level definition
so I think there's no problem here.

StephenSwires, matter is just one form of energy.
It could basicly be defined as the energy component
of a system that moves on the time axis(according
to GR), I think.

Live long and prosper.

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member

Originally posted by drag
I believe the statement was "time is the flow
of energy" that is the first level definition
so I think there's no problem here.

Perhaps I am stuck a bit here. Isn't defining time like defining the verb "to be" - no satisfactory definition exists that does not include that being defined? I would think that any model that seeks to include time as a consequence must by definition be static. Otherwise it would seem that we can only say that two things occur together, without any hope of a cause and effect determination.
Another example is addition. I think we must assume the existence of addition for the same reasons.

Enlightenment please?

Science Advisor

Greetings !

I'm not certain what you mean Ivan.
Are you referring to the basic nature of
the concepts "time" and "energy flow" which
indeed turns the definition of either of them
by means of the other into self-referential ?
I don't think the cause and effect relation,
in such case, is applicable here.

Live long and prosper.

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member

Originally posted by drag
Greetings !

I'm not certain what you mean Ivan.
Are you referring to the basic nature of
the concepts "time" and "energy flow" which
indeed turns the definition of either of them
by means of the other into self-referential ?
I don't think the cause and effect relation,
in such case, is applicable here.

Live long and prosper.
This is a difficult point...thinking...thinking...
We can use an equal sign, but not an "is". I mean that the concept of flow requires the concept of time. Therefore to say that "time is flow" is to define time in terms of itself. For this reason this strikes me an equivalency and not a definition...even if correct. No? [?]

Science Advisor

Indeed. It IS self-referential (provided
it is correct, of course). But so are all
basic (as far as we know at the time, at least)
ellements of nature (electrons, neutrinos,
space-time and so on).

Live long and prosper.

So is the definition "Time- the direction which entropy increases" self-referential as well, because it specifies motion?

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Science Advisor
Gold Member

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
I would think that any model that seeks to include time as a consequence must by definition be static.

Excellent point. Actually, both SR and GR can be thought of as portraying a static 4D universe in which nothing "happens" and yet, at each slice in one particular direction (locally), some subsets of it keep "memories" that gives them the impression of a time flow.

Another example is addition. I think we must assume the existence of addition for the same reasons.

IMO, no. I think it can be defined without self reference in a countably infinite ordered set, in terms of the "successor" function.

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Gold Member
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
So is the definition "Time- the direction which entropy increases" self-referential as well, because it specifies motion?

I think it is not specifying motion, but just a derivative wrt a direction. Think about a plot in a textbook: it is perfectly static, and yet you can obtain its derivative (slope of tangent lines) at many points .

On the other hand, the idea of "flow" relies much more heavily on time.

StephenSwires

Originally posted by drag
Greetings !
StephenSwires, matter is just one form of energy.
It could basicly be defined as the energy component
of a system that moves on the time axis(according
to GR), I think.
Live long and prosper.

OK, if matter is just one form of energy, then what is your definition of energy?

We know from SR that mass = energy, but are mass and matter absolutely equivalent? Is it not more correct to think of mass as part of the energy status of matter?

StephenSwires
Regarding the struggle with the question of "flow" containing the concept of time and therefore being self-referential:
the concept of flow only contains time if you equate order with time because flow is a change in order. I can refer to the "flow" of a numerical sequence {1,2,4,8...} and it does not contain the idea of time, but it does contain the idea of order. I am sure we can think of many other instances we could use the word flow without the idea of time.
In my original statement I used the term "transfer" with "flow" in parentheses because the concept I am trying to describe is that our idea of time arises from the change in energy state of particles of matter, which, of course, only change energy state by the transfer of energy from other particles that have energy.
BTW, the word "particle" is used with some reservation also, perhaps the word "point" would be better..

Science Advisor

Greetings !
Originally posted by StephenSwires
OK, if matter is just one form of energy, then what
is your definition of energy?
Some basic Universal thingy ?
Originally posted by StephenSwires
We know from SR that mass = energy, but are mass
and matter absolutely equivalent? Is it not more
correct to think of mass as part of the energy
status of matter?
That's GR.
Mass is part of the energy of matter. Mass
is also a value discribing energy moving
through time. EM waves do not move through
time for example, it's kind of an exchange.
Originally posted by StephenSwires
BTW, the word "particle" is used with some
reservation also, perhaps the word "point"
would be better..
No, point would be a horrible word for this,
try wave-particle...

