## What is time?

So what's really going on?

Moderators: AMod, iMod

Belinda
Posts: 3791
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

### Re: What is time?

JayJacobus wrote:
If relative times are independent of each other, then they would not be calculable. They are calculable because they are all dependent on one absolute time.
No . Timing depends upon an arbitrary mean time. There is no absolute time. The timing of any event is related to the timing of other events.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/oct ... seyisland1
RCSaunders
Posts: 2060
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

### Re: What is time?

Speakpigeon wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am What is time?
Time is the relationship between the motion of entities. Just as length or distance and direction are the static relationship between entities, time is the relationship between entities when either their distance or direction from other entities changes (moves). Time, like length and direction, does not have any independent existense except as the relationship between entities that move.

Just as length and direction require some arbitrary unit which can be used to measure them, time requires some arbitrary unit of measure. Common ones are seconds, minutes, and hours. Just as there are no actual inches or feet, there are no actual seconds, minutes, and hours. All units of measure are human inventions.

Rulers and compasses are used to measure distance and direction, clocks are used to measure time. Rulers use a fixed length units and compasses used a fixed direction units. Since that which is being measured is change (in distance or direction) the device for that measurement (clock) has a fixed rate of change.

Time is not a substance or entity, it is a relationship. The relationships time is used to measure are real and exist, but only as relationships between physical entities. There is no time independent of those relationships.
devans99
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:21 pm

### Re: What is time?

RCSaunders wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 1:56 am
Speakpigeon wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am What is time?
Time is the relationship between the motion of entities. Just as length or distance and direction are the static relationship between entities, time is the relationship between entities when either their distance or direction from other entities changes (moves). Time, like length and direction, does not have any independent existense except as the relationship between entities that move.

Just as length and direction require some arbitrary unit which can be used to measure them, time requires some arbitrary unit of measure. Common ones are seconds, minutes, and hours. Just as there are no actual inches or feet, there are no actual seconds, minutes, and hours. All units of measure are human inventions.

Rulers and compasses are used to measure distance and direction, clocks are used to measure time. Rulers use a fixed length units and compasses used a fixed direction units. Since that which is being measured is change (in distance or direction) the device for that measurement (clock) has a fixed rate of change.

Time is not a substance or entity, it is a relationship. The relationships time is used to measure are real and exist, but only as relationships between physical entities. There is no time independent of those relationships.
If time relates to motion, time should speed up as more motion takes place. The reverse happens - according to relativity, time slows down as more motion takes place .

Only real things have a temporal start. Time has a temporal start; hence it is real - as in spacetime.
RCSaunders
Posts: 2060
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

### Re: What is time?

devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:23 am If time relates to motion, time should speed up as more motion takes place. The reverse happens - according to relativity, time slows down as more motion takes place .
Time is only a means of measuring the relationship between the motion of entities. Time neither speeds up or slows down since it is an abrbitrary means of measurement, just as inches do not get longer or shorter even with Lorentz contraction. If inches or hours changed because of changes in motion, actual changes in linear measure and time could never be detected or described.
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:23 am Only real things have a temporal start. Time has a temporal start; hence it is real - as in spacetime.
Time no more has a beginning or end than linear measure, pounds, or cups have a beginning or end. They are only the means of measuring the relationships of motions, weight, and volume. They are strictly speaking epistemological, not metaphysical. The relatioships they measure are real and metaphysical, as the means of measurement they are the intellectual invention of the human mind.
devans99
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:21 pm

### Re: What is time?

RCSaunders wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:09 pm
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:23 am If time relates to motion, time should speed up as more motion takes place. The reverse happens - according to relativity, time slows down as more motion takes place .
Time is only a means of measuring the relationship between the motion of entities. Time neither speeds up or slows down since it is an abrbitrary means of measurement, just as inches do not get longer or shorter even with Lorentz contraction. If inches or hours changed because of changes in motion, actual changes in linear measure and time could never be detected or described.
If a spaceship passed you travelling at near the speed of light, you would observe their clocks running very slowly. Perhaps a second on the spaceship appears to take an hour to pass. So time slows with increased motion. Which is the opposite to what you'd expect if time and motion had a relationship.

