What is time??

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Shadow1, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    Time is a 4D spacetime distance (not a regular distance), it being the difference of spaces (plural). This spacetime distance is 'ct'.
     
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  3. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    SciWriter: Where/how did you come up with the following?
    Time is the difference of spaces (plural)??? Utter nonsense.

    You seemed to have read about the Minkowski metric used in Special Relativity, misunderstood it, & came up with the above. ct is not a distance. It is suggestive of one component of the Minkowski metric.

    From Special Relativity: The square of the interval between two events = DeltaX[sup]2[/sup] + DeltaY[sup]2[/sup] + DeltaZ[sup]2[/sup] - (c*DeltaT)[sup]2[/sup]

    In the above DeltaX, DeltaY, & DeltaZ are differences between (X,Y,Z) coordinates specifying the locations of two events. DeltaT is the time difference between the two events. c is light speed.

    The Minkowski metric is analogous to the formula for the square of the distance between two points in a Flat space: DeltaX[sup]2[/sup] + DeltaY[sup]2[/sup] + DeltaZ[sup]2[/sup] ​

    Just as the distance between two points in a flat space is invariant (independent of the coordinate system), the Minkowski interval between two events is invariant (Id est: The same for all observers). Neither the spatial distance nor the time difference is invariant (these are different for observers in different reference frames).

    Threads relating to time seem to attract nonsensical posts.

    Once again: Check Post 19 for a basic definition/description of time.
     
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  5. OnlyMe Valued Senior Member

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    Here we are at post 1102 and the best reference for an answer to the OP is post 19...!
     
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  7. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    I got it from here:

    I found this on the internet, by Eddie Current:

    The Pythagorean theorem works in three dimensions, too. If you see a blimp in the sky, you can calculate the exact straight-line distance to the blimp by knowing its altitude above the ground (the value z), as well as how far east-west (x) and north-south (y) you'd have to go to get right under the blimp:

    x2 + y2 + z2 = d2

    where d is the distance to the blimp. I don't have a 3D diagram, but you can prove it for yourself with a little effort.

    Now it gets interesting. This trick extends to four dimensions. Time is typically cited as the fourth dimension. Does the decidedly non-geometric idea of time work into the Pythagorean theorem? Incredibly, it does — but first, you have to convert the time measurement into a distance-like measurement. Then, the total distance you’re calculating is the spacetime distance in the bizarre four-dimensional world where east-west, north-south, up-down, and earlier-later mean the same thing, only in eight different directions. Represented by the letter s, spacetime distance (also known as a Minkowski interval) is determined by an amazing formula. Let’s break it down:

    x2 + y2 + z2 – (ct)2 = s2

    As before, x is the distance (for example) to the east, y is north, and z is up, but we’ve added a fourth term for time (t), which gets multiplied by a constant, c. Notice the minus sign before the term for time. When it comes to distance through spacetime, elapsed time counteracts spatial distance, and vice versa: If we travel a distance through space, and do it in a very short interval of time,* the distance traversed is effectively reduced. This is why a space traveler could reach stars across the galaxy within their lifetime if they got close enough to the speed of light. Time goes in the opposite “direction” of space!

    That constant, represented by c? It’s the same c that represents the speed of light in equations such as E = mc2. What better number to convert units of time (seconds) into a distance-like measurement — after all, we know that for light, there are 186,000 miles per second. See what Einstein did there? The speed of light is more than just a speed; it’s a universal conversion factor that turns time into a distance-like measurement. By treating time as a negative and multiplying it by c, we can exchange time and space in our formulas as readily as nature exchanges them. That’s what special relativity is all about.

    It’s as if the presence of mass causes “zero” to pull apart into the familiar ideas of spatial distance and temporal duration, like taffy. But since the universe is by definition everything there is, you have to be inside the universe to witness this incredible stretching apart of zero, to experience space and time as different things. If you were taking in the all-seeing “God’s-eye view” from a timeless, spaceless, massless perspective outside, you would see the same thing the speed-of-light traveler sees — nothing. To witness the action, you have to be inside the theater, in your seat.

    Space and time cancel out to exactly zero for the universe as a whole. But that’s just one example of the zero-sum nature of the physical world. A few others:

    • The kinetic energy of everything in the universe is exactly balanced by the gravitational potential energy of everything in the universe. The latter is expressed as a negative number, just as time is in the spacetime formula. A while back Alex Filippenko, who’s a familiar smiling face to science-TV geeks, co-wrote an essay about how this means the universe may have come from “nothing at all.” Like the pulling apart of space and time, kinetic energy and gravitational potential were also pulled apart in the Big Bang.

    • For similar reasons, the net charge of the universe is generally believed to be zero, with the number of positively charged particles equaling the number of negative. (This is unproven.)

    • Certain pairs of phenomena, like electricity and magnetism or mass and the curvature of space, are linked such that they seem to keep each other in check. The great physicist John Wheeler was fascinated by these “automatic” connections, pointing out how they are constrained together by zero sums, the way the ends of a see-saw are always the same total distance from horizontal. “That this principle should pervade physics, as it does,” he asked in 1986, “is that the only way that nature has to signal to us a construction without a plan, a blueprint for physics that is the very epitome of austerity?”

    On the one hand, it’s surprising that quantities totaling zero show up again and again in nature. But on the other it makes sense, if the universe is a closed system incorporating everything there is. As a teen I remember being into the Taoist idea of Yin and Yang — I thought that in the final analysis, the universe as a whole couldn’t be anything but perfectly balanced. On a level deeper than I imagined, I may have been right.


    * Slow speeds (which mean long elapsed times) cause the time part of the formula to overwhelm the space part, resulting in large spacetime distances. Spacetime distances only get small when you approach the speed of light, for example, covering 186,000 miles in 1.1 seconds — then the (negative) time part almost cancels the space part.
     
  8. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    SciWriter: You got your post 1102 from the article quoted your Post 1104?

    You omitted a few details.
     
  9. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    OnlyMe: Did you read Post 19 & compare with a few of the other Posts?

    If so, what is your opinion of Post 19?
     
  10. Larry Registered Member

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    There is an recent excellent PBS program, the Fabric of the Cosmos, in The Illusion of Time. Do a search for it on Google. Or link to:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/fabric-of-cosmos.html

    Basically, and as a topic for discussion is the idea of time as an illusion, with present, past, and future already existing together, inseparably. Certain types of time travel are possible if technical problems can be solved.
     
  11. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. So what do you think of the article?
     
  12. OnlyMe Valued Senior Member

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    I did go back and re-read post 19. I did not then re-read other posts for comparrison.

    Einstein pretty much summed up the issue of time, as described in your paraphrase of his comment. These discussions of what is time almost always take on a life of their own with a wide variety of attempts to objectify time. We, as in the royal sense of the word including all of mankind, have been working on that question since to dawn of philosphical thought, perhaps before.

    Beyond that my last post was just noting the humor in that near 1100 posts had been added since...
    __________________​

    My answer is that time is an observation of change. In that it is always subjective (relative to one's frame of reference). And yes change occurs even when there is no one to see or hear the tree fall.., but without the observation or a conceptual projection, though the change occurs there is no real meaning to assigning time to the event...

    IOW Anytime we asign some concept of time to change, it is we who define the standard of measurement, and then call that standard — time. Sometimes forgetting that it is no more than an accounting system of our own.
     
  13. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    @OP To suggest time would cease.

    That would be a stopwatch of sort. Time is a continuum, Count. Eternity would husband it, proving In Love.

    Look how they pop like proper nouns.

    "Stopwatch" must be a game keeper.
     

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