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Thread: Can you answer the most fundamental question about time?

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Can you answer the most fundamental question about time?

    This is the most fundamental question concerning time:

    If time doesn't exist as such, if the only reality of time is to be a mere convention, a convenience to ensure the necessary synchronisation of our activities across society, including the synchronisation of our machines and of our scientific instruments, then how is it at all possible to durably synchronise different clocks, among other things? Assuming a number of clocks are set to read the same as some master clock, and assuming time doesn't exist, why would the clocks stay synchronised at all?
    EB

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    I think that the observation of motion of any kind implies the existence of time.

    In order to describe two states of affairs, such as a clock hand pointing to one o'clock and the same clock hand pointing to two o'clock, it seems to me to be necessary to invoke a temporal dimension. The alternatives that I see would be to state that the clock hand is pointing to both positions simultaneously or that one or both states didn't or don't exist. Of course, both of these statements imply the existence of time by virtue of their use of simultaneity and verb tenses respectively. Maybe a coherent description of motion could be made that does not include time but, I certainly can't conceive of one. The closest I've seen have been statements along the lines that what we perceive as time is just motion in an ever-present now, but, as above, such a statement implies time. Whether this is merely a limitation of our language or not, I couldn't say.

    Perhaps our observations are like A Square witnessing The Sphere moving through Flatland, and what we see as motion through time would appear to a higher-dimensional being as static; a viewpoint where all states past, present and future states are observable. However, even if we are mere Spacelanders, passing through slices of Space-Timeland, neither we nor Space-Timelanders would deny the existence of a temporal dimension, despite differing subjective experiences.

    So to answer the question directly, I don't think synchronization would work if there were no such thing as time. In fact, it would be a meaningless term without the existence of time. The fact that we can synchronize clocks (or observe any motion at all) seems to necessarily imply the existence of tim.

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    We observe change. The moon, animals. Today time is clock ticks to measure chage and relative motion.

    in physics

    s = distance in meters
    v = velocity
    a = acceleration or rate of chime of velocity
    t = time in seconds
    d is calculus notation for change or a delta

    s = distance
    v = ds/dt meters per second
    a = dv/dt

    Distance, velocity, and accretion define how change is measured to a reference point. All based on the SI second and meter.

    Outside of that objectivwe feinition you gave to explitly define what you mean by time.

    It makes more sense in discussion to say change instead of time because time has a specific scientific definition. Instead of 'time travel' say is it possibly to travel to future changes or past changes.

    Psychology time is subjective ad passage of time as we experience it varies with our emotional stae and the state of our brain chemistry.

    'It has been a long day' means subjectively time passed slowly. 'Time flies when you are having fun' means time seems to pass too quickly when having a good time.

    Scientifically time is a dimensions as is three special dimensions in meters. Dominion here means a unit of measure, not a scifi multi dimensional reality. Time is not a reality, it is a unit of measure.

    I'd say science has supersede any metaphysical discussion about time along with psychology and neuro science as to subjective experience of rate of change.

    The word time is a loaded word.

    Before you start talking using the word time define precisely what you mean, otherwise you are just babbling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    This is the most fundamental question concerning time:

    If time doesn't exist as such, if the only reality of time is to be a mere convention, a convenience to ensure the necessary synchronisation of our activities across society, including the synchronisation of our machines and of our scientific instruments, then how is it at all possible to durably synchronise different clocks, among other things? Assuming a number of clocks are set to read the same as some master clock, and assuming time doesn't exist, why would the clocks stay synchronised at all?
    EB
    Search on Einstein relativity clocks synchronization. The answer involves relativity and time dilation, which has been demonstrated experimental. Between inertial frames time appears to run faster or slower. Withing any inertial frame a second always appears the same.

    Two space ships at rest to each other synchronize claocks. One accelerates away. To the ship that did not change velocity the clock on the accelerating ship papers to tick faster or slower. On either ship a 24 hour day appears the same.

    It is all a consequence of the finite speed of light.

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    Science and I don’t see eye to eye with what time is.

    Time doesn’t cease with our inability to measure it. Time tick tocks away with the passage of moments as they pass us by. In a world frozen, the passage of time will not be measured, but time persists independent of the very motion used to measure it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    I think that the observation of motion of any kind implies the existence of time.
    Strictly speaking, you don't observe motion. At any moment in time, you can only look at what is happening in that moment. Obviously, our senses suggest the reality of motion and indeed the reality of time. But, strictly speaking, perception doesn't "imply" anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    In order to describe two states of affairs, such as a clock hand pointing to one o'clock and the same clock hand pointing to two o'clock, it seems to me to be necessary to invoke a temporal dimension. The alternatives that I see would be to state that the clock hand is pointing to both positions simultaneously or that one or both states didn't or don't exist. Of course, both of these statements imply the existence of time by virtue of their use of simultaneity and verb tenses respectively. Maybe a coherent description of motion could be made that does not include time but, I certainly can't conceive of one. The closest I've seen have been statements along the lines that what we perceive as time is just motion in an ever-present now, but, as above, such a statement implies time. Whether this is merely a limitation of our language or not, I couldn't say.