RCSaunders wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:09 pm
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:23 am Only real things have a temporal start. Time has a temporal start; hence it is real - as in spacetime.
Time no more has a beginning or end than linear measure, pounds, or cups have a beginning or end. They are only the means of measuring the relationships of motions, weight, and volume. They are strictly speaking epistemological, not metaphysical. The relatioships they measure are real and metaphysical, as the means of measurement they are the intellectual invention of the human mind.
Time has a beginning. There are several convincing arguments, here is one: If time did not have a beginning, we'd have past through all possible states in the past. Some of those states are equilibrium states. Once in equilibrium, we don't get out. We are not in equilibrium. So time has a start. Therefore time is real.
RCSaunders
Posts: 2060
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

### Re: What is time?

devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:50 pm If time did not have a beginning, we'd have past through all possible states in the past.
Assumes a finite possible number of states. What is the basis of that assumption?
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:50 pm Some of those states are equilibrium states.
An equilibrium state of everything would only be possible in a finite universe. That assumption requires the assumption of non-existence, i.e. nothing. There cannot be nothing.
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:50 pm Once in equilibrium, we don't get out. We are not in equilibrium. So time has a start. Therefore time is real.
If by 'real' you mean a real attribute of existense, as an attribute (specifically a relationship), of course it is real. If by real you mean something that exists as a physical or material thing, time does not exist. Everything exists in some place which is some direction from something else. Direction only has meaning in such relationhips. It would be wrong to say direction is real, meaning direction exists as a material thing, it exists only as a relationship.

You might want to think about what an equilibrium state would mean. Equilibrium does not mean static. Motion in a plenum is in equilibrium.
devans99
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:21 pm

### Re: What is time?

RCSaunders wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:12 pm
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:50 pm If time did not have a beginning, we'd have past through all possible states in the past.
Assumes a finite possible number of states. What is the basis of that assumption?
If time did not have a beginning then there is an actually infinite number of past states. Some of those are guaranteed to be equilibrium states.
RCSaunders wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:12 pm
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:50 pm Some of those states are equilibrium states.
An equilibrium state of everything would only be possible in a finite universe. That assumption requires the assumption of non-existence, i.e. nothing. There cannot be nothing.
We know the universe is finite. It started expanding 13 billion years so can only have reached a finite extent. Plus its expanding so it cannot be infinite (if it expanded in size then it cannot have been 'bigger than anything' in the first place).
RCSaunders wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:12 pm
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 2:50 pm Once in equilibrium, we don't get out. We are not in equilibrium. So time has a start. Therefore time is real.
If by 'real' you mean a real attribute of existense, as an attribute (specifically a relationship), of course it is real. If by real you mean something that exists as a physical or material thing, time does not exist. Everything exists in some place which is some direction from something else. Direction only has meaning in such relationhips. It would be wrong to say direction is real, meaning direction exists as a material thing, it exists only as a relationship.

You might want to think about what an equilibrium state would mean. Equilibrium does not mean static. Motion in a plenum is in equilibrium.
There are many sorts of equilibrium. One is gravitational equilibrium - everything in one big black hole. Another is heat death. We would be in one sort of equilibrium or another by now if time did not have a start. So time has a temporal start and I maintain that only real things (as in physically existing) can have a temporal start. If you think about empty space; that has fields associated with it and dark energy, so space clearly is something physical. If 3 dimensions are physical, why should not the 4th dimension be physical too?

The start of time implies a 'prior' state where no time existed. Then time was created. Something physical changed when that happened - so time has to be real (because it was created).
Speakpigeon
Posts: 976
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 3:20 pm
Location: Paris, France, EU

### Re: What is time?

RCSaunders wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 1:56 am
Speakpigeon wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:12 am What is time?
Time is the relationship between the motion of entities. Just as length or distance and direction are the static relationship between entities, time is the relationship between entities when either their distance or direction from other entities changes (moves). Time, like length and direction, does not have any independent existense except as the relationship between entities that move.

Just as length and direction require some arbitrary unit which can be used to measure them, time requires some arbitrary unit of measure. Common ones are seconds, minutes, and hours. Just as there are no actual inches or feet, there are no actual seconds, minutes, and hours. All units of measure are human inventions.

Rulers and compasses are used to measure distance and direction, clocks are used to measure time. Rulers use a fixed length units and compasses used a fixed direction units. Since that which is being measured is change (in distance or direction) the device for that measurement (clock) has a fixed rate of change.

