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Does Time Really Exist?

Updated on April 28, 2009

Like the sands through an hourglass, so are the days of our lives

Does time exist? It's an interesting question. I think it's safe to say it is, but that's just based on my own definition of the word "exist." In some sense, anything can exist if you can think about it. Real unicorns might not exist, but the concept of them is very real.

But, I'm guessing the question in this case is meant to go beyond concept. Of course the concept of time exists. We humans invented it. But does time itself really exist? Well, I'm inclined to think it does. How do I know? Well, let's take an example out of my own life:

When I was about 9 years old, and for my entire childhood beforehand, I was scared of dogs. I mean, borderline-phobia scared. But one day, my dad brought home a puppy. We named her Vicky, and she pretty much cured me of that fear. I didn't totally fall in love with her or anything, but it was impossible for me to be afraid of that innocent little animal.

Anyway, as puppies tend to do, Vicky grew up. She became a dog. And then one day, as dogs eventually do, she passed away. It was a sad time for our family, but we've moved on. Vicky was our first real family pet, and she opened the door for many more animals to enter our home.

What's my point here? Well, in a roundabout way, I'm trying to show how things change over time. Everything changes, but nothing changes immediately. Everything takes time. Time is the medium through which events take place.

Time and space have been equated by physicists, which can make it harder to visualize, but we move through time in the same way we move through space. In fact, most now consider time to be the so-called fourth dimension. The difference is, unlike space (the first three dimensions), time only allows us to move in one direction: forward. We can't go backward, and we can't really stand still. Some of my own research shows that it's possible to speed or slow the passage of time, but we can't stop moving forward altogether.

So, this is time to me: it's the way we move through the world that allows change. Without moving through time, nothing can take place. For every scientific equation you've ever seen, time is the final (though typically unmentioned) reactant. And the more time passes by, the more things change. And in most cases, time is a constant thing. It's the x-axis in graphs because it's so familiar to us as an indicator of a constant rate of change. It's like our rock; it's what we can always count on. Minor exceptions aside, no matter what happens, we can expect time to keep on going by.

Okay, I could probably go on about this all day, but I'm going to stop myself now. If anyone wants to hear more about my theories on altering time and how humans can use it to become superheroes, let me know and I'll do a hub on that.


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    • Blune Doyle profile image

      Blune Doyle 3 years ago from Streadgate, United Kingdom

      Nice article. I strongly believe time exists. In recent years there has been a wave of people saying time does not exist, they say it's purely a human perception, or an illusion, etc, etc. The arguments that time doesn't exist are always flawed.

      I read an article that claimed time doesn't exist because you can't see it, touch it or smell it. What a ridiculous argument, given that time is not an object (or a force or a type of energy or anything else). Time is a measurement. A dimension. Humans didn't invent time, we're not that clever. There can be no motion without time because motion implies speed, and speed is (as we know) distance over time.

      My counter argument is, if there's no such thing as time then there must be no such thing as distance.

      The people who say time doesn't exist will invariably complicate the concept of time. They'll say that a clock doesn't measure time, but rather it just measures the movement of its own hands. Again, a lame point, because that is precisely what time is! Another thing they say is, time doesn't exist, it's just an order of events. Sorry? First they say it doesn't exist, then they say exactly what it is!

      One more point. The comment above says "we are not aware that any other creature is self-aware". The irony!

    • profile image

      Chris 6 years ago

      What if everything is all the same. What if we always were,am, and will be? everything that ever happened, is happening, and will happen always existed? Time is a man-made invention. All reality is what we perceive ala Descartes Cogito. The Anthropic Principal justifies our existence, but that is a man-made hypothesis too. We are not aware that any other creature is self-aware.

    • LetterWriter profile image

      LetterWriter 7 years ago from Georgia

      The way I see it, there is time and no time. I think I need to write a hub to explain ... thanks for your thought-provoking hub.

    • profile image

      Robert 7 years ago

      I was thinking this over, and I am not a scientist. but i feel time does NOT exist. rather we just see things get from point a to b.

      The speed limit of space (light) does not FREEZE time, but rather freeze us on a molecular level. this causes us to think we are going through time, but really we are "cryogenically" freezing our selves by making our molecules stand still.

      I mean when you approach the speed of light you cant go faster.

      these means even at the molecular level you cant go any faster. and due to the rules of molecules they cant get closer to each other in the atom. so the ones going forward get slowed down, thus slowing down the ones trying to "Catch" them.

    • profile image

      Colleen 7 years ago

      The speed of light is a constant, time is not, according to Einstein it is more of a persistant illusion.

      "Einstein's belief in an undivided solid reality was clear to him, so much so that he completely rejected the separation we experience as the moment of now. He believed there is no true division between past and future, there is rather a single existence. His most descriptive testimony to this faith came when his lifelong friend Besso died. Einstein wrote a letter to Besso's family, saying that although Besso had preceded him in death it was of no consequence, "...for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.""

      I have to go w/Einstein on this one.

    • profile image

      white fang 8 years ago

      i do not aggree with you about time exists.

    • lbtrader profile image

      lbtrader 8 years ago from Canada

      Wait....there's was more to that...a good book that goes into that is 2012 by Whitley Schreiber. It's about a writer who is writing a book called 2012 but affecting the world of another group of people in another dimension in the year 2012....weird stuff......

    • lbtrader profile image

      lbtrader 8 years ago from Canada

      Maybe you should do a hub to connect time and memory....

      Is there time for people with advanced alzheimers?

      I was recently reflecting on time and the possibility of multi dimensional realities. Something like that Matrix movie. However i thought that maybe you are only there because i think you are there or remember you being there.

      I know it doesn't make much sense.

      If there were infinite realities then it would make sense that each one of us is a singularity fabricating a duality. A program for each individual where there really is no end. Death is just an erased file in the program in one person's dimension but not in the other person's dimension.

      Infinite dimensions......go with that.

      In the end we are all one and the same a singularity divided into experiences of time and memory.

      Your x chart is part of that quantum graph and somewhere in that infinity we are bound to the matrix that we believe.

      It might make more sense in my next dimension....

      Doh!!!! There i wen't again................

    • reggieTull profile image

      reggieTull 8 years ago from Virtual Space

      I have really enjoyed reading your piece.  I thank you for responding to the request.  I agree with your observations. It certainly feels to humans that time exists, but a physicist once said to me that he could prove mathematically that time did not exist.  I have not researched this - but we do know that space exists and as you point out - space and time get muddled together.  Time could be our own mental construct.  For example, possibly events simply happen in space and the continuation of space define our lives.  Sounds like you have played around, like myself, with time dilation experiments - I have tried to change my thinking thereby living in one infinite time dilated moment, hence no time.  It is difficult.  Time also can be past and future in terms of our mind space.  Oh I must stop - thanks for getting me going. Good hub.

    • profile image

      shreekrishna 8 years ago

      great article ,

      you can write more great & attractive hubs in future.