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# Is time merely a concept?

Author Topic:   Is time merely a concept?
Salamander
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 Message 1 of 55 (432663) 11-07-2007 4:54 PM

Is time an actual entity or just a concept?

We all use time to measure how long things take to move, but is there more to it than that? I thought quite a bit about this a few years ago when I was thinking over Zeno's dichotomy paradox. He states that we can never fully reach any point because to get to the point, we must first go half way to it, but before that, half way to the half way point, ad infinitum. Seeing as how we do reach points all the time (ie, I never have any problem getting to work), it seems there is no real paradox here, yet the reasoning is sound.

I figured the problem with the paradox is that at a constant rate of speed, it would take a body in motion just shorter and shorter amounts of time to reach each consecutive half way point. Then I thought about how much time passes when an extremely short amount of travel occurs. So I wondered what the shortest amount of travel would be. We would have to break motion down into individual atom motions, like electron orbits (or some other subatomic motion I'm yet unaware of). How much time passes from an atom being at one distinct point to the very next possible point in motion? I labeled the first point of travel of an atom as A, and the very next possible point to travel as A prime. How much time passes as this atom travels from point A to point A prime?

Then a thought struck me. Can time progress for a traveling atom, even though no real motion has taken place? On the other hand, can motion occur without any passage of time? Let me try to diagram this in text:

T0 -> T1 -> T2 -> Ai -(T3)> Ap -> T4 -> T5 -> T6 -> Ap -(T7)> Ap1 -> T8
^^ Here, the smallest time units are smaller than the smallest units of motion. The implications of this occurring are that time passes even though motion does not progress. In this case, time could go on indefinitely between the smallest measurements in motion. A whole infinity of them really, and we wouldnâ€™t know the difference. An unlikely scenario.

Ai -> Ap -> Ap1 -(T0)> Ap2 - Ap3 -> Ap4 -(T1)> Ap5 -> Ap6 -> Ap7
^^ Here, the smallest motion units are smaller than the smallest time units. The implications of this scenario are that an object can be in two different spots at the same time. Quantum mechanics has shown this to occur with certain particles. I canâ€™t recall the instance though. Iâ€™ll try to find it if I can. So this seems more likely, but one would think the evidence would be more substantial.

I came to the conclusion that time is really just change and doesnâ€™t exist as its own entity. Its how we measure change, certainly, but without motion, would time still pass? If all motion were to stop, it would be like putting the universe on pause. It would not seem possible for time to progress, or if it were possible, it would be indefinable.

What do you all think?

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 Message 2 of 55 (432695) 11-07-2007 8:04 PM

Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

Hyroglyphx
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 Message 3 of 55 (432702) 11-07-2007 8:27 PM Reply to: Message 1 by Salamander11-07-2007 4:54 PM

Time, space, matter = 1
 Is time an actual entity or just a concept?

Time, space, and matter are intimately connected, as you can't have one without the other. Well, actually you could conceivably have space and time without matter, but certainly not matter without space or time.

 We all use time to measure how long things take to move, but is there more to it than that?

Intervals of time, like: seconds, minutes, hours, etc are human constructs as a way of measuring time for practical reasons. But, yes, there is a whole lot more to it than just the mere concept of time itself-- namely, you couldn't exist without it. At least not in bodily form, anyhow.

 Can time progress for a traveling atom, even though no real motion has taken place?

An atom is a unit of matter. I would think that matter wouldn't effect time, but time would effect matter. Black Holes are a good example of this. Beyond that we're getting in to quantum mechanics. I'm just about worthless at that point. But there are a few good minds here at EvC who could use their expertise to answer your questions with more sophistication.

 I came to the conclusion that time is really just change and doesnâ€™t exist as its own entity. Its how we measure change, certainly, but without motion, would time still pass? If all motion were to stop, it would be like putting the universe on pause. It would not seem possible for time to progress, or if it were possible, it would be indefinable.

I don't see how that would be possible. Motion means matter. Matter means space to exist in. And time and space are basically the same thing because of the space-time continuum.