    Perhaps our observations are like A Square witnessing The Sphere moving through Flatland, and what we see as motion through time would appear to a higher-dimensional being as static; a viewpoint where all states past, present and future states are observable. However, even if we are mere Spacelanders, passing through slices of Space-Timeland, neither we nor Space-Timelanders would deny the existence of a temporal dimension, despite differing subjective experiences.
    I might be that reality has four dimensions, all of the same nature, broadly "spatial". What we take to be the same clock at two moments in time would be two clocks in two different 4D locations. What you take to be yourself looking at the same clock would be two persons, one here, the other there, each one looking at a different clock.

    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    So to answer the question directly, I don't think synchronization would work if there were no such thing as time. In fact, it would be a meaningless term without the existence of time. The fact that we can synchronize clocks (or observe any motion at all) seems to necessarily imply the existence of tim.
    Do you observe motion?
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by fast View Post
    Science and I don’t see eye to eye with what time is.

    Time doesn’t cease with our inability to measure it. Time tick tocks away with the passage of moments as they pass us by. In a world frozen, the passage of time will not be measured, but time persists independent of the very motion used to measure it.
    Time is a measure of change. We observe never ending change around us. Try saying change instead of time except when you mean seconds. That avoids confusion.

    'The passage of time' refers to the cerasles chain of causality we exist as part of.

    It is semantics.

    'What tine is' outside of science to me is an unaswerable question. It has no meaning. Change is about causality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    This is the most fundamental question concerning time:

    If time doesn't exist as such, if the only reality of time is to be a mere convention, a convenience to ensure the necessary synchronisation of our activities across society, including the synchronisation of our machines and of our scientific instruments, then how is it at all possible to durably synchronise different clocks, among other things? Assuming a number of clocks are set to read the same as some master clock, and assuming time doesn't exist, why would the clocks stay synchronised at all?
    EB
    Clocks do not remain synchronised, unless they share an acceleration frame.

    Your question is founded on a false premise, and so is unanswerable. You could just as well ask "Why doesn't nature allow the existence of a vacuum?". Lots of very smart people were perplexed by this question, until it was discovered that nature is mostly a vacuum, and that the belief that vacuums were not natural phenomena was an artifact of a narrow worldview that assumed that a local oddity was a universal truth.

    As beings who rarely undergo sustained and rapid acceleration, we are ill-equipped to observe the fact that clocks with differing acceleration histories become desynchronised. But they do. Whatever time might be, Einstein showed that it is not universal or absolute. As your question hinges on the assumption that it is, the question isn't coherent, and cannot be answered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post

    Strictly speaking, you don't observe motion. At any moment in time, you can only look at what is happening in that moment. Obviously, our senses suggest the reality of motion and indeed the reality of time. But, strictly speaking, perception doesn't "imply" anything.



    I might be that reality has four dimensions, all of the same nature, broadly "spatial". What we take to be the same clock at two moments in time would be two clocks in two different 4D locations. What you take to be yourself looking at the same clock would be two persons, one here, the other there, each one looking at a different clock.

    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    So to answer the question directly, I don't think synchronization would work if there were no such thing as time. In fact, it would be a meaningless term without the existence of time. The fact that we can synchronize clocks (or observe any motion at all) seems to necessarily imply the existence of tim.
    Do you observe motion?
    EB
    Motion is a chamgem in position reltive to a reference poit. I observe motion. If not I coud not ctach a vaseball or drive a car....

    If you want to test perception of motion stand on railroad track when you hear a train coming.

    There are known limits of visual perception. Very fast stop action appears as continuous motion because of the response time of the eye. Motion on your video display is not continuous. It is a series of static pictures, just like movie film. Whether or not motion at our macroscopic scale is continuous is a matter for scince forum.

    You are talking about relativity and relative motion. By now that is very old news.

    Clocks can never be completely synchronized. Two clocks of the same design will drift apart over time for a num,ber of reasons.

    In the USA we synchronize to NIST time which is broadcast on radio. Today also the net. There are always imherent delays, the finite speed of light.

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    You stand still on the Earth’s surface and your position in space is constly chnaging. In a scifi story you step through a time machine and you are on Earth at an earlier position in space, and your watch has gone backwards.

    What is time? Is it your watch?

    As we move through space we stay in the same universe only position changes. For me regardless of time travel theories going back to an earlier position makes no sense. There is also your biology. If you go back in time are you the same age?

    The popular colored images of time are filled with problems.

    From relativity there is no possible absolute reference point. All motion is defined relative to an arbitrary set of coordinates.

    We csn plot on a graph the position of Mars relative to Erath versus time, seconds.

    Imagine a closed box with a number of balls in it. I shake the box and relative positions change, in this case what does time mean?

    It makes it easier to frame the question in terms of a simple example.

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