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The True Nature of Time

Updated on September 21, 2009

The True Nature of Time

How We Observe Time

Time to most people in the modern western world is the passage of moments, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. We use time to manage our lives and to keep ourselves busy and ordered. Time is important to us, hence phrases such as, "Don't waste my time." and "Time is money." We place value on the fact that time is something we need to use in order to get things done. We have found ways to measure it's passage with tools such as clocks and calendars that tell us when we are expected to do certain things or complete things and to tell us what we've done. So we are constantly racing the clock, trying to be ON TIME.

Even early mankind knew that time was of the essence in the fact that nature seemed to be a clock all in of itself. The Sun comes up and goes down... this is a day and night cycle. The moon changes phases through out it's orbit and this is a lunar monthly cycle, and the planets change position with the changing of the cosmic constellations in the sky at night which show the seasonal and yearly cycles. These events helped early civilizations to plant crops and to know the times of migrations for hunting and in this way telling time has helped us survive in our harsh world.

Time to us is the constant linear flow of the present into the future. Every second that ticks away like a fast moving object on a highway that you pass is gone forever and we can't get it back. This is the essence we see when time is passing and it is the reason we feel the need to keep such close track of it. Time to us is of the essence and it is linked to all aspects of our daily lives.

Dilbert explores the aspects of time.
Dilbert explores the aspects of time.

The Nature of Time

So what is the real nature of time? Is it really a linear field of movement like something akin to a river that flows constantly? Or is time something different than the construct we seem to use it for in our lives?

Our observations of time are inherently linked to the 2nd law of thermal dynamics where in The Increased entropy of an isolated system that is not in equilibrium tends to increase over time. So then we will never see a system of warmth heating a hotter system of warmth, but you can see the hotter systems increased entropy effecting the heat of the warm system. There is a natural flow where the systems equilibrium breaks down into more chaotic constituents. So another way to view the 2nd Law would be to observe the way things work in nature. Energy is used to create something new and ordered but as the energy becomes disordered that system of energy breaks down into a increased state of chaos. We see this in life as people age, in ice when it melts into water, the radioactive decay of uranium and so on.

Our view of ordered linear time is actually an illusion and is nothing more than the observations of the 2nd law in play. So this argument says that the decay of matter and motion in the system of the 2nd law is actually the very thing we see as time. Our own mental observations of time play a trick on us into making us think it is actually moving forward and that we are carried along with it. But as we can see the actuality of time is that it is inherently linked to the very matter that makes the universe. In a sense we exist in a continuous state of present and the only thing that is really going on is that we are observing the 2nd laws increased chaos of a ordered universe into disorder. There is no past and no future for they are constructs of our minds and the observations and perceptions we create to help us survive. Our reality lets us see only the decay of the system as the 2nd law cycles all around us, and we measure this cycle as a passage of time in a plenum of linear events. But if you can picture yourself outside the time space plane of reality, like rising above it you'd perceive a totally different reality  where time space momentum and distance are all constructs of a limited perspective relative to our existence in this dimension of reality.

The 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics and Time


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      mkhan 7 years ago

      The most real feel of time "the present" is infinitesimal. It cannot be measured. Measurement of time is mostly an afterthought. Time also has similarity to recording devices where "the present" resembles the sharp recording point like laser and past is comparable to the recorded material while future is the unrecorded portion. In this way past is just a memory. Similar thoughts were expressed by Mc Taggart when he described the similarity between written history and stories in their time characteristics suggesting that past is just like recorded material.

      Time is an emergent concept which results from presence of motion and forces. Time is caused by expansion of space. Time is slow where expansion of space is slow like around massive bodies. Amount of motion and forces induced into a given mass by expanding space is a constant, therefore when we increase external motion of an object, its internal motion slows down. This we see as slowing of time.

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      Foulksey2014 8 years ago

      Rather long-winded, but mostly accurate.