What is time?

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Speakpigeon
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What is time?

Post by Speakpigeon » Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am

What is time?

What it is which we measure with a clock.

As I see it, it all comes down to our impression that natural events occur with an intrinsic regularity, first and foremost the movement of the Sun around the Earth. This leads us to assume the metaphysical construct of time. By metaphysical here, I mean something we think is physical but that we cannot perceive as such, like we do pain, colours and shape for example. We can't measure time if by time we mean this sort of metaphysical construct.

That being said, man is the measure of all things. How could we have any notion of the temporal regularity of events if we didn't have in fact some kind of perception of time, or at least of something like time, something which is usually called "subjective time". Obviously, subjective time isn't too reliable since the notion itself suggests it is affected by psychological factors. Yet, there is little doubt that subjective time is our reference for assessing that natural events occur regularly.

Does any of this proves time exists as such? Not really. We can conceive of natural processes as having their own local rate of occurrence. Natural process occur essentially at the microscopic level. So, we can assume the rate of occurrence at the microscopic level to be foundational to time. "SI defines the second as 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that corresponds to the transition between two electron spin energy levels of the ground state of the 133Cs atom (Wiki)". This seems to give ontological consistence to time.

Yet, if we accept that the human mind is essentially a natural process, then it is very likely that our sense of time is based on the same sort of microscopic events as used in measuring time. It seems reasonable then to assume a common factor, which may well be time itself, but that could just as well be something else, something unlike what we usually think of as time, for example a sort of microstructure of reality affecting similarly our brain processes and electronic transitions in caesium atoms. You may want to call such a microstructure, of whatever would play the same role, as time itself. Maybe scientists uncovering this microstructure will say they have discovered time or the nature of time. Yet, it would certainly be something very different from what most people seem to have in mind when they think of time.

A crucial aspect to this idea is that such a microstructure makes our idea of time completely redundant. Reality would be utterly void of time. Instead, the microstructure itself would somehow trigger all events at the microscopic scale, providing a sort of universal regularity to natural processes. We can think of this as a variation on the notion of block universe. Here, instead of a growing block of events, we would have an unchanging block of events. It's a bit of a disturbing perspective but it is a logical possibility.

In this perspective, a clock follows the microstructure just as our brain does. Measuring time with a clock would be essentially providing a more convenient sequencing of our perception of the microstructure. A kind of measure, not of the microstructure itself, since we don't really care about it given that we don't even know it exists, but a measure more like a way to cadence and synchronise the various activities of all human beings. A mere convenience, somewhat like the bells of the local church to tell people when to do things. In this perspective, time, objective time, the thing supposedly measured by clocks, is a social construct, from which is derived time as a scientific concept.

Clocks don't measure time. They tell time.
EB

ADDITION:
If time was the occurrence of an event, or the succession of events, there would be no reason for similar processes to take the same amount of time. Instead, if you think events occur in time, in some sort of preexisting time, then events take a certain time to unfold according to their nature.
Unless there is a unique sort of fundamental event in nature.
Then the time for any macroscopic event to unfold would be a function on the fundamental events it is made of. In fact, I can't see any other explanation.
This would explain clocks without having to resort to the metaphysical concept of time, a concept no one will ever prove.
Thus, time is an illusion. It is the appearance to us at a macroscopic level of the succession of fundamental events, all identical.
Thus, all processes are clocks. Two broadly identical contraptions will tick at the same pace because they are two comparable sequences of fundamental events. They are nearly identical clocks.
And our own brain can tell time because it is itself a sequence of fundamental events. Because it is itself a clock.
We can do things in no time. Literally.
EB
Last edited by Speakpigeon on Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Logik
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Re: What is time?

Post by Logik » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:02 am

Speakpigeon wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am
What is time?

What it is which we measure with a clock.
...
Clocks don't measure time. They tell time.
What's measurement?

Rulers don't measure distance. They tell distance.
Thermometers don't measure temperature. They tell temperature.
Weight scales don't measure weight. They tell weight.
Accelerometers don't measure acceleration. They tell acceleration.

etc. etc. etc.