I know these are hard concepts to illustrate because they are so integral that we simply take it for granted. For me, its like trying to define the word "the," without using the word "the" in the definition itself, or like using a sentence without any conjunctions at all.

â€œThis lifeâ€™s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.â€ -William Blake

 This message is a reply to: Message 1 by Salamander, posted 11-07-2007 4:54 PM Salamander has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 3377 days)
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 Message 4 of 55 (432709) 11-07-2007 8:50 PM Reply to: Message 1 by Salamander11-07-2007 4:54 PM

Newton's idea
I. Newton had the idea that there could be "conspiring motions at rest" but discounted this possiblity in favor of some detailed chemistry.

I tend to find the relations between forms of death (upper left corner) and biochemical possibilities

 Click to enlarge

to be so underdetermined that I do not yet need to try to fathom such things as atoms out of time. I think that Cantor' knowing of Russel's paradox BEFORE Russel and the failure to find this "fact" applied in empirical geometry trumps speculations of quantum mechanical discrete space and jumps etc, at least for now, for me, for my own intuition.

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Hyroglyphx
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 Message 5 of 55 (432728) 11-07-2007 10:44 PM Reply to: Message 4 by Brad McFall11-07-2007 8:50 PM

Re: Newton's idea
........................................ I saw incoherent ramblings. What are we supposed to make of this and how does it answer or relate to the OP?

Lastly, I can't read your excerpts, so it seems useless to post them. Of those that I can read, they often have nothing to do with anything.

â€œThis lifeâ€™s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.â€ -William Blake

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Taz
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 Message 6 of 55 (432733) 11-07-2007 11:06 PM Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx11-07-2007 10:44 PM

Re: Newton's idea
Nem, you've finally given yourself away as the most unintelligent person on this board. Seriously, we all can always read and understand fully what Brad says. Considering the fact that he always writes at a 9th grade level, you'd have to be pretty unintelligent to not understand him.

His post there makes perfect sense to me. All I had to do was deplete my year's supply of drugs...

Owing to the deficiency of the English language, I have occasionally used the academic jargon generator to produce phrases that even I don't fully understand. The jargons are not meant to offend anyone or to insult anyone's intelligence!

 This message is a reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-07-2007 10:44 PM Hyroglyphx has responded

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Hyroglyphx
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Posts: 5881
From: Austin, TX
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 Message 7 of 55 (432735) 11-07-2007 11:31 PM Reply to: Message 6 by Taz11-07-2007 11:06 PM

Re: Newton's idea
 Nem, you've finally given yourself away as the most unintelligent person on this board.

Yessssssss!!! Neener-neener ;) Sorry, I'm a sore winner.

 Seriously, we all can always read and understand fully what Brad says. Considering the fact that he always writes at a 9th grade level, you'd have to be pretty unintelligent to not understand him.

I wonder if its schizophrenia. (No, I'm not being facetious). Its just all over the place with tangent after tangent. He even has tangents for his tangents. *shrugs*

â€œThis lifeâ€™s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.â€ -William Blake

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Taz
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 Message 8 of 55 (432740) 11-07-2007 11:57 PM Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx11-07-2007 11:31 PM

Re: Newton's idea
Let just say that he makes me question my own comprehension of the English language.

Owing to the deficiency of the English language, I have occasionally used the academic jargon generator to produce phrases that even I don't fully understand. The jargons are not meant to offend anyone or to insult anyone's intelligence!

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fgarb
Member (Idle past 3735 days)
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Joined: 11-08-2007

 Message 9 of 55 (432755) 11-08-2007 1:41 AM Reply to: Message 1 by Salamander11-07-2007 4:54 PM

Hi all,

Here's my first post. I stumbled upon this forum a while ago and was impressed with a lot of the intelligent comments Iâ€™ve read on here. I doubt Iâ€™ll have time to be super active or anything, but I hope I will be able to post every now and then. I thought I might try and add something to this particular topic.

I hope my quote boxes work ...