Time is not a substance or entity, it is a relationship. The relationships time is used to measure are real and exist, but only as relationships between physical entities. There is no time independent of those relationships.
So we don't measure any amount of space. We measure distances. We measure distances as you explain, by comparing objects, at least in simple cases such as the distance between two nearby locations. However, we don't measure space because we don't know how to measure it. And that we don't measure space because we don't know how to measure it is not conclusive proof that space doesn't exist.

Same for time. Yes, I take your point that we don't measure time as such. Rather we compare processes to each other and use one as unit. So, in effect, we measure the rate of change and we call that a length of time, or the duration of the process.

Yet, again, that we only measure the rate of change doesn't prove conclusively that time doesn't exist. It just shows we talk of time, or indeed space, as if it exists even though we can't even measure it.

Relativity says time is relative. It doesn't say time doesn't exist. It says that absolute time doesn't exist, which is already something. Although, I don't think anyone knows whether even that is true.

Still, assuming as you do that time doesn't exist, what then makes two clocks stay (broadly) synchronised? I could ask a similar question about space, of course, but maybe answering the one about time will provide an answer to the one about space. So, do you know?
EB
Speakpigeon
Posts: 976
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 3:20 pm
Location: Paris, France, EU

### Re: What is time?

jayjacobus wrote: Tue May 28, 2019 7:42 pm
Speakpigeon wrote: Tue May 28, 2019 7:25 pm
jayjacobus wrote: Tue May 28, 2019 6:51 pm Time cannot exist without a function to create it.
Why not?!
Because it progresses.
???
Time progresses?!
Whoa.
Relative to what?
EB
Speakpigeon
Posts: 976
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 3:20 pm
Location: Paris, France, EU

### Re: What is time?

Belinda wrote: Tue May 28, 2019 2:25 pm Speakpigeon, clocks are synchronised because we agreed to synchronise them.
Belinda wrote: Tue May 28, 2019 2:25 pm We agreed on the criterion for synchronising clocks.
So, what's the criterion?
Say we have two clocks. We synchronise them and we watch them. What's the criterion for deciding that the clocks stay synchronised?
EB
Belinda
Posts: 3791
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

### Re: What is time?

The criterion is mutual agreement. Did you read the article about the inception of Greenwich mean time?
RCSaunders
Posts: 2060
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

### Re: What is time?

devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:45 pm We know the universe is finite.
Who's "we?" It is the currently popular hypothesis, but it is not conclusively certain. I doubt it.
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:45 pm The start of time implies a 'prior' state where no time existed. Then time was created. Something physical changed when that happened - so time has to be real (because it was created).
The only way there can be no time is if nothing happens, if there are no events whatsoever, that is, if there are no entities that move relative to each other. If there were such a thing as 'creation' it would be an event, and there would be time, but since you claim there was no time, there could have been not creation. There could only be nothing.
RCSaunders
Posts: 2060
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

### Re: What is time?

Speakpigeon wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm So we don't measure any amount of space.
That is correct but you have to be careful about the use of the word space because we use it to identify where something can be between entities. "Is that space big enough to park the care." In that sense a space can be measured, but we do not mean so-called metaphysical space.
Speakpigeon wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm We measure distances. We measure distances as you explain, by comparing objects, at least in simple cases such as the distance between two nearby locations.

Exactly! Though there is no reason the locations must be nearby--they can be light-years apart.
Speakpigeon wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm However, we don't measure space because we don't know how to measure it.
No! We don't measure space as an existent because it does not exist.
Speakpigeon wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm Same for time. Yes, I take your point that we don't measure time as such. Rather we compare processes to each other and use one as unit. So, in effect, we measure the rate of change and we call that a length of time, or the duration of the process.
That's right.
Speakpigeon wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm Yet, again, that we only measure the rate of change doesn't prove conclusively that time doesn't exist. It just shows we talk of time, or indeed space, as if it exists even though we can't even measure it.
If anything needs to be proved, it is not the non-existence of time, but the existence of time. Time as a measure of 'the rate of change' certainly exists as do all forms of measurement, but time, as a independent metaphysical existence, cannot even be identified (what are its properties), much less proven.
Speakpigeon wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm Relativity says time is relative. It doesn't say time doesn't exist. It says that absolute time doesn't exist, which is already something. Although, I don't think anyone knows whether even that is true.
Relativistic time as part of the model called space-time. It is only a model, a way to picturing the events attributed relativity.
Speakpigeon wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 8:39 pm Still, assuming as you do that time doesn't exist, what then makes two clocks stay (broadly) synchronised? I could ask a similar question about space, of course, but maybe answering the one about time will provide an answer to the one about space. So, do you know?
Nothing makes them stay synchronized. The rate at which things move and accelerate relative to each other is determined by the physics of their nature, their mass in particular. A pendulum is the perfect example. Two pendulums of the same mass and length in the same environment (say earth) will have the same period of swing. Nothing, "makes them have the same period except their own nature. If the pendulums are part of two clocks, the clocks will be synchronized by the nature of the pendulums. There is nothing else necessary to make them stay synchronized. Does that seem reasonable to you?
devans99
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:21 pm