The same criticism goes for any measurement apparatus/instrument.

Scott Mayers
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Re: What is time?

Post by Scott Mayers » Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:40 pm

Speakpigeon wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am
What is time?

What it is which we measure with a clock.

As I see it, it all comes down to our impression that natural events occur with an intrinsic regularity, first and foremost the movement of the Sun around the Earth. This leads us to assume the metaphysical construct of time. By metaphysical here, I mean something we think is physical but that we cannot perceive as such, like we do pain, colours and shape for example. We can't measure time if by time we mean this sort of metaphysical construct.
It would have to be a 'relative' comparison between two distinct "cycles" for us to perceive meaning to it. The 'second' as defined from the Cesium atom is not time itself but the definition we give to an arbitrary standard. Then we compare this unit to another "cycle" based on our metabolism subjectively. If these were identical, we'd not likely know/sense time. A fly for example may seem to live a short life to us, but its perception of time would likely be related to its relative comparison of change with respect to something cyclic, such as the sun's cycle you mention.
Speakpigeon wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am
A crucial aspect to this idea is that such a microstructure makes our idea of time completely redundant. Reality would be utterly void of time. Instead, the microstructure itself would somehow trigger all events at the microscopic scale, providing a sort of universal regularity to natural processes. We can think of this as a variation on the notion of block universe. Here, instead of a growing block of events, we would have an unchanging block of events. It's a bit of a disturbing perspective but it is a logical possibility.
If your reference to "blocks" is what is referred to as static, this is how Einstein pictured it and I agree with. Time acts as just another static dimension where each moment is frame of 3-dimensional space, like a movie frame. The movie frames collectively create the illusion of time as a whole strip or "motion picture". It can be further illustrated that for every optional perspective, we have different possible frame sets for each single image, making up an infinite set of times as another kind of dimension. Each picture/frame is like a word in language in which we can use them in an infinite different ways to create different story lines.

What might be debatable is to whether it is discrete or continuous, similar to my point in the thread we are discussing on how we know when we begun existence. [When (or how) do "I" originate: An Ontological Puzzle...] I'm guessing that sparked your thinking on this thread too?

Belinda
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Re: What is time?

Post by Belinda » Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:49 pm

Time is sequential change.

Scott Mayers
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Re: What is time?

Post by Scott Mayers » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:02 pm

Belinda wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:49 pm
Time is sequential change.
But 'sequence' is just a linear set of things, as a line of points. "Change" may then be thought of as whatever one given point is with respect to another, like if we say started at point 0 on a number line, any other point NOT-"point 0" is a change of position. So time can be understood as just another dimension, like the relative comparison between two static pictures.

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time is entropy

Post by henry quirk » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:17 pm

that is: time is degradation

we get 'little' enclaves of 'order & complexity' but these are fleeting

mostly: as we live in the midst of an explosion, we have energetic violence (with its fleeting complexities) leading to dull homogeneity

time's arrow points to dullsville

that's what we measure (not a *'thing' but a 'progression')









*though, I suppose, it is a 'thing': that is, all the 'things' that flit and plod from the femo-scopic clear up to the galacto-macro (cuz without matter [the energetic interplay of] the is no entropy, no progression of decay, and no time)

Logik
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Re: What is time?

Post by Logik » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:49 pm

Belinda wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:49 pm
Time is sequential change.
Time is change.

Sequential (causal chains) and concurrent (unrelated events).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concurren ... r_science)

surreptitious57
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Re: What is time?

Post by surreptitious57 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:54 pm

The fourth dimension
An extension of space
How entropy is measured
That which stops inside a black hole
The temporal distance between events
That which is not experienced by photons
That which stops when light speed is achieved
A dimension that is not absolute but incredibly variable

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Speakpigeon
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Re: What is time?