 Salamander writes:I was thinking over Zeno's dichotomy paradox. He states that we can never fully reach any point because to get to the point, we must first go half way to it, but before that, half way to the half way point, ad infinitum. Seeing as how we do reach points all the time (ie, I never have any problem getting to work), it seems there is no real paradox here, yet the reasoning is sound.

You should be aware that this â€œparadoxâ€ was conclusively solved hundreds of years ago with the invention of calculus. The techniques developed for adding up an infinite number of things are known as integration. If the things you are adding up become sufficiently small (in this case, the time it takes to go each halfway distance) then the integration will result in a non-infinite result. There is no need for time intervals to have a definite smallest size for this to work.

 Salamander writes:The implications of this scenario are that an object can be in two different spots at the same time. Quantum mechanics has shown this to occur with certain particles. I canâ€™t recall the instance though. Iâ€™ll try to find it if I can. So this seems more likely, but one would think the evidence would be more substantial.

You probably think this about quantum mechanics as the result of a sloppy science popularization. If I may be permitted my own sloppiness, what quantum mechanics says is that you canâ€™t normally think of the particle as having a definite location. A scientist can calculate the probability that if you look in a particular location you will find the particle there, and thereâ€™s also some chance it will be somewhere else if you look there, but you wonâ€™t really know unless you perform the experiment. To say this means that the particle is in two places at once seems pretty fishy to me, and as far as I am aware this quantum strangeness in no way suggests anything about the structure of time.

 Salamander writes:I came to the conclusion that time is really just change and doesnâ€™t exist as its own entity. Its how we measure change, certainly, but without motion, would time still pass? If all motion were to stop, it would be like putting the universe on pause. It would not seem possible for time to progress, or if it were possible, it would be indefinable.

Questions such as these are not just philosophical, they are also studied in physics departments around the world. Billions of dollars are currently being spent on experiments to probe the structure of how the universe works (look up the Tevatron or the Large Hadron Collider if you are interested), and they could conceivably shed some light on the question of whether there really is a smallest unit of time and what time really is on a deep level. Some of the theoretical physicists who seem to hang out on the cosmology forum could probably add a lot of expertise to this discussion if they notice it. Thereâ€™s also a very good (but quite detailed) book that covers some current theories on the physics of time that you might be interested in called The Fabric of the Cosmos.

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PurpleYouko
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 Message 10 of 55 (432805) 11-08-2007 10:08 AM Reply to: Message 1 by Salamander11-07-2007 4:54 PM

I have often thought about these very same things (strangely enough)
For me it all started during my college years when a professor informed us that time was suspected to be 'quantized'

If this is true then it does bring up some incredibly strange ideas when you get right down to what happens between one quanta of time and the next.

To me this would mean that the universe would be like a cartoon or a giant 3D computer screen in which motion is actually just a series of still shots, each one remaining in place for one quanta of time before instantly jumping to a new still shot with all the 'pixels' (for want of a better word) moved a little.
Things moving at different speeds would move a different number of pixels from one quanta to the next.
Would the pixels be in fixed positions? just turned on or off as chunks of matter move through them? or would they be more fluid?
How many pixels would an electron take up?
1?
1000?

Taken to it's extreme, this concept could mean that the entire universe is actually a gigantic (insert really cool science fictiony name here) computer system running a really complex Life Simulation program. :)
Maybe God is a little kid playing with his dad's computer. ;)

I even wrote a story about this a few years ago when I was holed up in an Italian hotel with nothing much to do.
You can find it HERE if you are even remotely interested.

