Michael Yeaman

Stone Sculptor, Accenture

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What is Time?

Time. What is it?
A seperate dimension?, an interelationship of spactial dimensions? Why does it appear to "flow" in only one direction? We seen to exist "in" it, yet its connection to our consciousness seems highly variable from "time flying" to "clocks stopping". Can we really understand anything about Time that would change our Science, Religion and/or Culture? And why do I like Doctor Who so much?

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    Mar 14 2012: Time is a measure of motion, ie. rate of change. The only reason there is any confusion about it is because our subjective perception is a singular transitioning from past to future, but the actual physical process is that the changing configuration of what exists turns the future into the past. For example, the earth doesn't travel the fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates. It's a measure of an aspect of motion, just as temperature is a measure of thermodynamics. Temperature is level of activity. Clockrate is variable because such effects as gravity and acceleration affect levels of activity and thus rates of change. One twin ages faster than another because of the effects on their metabolic rate, not because they travel different time vectors. Spacetime is correlation, not causation. One could just as easily use ideal gas laws to argue temperature is another parameter of volume, since changing the volume of a given amount of gas will have an inverse effect on its temperature, yet no one talks about "temperaturespace," because there is no confusion about the nature of temperature.
    For much of human existence, it was quite obvious the sun moves across the sky from east to west. The problem was trying to formulate a theory to explain it. Originally it was carried by Apollo's chariot and eventually giant cosmic gearwheels were presumed, before we realized it was the earth rotating west to east. Just as epicycles became ever more complex, now we have ever more complex explanations for how we move from past to future. The fact is that that cat is not both dead and alive, because it is the collapse of probabilities, the future, which yields actualities, the present. We are not moving from a deterministic past into a probabilistic future, it is these events which go the other way.
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      Apr 12 2012: Thanks for your comments...great ideas and I enjoy the way you wove probability into the conversation....I am a fan of the "multi-worlds" hypothesis as supported by David Deutsch among others.....I love being able to have all my cakes and eat them too!
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        Apr 13 2012: Thanks Michael.
        I would have to say I'm not a proponent of multiworlds, for the reasons mentioned above.
        Consider that the traditional concept of time, with the present as a dimensionless point along a vector from past to future, is very deterministic. Since you cannot change the past, or affect the future. On the other hand, considering time as arising from the physical activity in what we would call the present means your actions affect your context, and vice versa.
        If we had complete freedom from external influence, we would correspondingly have no reciprocal influence on outside affairs. So while it may not provide the comfort of multiple outcomes, it does allow you influence over what does happen.
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    Mar 13 2012: its a product of the universe, it is in our genes(i.e metabolism). but as to the points you made, is binding only to the material. i think time is a spatial(or lack of) quality.
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      Apr 12 2012: Thanks for your comments....hmmmm lack of spatial quality...rather implies our abiltiy to assign any charactersitics that relate to sometime similar....it there anything similar?
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    Mar 20 2012: Time I think is the slowness of matter.
    In your mind you can envision a sculpture you like to see.
    It is already created spiritual but to express it into matter you need to do a lot of work, spend a lot of time.
    If you follow the memory of your past life you can zoom in every moment so it's all there but to put it into words and relates it to someone you need more years than you've lived.
    Spirit doesn't need time to create many universes but to express it, to conscious experience it from a single point within any universe it takes time. Something like reading a book. Your moment is the page you're on as the story passes on while the whole story is present. One difference in real life is that we are that same spirit and our conscious reaction at will makes the story an interactive one. We write as we read.
    In fact there is neither space nor time. Everything changes continuously through consciousness, a dynamic process where as a whole nothing ever changes than the way all parts are distributed.
    It's a matter of vision from a singularity that contains all. You are, I am because of this.
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      Apr 12 2012: Thanks for your response....I beleive your thoughts about a connection between time and spiirt are quite interesting.....neither space nor time......

      Rather reminds me of the old Pink Floyd DSM line from Us and Them
      "There's no dark of the Moon really, matter of fact its all dark....."
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    Mar 20 2012: We "see" a motion of time thanks to termodynamics (entropy...). Maybe, we walk back in time, but our mind work "backward" and we aren't aware of it.
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      Apr 12 2012: Thanks for your comment....it appears that many scientists think that entropy or our perception of it lies at the core of understanding time....
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    Mar 15 2012: i would go further in describing time in its relation to reality

    Fake time (i.e reality) replaced the real(non-linear time) and just spun itself out like sensory hallucinations during sense-deprivation: generated by low level construct entities…or even by its own hypnoidal automatic process-like stream of association thinking. then it would be tottaly entrpoic, running gradually down-degenerating, but not slowing down in tems of real time; rather, it just discharges itself faster and faster into a vacuum, that of time as receptacle of being.
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      Apr 12 2012: Thanks for your comment.....you know I almost understood a few points you were making....I think I may need to spin myself into a few more sensory hallucinogenics. to catch up to you.....
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    Mar 13 2012: Your question is crisp, candid, provocative and relevant, all of the qualities looked-for in TED conversations. It is also a popular question. If you search on the keyword "time" you will find your question asked many ways in many forms. For the record, my theory is that just as we use inches to measure size and pounds to measure weight, we use time to measure change. If nothing changed there would be no need for time. Time is the unit of measure for change.
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      Mar 14 2012: Is it possible to break the idea of time down further, though?

      We could possibly say that we define an already existent unit of 'time' as a minute or a second. But if we weren't defining said units of time, events would still precede and follow other events linearly (probably), and we could safely describe this phenomenon as 'time'. What is -that- time?
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        Mar 14 2012: If nothing ever changed time would have no meaning. Events are changes. The present is different from the past because of changes. Without changes the present would be identical to the past and the future, in fact, those words would have no meaning.
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      Apr 12 2012: Thanks you two for your comments. I too beleive that time and change are definitively connected. Placing time as just another dimension has never seemed quite right to me. It truly must tie somehow into preception, our perception, all living things preception .... and change. I think I became a geologist because of my fascination with time, deep time and all its mystery.
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    Mar 13 2012: Frankly sir, you like Doctor Who because he's a charming bloke.

    I don't claim to know what 'time' is, but I think it's nothing but a byproduct of the nature of matter. At the end of the day, math has the best chance to determine what time is. Not being a mathematician, but merely being a fan of simply-explained scientific discoveries, I've come to believe that the phenomenon of time is completely dependent on matter and not vice-verca. I think you could separate a body of atoms (such as a person), reverse time (by rewinding the motion of all matter) and not create some temporal problem, because I do not believe that the state of the body of matter is dependent on the events which led to the state of that matter (such as a living human with linear memories).
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      Apr 12 2012: Or maybe its like the ninth Doctor says:

      Time travel is like visiting Paris.
      You can’t just read the guide book.
      You’ve got to throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs,
      get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers

      Or is that just me?