Post by Speakpigeon » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:40 pm

Logik wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:02 am
What's measurement?
Rulers don't measure distance. They tell distance.
Thermometers don't measure temperature. They tell temperature.
Weight scales don't measure weight. They tell weight.
Accelerometers don't measure acceleration. They tell acceleration.
The same criticism goes for any measurement apparatus/instrument.
We measure lengths by juxtaposing a ruler to the thing we measure the length of. There's is direct, very simple, empirically evident relation between the ruler and the object measured. Lengths don't necessarily exist as such, just like time, mass, energy etc. But the object measured is directly comparable to the ruler. There's no metaphysical distinction between the two things as there is between a clock and time or between a ruler and space.
Then again, clocks measure the duration of processes or the interval of time between events. And there we recover commensurability. The process we measure the duration of is the same kind of thing as the clock itself, i.e. a process which is empirically evident to us, unlike objective time itself. So, yes, the situation is the same for any for fundamental dimension, including counting things. Time, space, mass, energy and some. Our brain interpolates the metaphysical constructs of time, space, energy, mass or numbers as a sort of currency to help the economy of our understanding of our natural environment. There is a metaphysical divide that seems irreducible between the empirical nature of our experience of the world and a number of abstractions our brain is able to use, and has to use, to help us make sense of this experience.
So, yes, the same criticism goes for any kind of measure we make.
Good point.
EB

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Speakpigeon
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Re: What is time?

Post by Speakpigeon » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:50 pm

Scott Mayers wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:40 pm
If your reference to "blocks" is what is referred to as static, this is how Einstein pictured it and I agree with. Time acts as just another static dimension where each moment is frame of 3-dimensional space, like a movie frame. The movie frames collectively create the illusion of time as a whole strip or "motion picture". It can be further illustrated that for every optional perspective, we have different possible frame sets for each single image, making up an infinite set of times as another kind of dimension. Each picture/frame is like a word in language in which we can use them in an infinite different ways to create different story lines.
There's nonetheless a difficulty with this view. It doesn't chime with our subjective experience of time, namely that we experience one moment after another rather than the whole block of our life. Haven't found any solution to that.
Scott Mayers wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:40 pm
What might be debatable is to whether it is discrete or continuous, similar to my point in the thread we are discussing on how we know when we begun existence. [When (or how) do "I" originate: An Ontological Puzzle...] I'm guessing that sparked your thinking on this thread too?
No. It was initially a post on another forum.
EB

surreptitious57
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Re: What is time?

Post by surreptitious57 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:58 pm

Logic wrote:
Rulers dont measure distance. They tell distance
Thermometers dont measure temperature. They tell temperature
Accelerometers dont measure acceleration. They tell acceleration
Is there any real difference between measuring something and telling something ?
Especially as the things being measured or telled provide exactly the same data ?

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Speakpigeon
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Re: What is time?

Post by Speakpigeon » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:00 pm

Belinda wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:49 pm
Time is sequential change.
How does that explain that it takes the same time for two people to grow up? Or for two ice-cubes to thaw?
EB

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Dontaskme
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Re: What is time?

Post by Dontaskme » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:01 pm

Speakpigeon wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am
What is time?

What it is which we measure with a clock.

Movement.

.

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Speakpigeon
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Re: time is entropy

Post by Speakpigeon » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:03 pm

henry quirk wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:17 pm
that is: time is degradation
we get 'little' enclaves of 'order & complexity' but these are fleeting
mostly: as we live in the midst of an explosion, we have energetic violence (with its fleeting complexities) leading to dull homogeneity
time's arrow points to dullsville
that's what we measure (not a *'thing' but a 'progression')
*though, I suppose, it is a 'thing': that is, all the 'things' that flit and plod from the femo-scopic clear up to the galacto-macro (cuz without matter [the energetic interplay of] the is no entropy, no progression of decay, and no time)
I could just as well have been the reverse... Why not? Any reason you can share?
We just prefer degradation?
EB
EDIT
Time's up.

surreptitious57
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Re: What is time?

Post by surreptitious57 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:05 pm

Speakpigeon wrote:
we experience one moment after another rather than the whole block of our life
We do not know if time is continuous or discrete and so you cannot be certain about this
If it is continuous then there are no individual moments entirely separate from all others
Now we can of course separate them subjectively but objectively it is simply not possible

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