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Member (Idle past 3377 days)
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 Message 11 of 55 (432877) 11-08-2007 7:52 PM Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx11-07-2007 10:44 PM

Regarding Newton's idea
Well letâ€™s hear it from to the Master- Isaac himselfâ€¦
 Click to enlarge

â€œThe Parts of all homogeneal hard Bodies which fully touch one another, stick together very strongly. And for explaining how this may be , some have invented hooked Atoms, which is begging the Question; and others tell us that Bodies are glued together by rest, that is, by an occult Quality, or rather by nothing; and others, that they stick together by conspiring Motions, that is, by relative rest amongst themselves. I had rather infer from their Cohesion, that their Particles attract one another by some force, which in immediate Contact is exceedingly strong, at small distances performs the chymical Operations abo ve-mentioned, and reaches not far from the Particles with any sensible Effect.â€

OPTICKS: OR, A TREATISE OF THE Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours OF LIGHT page 388 (I, Brad McFall, wrote on November 5th 1994 â€œRusselâ€™s deathâ€ (â€˜when I die I shall rotâ€™) is Newtonâ€™s acidic deconstruction of Living Organismâ€ â€œthe decomposed organism is earth or salt?â€(in Newtonâ€™s intention))

A traveling atom, of(

 Can time progress for a traveling atom, even though no real motion has taken place?
) must unstuck or unhook or unglue orâ€¦uncohere or repulse according to Newtonâ€™s thought but rather than there being nothing here I. Newton â€œinferredâ€ very near to the Particles that have to travel a performance of chemistry which in our more modern interpretation contains the orbitals mentioned in the OP for as near as the travel needs be.

But if one thinks that this atom travel involves Parts conspiring relative amongst their own community of unstickynessing then indeed an occult Quality can dominate the nothing, a relativity amongst the fully touching at one time ones, or even the very materiality of rest.

When Bertrand Russell dies, may he rest in peace, that too could also indeed be in here. I simply doubted that.

Since it seemed to me that Russellâ€™s materialism is fully in accord with Newtonâ€™s â€œabove-mentioned chymical Operationsâ€ there seems no need to address time â€œsmallerâ€ with any other ligusitics than Newtonâ€™s. Sure one can just simply state motion where in â€œhere the smallest time units are smaller than the smallest units of motionâ€ but if this is supposed to NOT represent chemical or biochemical reactions NOR Newtonâ€™s relation of the FIGURE of THE EARTH to these bodies with parts hard and homogenal even in Life then indeed we seem to be rather on Kantâ€™s duration of time instead of the atoms that the OP opened with and I can relate somewhat to our human â€œsenseâ€. It is not illness I am afraid.

Kant said,

quote:
â€œI am conscious of my own existence as determined in time. All determination in regard to time presupposes the existence of something permanent in perception. But this permanent something cannot be something in me, for the very reason that my existence in time is itself determined by this permanent something. It follows that the perception of this permanent existence is possible only though a thing without me, and not through the mere representation of a thing without me. Consequently, the determination of my existence in time is possible only through the existence of real things external to me. Now, consciousness in time is necessarily connected with the consciousness of the possibility of this determination in time. Hence it follows, that consciousness in time is necessarily connected also with the existence of things without me, inasmuch as the existence of these things is the condition of determination in time. That is to say, the consciousness of my own existence is at the same time an immediate consciousness of the existence of other things without me.â€
(I. Kant Critique of Pure Reason page 150 Barnes & Noble edition)

It seems that the Salamander tried to remove the immediate consciousness of the existence of other things outside us. I saw no need to do this and that is what I said.

Thanks for asking for clarification. I would welcome some other representation than the one I offered but unless the perception or sense biologically is advanced by such, I find it useless with regards this time.

 This message is a reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx, posted 11-07-2007 10:44 PM Hyroglyphx has responded

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Fosdick
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 Message 12 of 55 (432879) 11-08-2007 8:37 PM Reply to: Message 11 by Brad McFall11-08-2007 7:52 PM

Kant and the Huns
Brad, is it possible that Kantâ€™s critique of pure reason was a consequence of his corns and of the starvation for the love his mother never gave him, nor his father, because he was a queer and ugly child who wet the bed often and barfed at the dinner table while his family prayed to the Lord that the Huns would come by and take him away?

â€”HM

Edited by Hoot Mon, : added stuff

Edited by Hoot Mon, : added more stuff

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Member (Idle past 3377 days)
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 Message 13 of 55 (432880) 11-08-2007 8:46 PM Reply to: Message 12 by Fosdick11-08-2007 8:37 PM

Re: Kant and the Huns
No-not for me.

