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Who discovered time?

  1. Oct 19, 2015 #1

    DAC

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    Hello PF.
    Given time is a fundamental part of the universe, who discovered it? Assuming it exists doesn't count.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2015 #2

    Orodruin

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    I do not think you can assign a discoverer of time. Time has been an integral part of how mankind has modeled the universe for far longer than records of discoveries have been kept and the concept has arisen in essentially every culture on Earth.
     
  4. Oct 19, 2015 #3

    DAC

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    So what is the evidence it exists?
     
  5. Oct 19, 2015 #4
    If the basis for the concept of time is the observation of a uniformly periodic function, it looks like NASA says the 32,000 year old markings in caves of France and Germany are calendars for "lunar annual cycle, ecliptic, solstice and seasonal changes".
    The 43,000+ year old Lebombo bone may be a lunar calendar, and other notched bones go back 80,000 years...

    NASA[/PLAIN] [Broken]

    Lebombo bone
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  6. Oct 19, 2015 #5

    Dale

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    From a scientific perspective every single observation of every single physics experiment which is consistent with any theory containing time (which is all of them) is scientific evidence of the existence of time. That is simply how science works. You have a model, the model makes experimental predictions, you preform the experiments, if the experiments are consistent with the prediction then you accept the model.

    Since time is an essential part of all successful physical theories, it is very well established experimentally.
     
  7. Oct 19, 2015 #6
    Probably the first person to wonder how long between Sun up and Sun down, how far one could go and be able to return to the cave before night fall. Note the two words (concepts) which in this context would have no meaning without a basic notion of time, even if one hasn't consciously become aware of it yet. But that's philosophy.

    In physics time has a precise operational definition:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_in_physics
     
  8. Oct 19, 2015 #7

    russ_watters

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    And per post #2, fairly scientific investigation into the concept of time predates the development of science itself by many thousands of years. Early "scientists/engineers" built fairly good instruments for measuring/using the passage of time - Stonehenge and the Mayan/Aztecs, for example.
     
  9. Oct 19, 2015 #8
    Science around measuring time has existed since long before history, probably before we were even human. I'm sure homo habilus looked at the position of the sun and estimated when it would get dark, I'm sure he looked over a great distance he had to travel and estimated how long it would take.

    Trying to identify what time actually is is new. Einstein discovered that it was woven into reality and not separate from space. The idea of entropy defining an arrow for time came from a number of people working for Newton's laws of thermodynamics.

    We still really have no idea what time is, and why it's different than other dimensions. You can define it mathematically, but not really describe it.
     
  10. Oct 19, 2015 #9

    russ_watters

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    I was with you until this last part: it's a self contradiction.
     
  11. Oct 19, 2015 #10
    You can describe it mathematically, but you can not describe it in terms of something familiar.
     
  12. Oct 19, 2015 #11

    Orodruin

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    On the contrary, I think we all have some sort of intuitive concept of time as ... well ... time.
     
  13. Oct 19, 2015 #12

    russ_watters

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    While I agree with Orodruin, being able to describe something mathematically is far superior to a qualitatively description when it comes to describing/defining what something is.
     
  14. Oct 19, 2015 #13

    Dale

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    I tend to think that all questions about "what X actually is" or "what X really is" tend to be non-scientific. Usually, those questions are asked of a perfectly well-defined quantity (like time or energy) in a scientific model with lots of corresponding experimental validation. I have yet to find anyone who asks the question with a proposed experiment in mind, so it seems that the question itself is a philosophical question.
     
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