### Re: What is time?

RCSaunders wrote: Thu May 30, 2019 1:34 am Who's "we?" It is the currently popular hypothesis, but it is not conclusively certain. I doubt it.
I gave you two sound reasons why space is finite. The alternative, that it is actually infinite in dimensions, is a spiritual belief IMO - things can go on 'forever' only in our minds. If that was to happen in material reality, it would be akin to magic.
RCSaunders wrote: Thu May 30, 2019 1:34 am
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:45 pm The start of time implies a 'prior' state where no time existed. Then time was created. Something physical changed when that happened - so time has to be real (because it was created).
The only way there can be no time is if nothing happens, if there are no events whatsoever, that is, if there are no entities that move relative to each other. If there were such a thing as 'creation' it would be an event, and there would be time, but since you claim there was no time, there could have been not creation. There could only be nothing.
Yet there must be a start of time. Paraphrasing Aquinas's 3rd way:

A. Can’t get something from nothing
B. So something must have existed ‘always’.
C. IE if there was ever a state of nothingness, it would persist to today, so something must have permanent existence.
D. It’s not possible to exist permanently in time (always leads to an infinite regress; but they have no start so cannot not be), so the ‘something’ must be the timeless first cause (of time/causality).

You can hopefully see that it is impossible for time to have existed for an actually infinite past period - it would have no first moment, the first moment defines the 2nd so it would have no second moment and so by induction time would not exist at all. As Aquinas points out something permanent and timeless is logically required - the first cause.

You are making an assumption that causation is not possible outside of time for which you have no evidence. Spacetime began 13 billion years ago. Before that there was something different and we are not sure what, but something must of caused the Big Bang. So causation before the start of time (probably the Big Bang) looks likely and is in fact logically required.
RCSaunders
Posts: 2060
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

### Re: What is time?

devans99 wrote: Thu May 30, 2019 5:21 am The alternative, that it is actually infinite in dimensions, is a spiritual belief IMO - things can go on 'forever' only in our minds. If that was to happen in material reality, it would be akin to magic.
You keep mixing up dimensions and that which dimensions were invented to measure. I never said "infinite dimensions." "Infinity" is only a concept for that which has no measurable limit, a concept without which the Calculus would be impossible.
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:45 pm Yet there must be a start of time. Paraphrasing Aquinas's 3rd way:

A. Can’t get something from nothing
B. So something must have existed ‘always’.
C. IE if there was ever a state of nothingness, it would persist to today, so something must have permanent existence.
D. It’s not possible to exist permanently in time (always leads to an infinite regress; but they have no start so cannot not be), so the ‘something’ must be the timeless first cause (of time/causality).
Nothing exists, "in time." That was Aquinas' mistake. Time is not some kind of "stuff" that exists independently, it is only a metric by which the relationships between things that move can be compared and measured.
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:45 pm As Aquinas points out something permanent and timeless is logically required ...
Yes! That's my view exactly, except that it cannot be without any attributes whatsoever. It is the universe itself that exists without measureable limit.
devans99 wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 7:45 pm You are making an assumption that causation is not possible outside of time for which you have no evidence.
And you are making an assumption about what I assume, and you are wrong. There is no "causation" as you mean it. The only "causation" there is are those principles that identify why things behave as they do, such as the principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine for which there is an abundance of evidence.

I don't see how our differences can be resolved so long as you insist in the existense of some sort of undefineable miraculous (magical) creator.