Russell was of the series that Kant's transcendental asthetic was invalid. I can read it. It is. Psychology is something altogether different. There may be more on time and Kant relative to this thread but I would like to await response bout the atoms vs quarks etc.

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Hyroglyphx
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 Message 14 of 55 (432888) 11-08-2007 9:28 PM Reply to: Message 11 by Brad McFall11-08-2007 7:52 PM

Re: Regarding Newton's idea
Ah, but the computation of the pythagorean theorem clearly delineates the hypotenuse from other abstractions. Could not then time materialize as an entity devoid of quantum mechanics in accordance to the Inverse Square Law?

Precisely so, says Kierkegaard, which allows for the coronation to begin. Fractals, as they relate to light, shows that constant (c) is really just disambiguation of the more nocturnal states of constellations-- thus further relating to time (c).

The stellar configurations seem to offer absolution in this arena, thus conforming to Mendellian genetics, and the Hawking Paradox, respectively.

 Click to enlarge

Quarks, however, are exculpated due to the magnification of the greater cosmological assumptions. Bertrand Russel is an excellent source for understanding these ramifications, but dare I say that so is Sir Walter Raleigh?

This allowed me to extirpate with wild mastications all along the cerebral cortex, up to the cerebellum, followed by the precipitation of the corporeal quandry. Indeed, it is vexing.

Clustering such protons will eventually zero out to total utilitarian systems within the time-space continuum. And as we know from Planks Time, there certainly could be circumnavigation at this juncture.

But really, its all just so verbose to the point where one could not exhume the superfluous effigies that so dominates biological functions.

It is decidedly so, says Lou C. Fur!

So, yes, it certainly seems that time exists within the soliloquy of space, matter, tinker toys, and chemical aberrations of the ventricular portals.

Could it be that the seething anomaly of the peripatus actually be mammalian, as opposed to more congruent symmetries? Alas, it is but allocation of vagaries. Because time and matter are all just paragons to be desired from more circumspect tallies anyhow.

It was once asked by Linneus, "Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?" Clearly this postscript is a trigonometry of the upper stratosphere. LOL! As if allegory were really just antipathy!

The duodenum of other distention of abdomen's is quite supercilious, insomuch that they calculate the neutrality of peripatric genetic drifts in engorged musings. Vapid, if you ask me, since its still fleshing out the ideals of post-modernism, but pre-French Revolution era.

But is it symmpatric? I can't say for sure. Cladistic? Well, that much is certain.

If I were a betting man, I'd find it instantly cereous, simply because we receive our emoluments via tantric excursions of a facile kind. To no avail, said Nietzsche, but only because diethyl hydrogen sulphite is mined in the upper quadrants of the Triassic period-- thus incorporating exigent circumstances.

Technically, you could use calculus to also calcify the mandibular angle, which is 45 degrees, depending on the onset of, what is otherwise known as, graphical flambering. Either way, its definitely within the parameters of the crux presented by Einstein. (Though both Gould and Mayr spoke on it postmortem).

That much seems obviously bloviating, even if it is baneful and elegant cosmological criterion. The fact that its cryogenic seems nothing more than hyperbole, if not reticence.

Do you concur?

Edited by Nemesis Juggernaut, : Edit to add

Edited by Nemesis Juggernaut, : edit to add

Edited by Nemesis Juggernaut, : No reason given.

â€œThis lifeâ€™s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.â€ -William Blake

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Hyroglyphx
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 Message 15 of 55 (432893) 11-08-2007 10:24 PM Reply to: Message 8 by Taz11-07-2007 11:57 PM

Re: Newton's idea
 Let just say that he makes me question my own comprehension of the English language.

How does my jousting of the harangue in this tertiary instance fraternize with you? All just joules, or also emitting radio amplitudes?

â€œThis lifeâ€™s dim windows of the soul, distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie, when you see with and not through the eye.â€ -William Blake

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