Live long and prosper.

StephenSwires

Originally posted by drag
Greetings !

Some basic Universal thingy ?

Unfortunately, it is a crucial question that must be answered seriously or your statement that matter=energy is nonsense.
That's GR.
I know my memory isn't what it used to be, but I seem to remember that it is SR that says E=MC2.
Mass is part of the energy of matter.
That is what I said. However, are you still saying that mass=matter??
No, point would be a horrible word for this,try wave-particle...
...if you accept that quantum theory is complete and correct...

I always thought of time as the change of the three spatial dimentions, but not just day to night or the Earth's rotation.

StephenSwires
Originally posted by Eaglesyfon
I always thought of time as the change of the three spatial dimentions, but not just day to night or the Earth's rotation.
Of course, the day/night cycle caused by the Earth's rotation is only a large scale sum of many lesser time events that add up to it. See comments on first page regarding dimensions.

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Gold Member
Originally posted by StephenSwires
the concept of flow only contains time if you equate order with time because flow is a change in order.

IMO, the problem has not gone away.

If you mention "change", you need to specify with respect to what, since it otherwise the change can only be in time.

IOW, any mention of "change" is basically the use of a derivative (especially if you are talking about a physical concept). As such, you need to specify with respect to which variable you are deriving.

So, what is "x" in you assertion that

Time = d(Energy)/dx

?

Mentat
Originally posted by Alexander
Also, time is not a dimension (freedom to move back and forth in) but just a coordinate.

"Dimension" does not mean "freedom to move back and forth in". Relativity doesn't even allow for such a distinction to be made (that it is me that is moving, and not the dimension that is being distorted).

Also, the speed of our movement in "time" is inversely proportional to our movement in "space", and thus we are as free in that one as in any other. The reason we can't "turn around" and go backwards in time is that there is no other time dimension to do so in (while we have more than one spatial dimension, and can thus turn around).

StephenSwires
Originally posted by ahrkron
IMO, the problem has not gone away.

If you mention "change", you need to specify with respect to what, since it otherwise the change can only be in time.

IOW, any mention of "change" is basically the use of a derivative (especially if you are talking about a physical concept). As such, you need to specify with respect to which variable you are deriving.

So, what is "x" in you assertion that

Time = d(Energy)/dx

?
This is a very good point and one I've found intriguing while trying to work this through. I believed I should use the term transfer or flow of energy from our perspective in time because that is what we see it as. But of course, if such transfer gives rise to time, then no coordinate system or order that involves any idea of time (or space) can be used to describe it in its ultimate reality.

However, I believe it is possible then to use a coordinate system that is primary and not a spacetime coordinate system. Such a coordinate system could be based upon 2 points and every point in spacetime could be assigned a particular coordinate in reference to those two points. There would actually be no change when viewed from that perspective (by some intelligence outside of spacetime), but only the whole.
The fact the we describe it as a flow (change or transfer) from our perspective does not falsify the concept.

maximus
in a sense this is true. one of the many "arrows of time" that is used to reason the flow of time is the thermodynamic arrow of time in which we observe order changing to disorder. but then again, with what system other than time do we use to calculate the FLOW of energy? we only observe the flow because time has passed. i may be repeating someone i just jumped in here.

I jumped in here too:

What is the difference between the transfer of energy and the flow of energy?

maximus
Originally posted by MajinVegeta
I jumped in here too:

What is the difference between the transfer of energy and the flow of energy?

nothing.

Originally posted by StephenSwires
Time is the transfer (flow) of energy by matter.

The underlying physical law that is labeled the 2nd law of thermodynamics being that energy is transferred

--from matter with greater energy to matter with lesser energy is the same law that makes time flow in only one direction --

for all matter and beings made of matter.

What about interference patterns (constructive and destructive)created when high energy acts on low energy, creating a third wave pattern?

And why should we assume that third pattern only flows in one direction?