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

Time is the transfer of energy.

  1. May 16, 2003 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2003 #2
    If I may challenge your original statement, Time is not the transfer of energy. Think of this: Energy is transfered (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 transfered 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.
    Last edited: May 16, 2003
  4. May 16, 2003 #3
    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.
  5. May 16, 2003 #4
    Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    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!
  6. May 16, 2003 #5
    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?
  7. May 16, 2003 #6
    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...
  8. May 16, 2003 #7
    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.
    Last edited: May 16, 2003
  9. May 16, 2003 #8

    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).
  10. May 16, 2003 #9
    Re: My two cents worth.

    Quite right. Nobody said time equals energy. There is a big difference between energy and the transfer of energy.
    Quite interesting; carry the thought further.
  11. May 17, 2003 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Indeed. In your message you added "by matter" -
    what did you mean by that ?
    But that never happens in the Universe so
    far, as far as we know.
    "Shoulda thought this one out on paper first." :wink:

    Live long and prosper.
  12. May 17, 2003 #11
    Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    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. :wink:
    ...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.
  13. May 19, 2003 #12
    Re: Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    It is a set of dimensions. Besides, time [x=] the "flow of energy", as I explained in my post.
  14. May 19, 2003 #13
    Also, time is not a dimension (freedom to move back and forth in) but just a coordinate.
  15. May 19, 2003 #14

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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. [?]
  16. May 19, 2003 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    Greetings !
    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.
  17. May 19, 2003 #16

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    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?
  18. May 19, 2003 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    Greetings !

    I'm not certain what you mean Ivan.
    Are you refering 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.
  19. May 19, 2003 #18

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    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? [?]
  20. May 19, 2003 #19


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Time is the transfer of energy.

    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.
  21. May 19, 2003 #20
    So is the definition "Time- the direction which entropy increases" self-referential as well, because it specifies motion?
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Time is the transfer of energy.
  1. Energy transfer (Replies: 12)

  2. Energy Transfer (Replies: 14)

  3. Heat Transfer Time (Replies: 2)