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What is time?

Wasting time makes you think what time is... How everything is connected... After long contemplation you realize that time is everything around you! Gravity, matter, space, energy... All of it cooperate together to make time pass.

Actually, why do we even say time? Everything in the universe orbits a bigger object, the Earth and the rest of the planets orbit the sun at different speeds but they all move around the center of the milky way at the same speed. That galaxy floats around some bigger object etc. at some point we will realize that everything in the universe floats through it at a constant rate, then space = time! We all float through this space-time and each second passed can (theoretically) be measured in kilometers if only we had a point of reference (we can't find it as everything we know moves at the same rate). The theory that we can travel through time when reached over-light speeds seems not so realistic to me after tonight. There is something missing, we just accept that everything is relative. Each object in the universe is influenced by a bigger object, but the universe as a whole is influenced by something even bigger and it floats at a constant rate around it...
What do you think?

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  • Jan 8 2013: It is relative and the consequence of the existence and behavior of matter.
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      Jan 9 2013: With that definition what would Time do if matter exhibited no behavior, that is if all matter came to rest and nothing ever moved, grew, shrunk, rusted, rotted, breathed, or underwent any change whatsoever?
      • Jan 9 2013: I probably had not business making the comment. I am not a physicist, but try to better understand what's been learned and apply it to what I think best describes the concept of time. I do think time is best understood from the point of view of physics. There are four basic forces in physics associated with particles. Electromagnetism, strong interaction, weak interaction and gravitation. It is this fundamental interaction of particles is what I meant by behavior of matter in my description of time.

        The gravitational force is associated with the attraction between a planet and the sun, a moon and a planet. It is that attraction and the dynamics of that attraction that create the cycles of day and night, seasons, the period of a year, etc., and consequently both a sense and reality of time.

        I hope physicists aren't cringing with this explanation. I don't know to what extent the other forces are involved with time other than they are fundamental to the dynamic existence of matter.
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          Jan 9 2013: You have every right to make comments here. Curiosity, interest, and a desire to understand what has been learned are all you need to discuss such questions as this. PhD's are for those who want to ponder such things 24/7. Anyway, do you think Time would be irrelevant if all four of the forces ceased to operate? In other words if the universe was just a bunch of inert, inactive matter where nothing ever changed, would Time have a purpose? That's my question.
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          Jan 9 2013: Don't worry, Dan. Most people who speculate about physics in TED conversations are not scientists either. Everyone is welcome to think aloud.

          It is best to consider expositions and claims about science in the Conversations to be lay expositions (or even sometimes pseudoscience) that would need to be confirmed by looking at expert sources.
        • Jan 9 2013: Actually ,the notion that physics is in some fundamental sense `timeless' has been widely accepted.
          "Time exists merely as a parameter for gauging the interval between events."
          At Planck length our notions of `before' and `after' is meaningless.

          "At Planck length, all geometric concepts break down, including connectedness, containment, locality, and especially order..."

          My point is: in some sense, our notion/ experience of Time is actually not there...
      • Jan 10 2013: Hi Edward.

        Let me try to respond to your followup question.

        It is only in the contraction of matter within the concept of a black hole where these forces of particle physics are described as disappearing or breaking down. In this environment time ceases to exist only to begin again upon the re-expansion of this matter and the return of these forces. That is why time seems to me to be a consequence to the behavior or formation of matter, in addition to being relative as investigated and explained by Albert Einstein.

        Physics tells us we don't have a choice as to matter existing as inert, or inactive without these four forces with the exception of the formation of a black hole where these forces cease to exist. By this logic time does not have a purpose, but is simply a consequence of the expansive reformation of this matter.

        The mystery of what constitutes nothingness and time is intriguing to me. If the black hole is timeless in the midst of ultimate particle concentrate is it possible nothingness "exist" in this raw form of this material just as in the realm of deep space there is a "nothingness" quality that is also timeless?

        Sorry for entering the Twilight Zone!

        What do you think?
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          Jan 10 2013: Well sir, I have survived longer than usual in this debate, but I have now become lost. I will stay on terra firma where my understanding allows me to feel safe. Where Time is simply a way to measure material change. Black holes; event horizons; the Blandford-Znajek Process; that stuff I don't get. So, I can neither refute nor support your observations in the Twilight Zone. But I enjoy following the debate. Time marches on; waits for no man; and heals all wounds. Be well sir.
      • Jan 10 2013: Hi Edward,

        Thanks for your time!! I don't think you are anymore lost than I am. The science of physics can be so beautifully exacting and satisfying in some areas, yet I'm willing to admit my wheels fall off when it comes to grasping the physics of this more elusive stuff such as time, but it's still fun to explore. Good day.
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      Jan 12 2013: The measurement problem: (P) If a quantity Q is measured in system S at time t then Q has a particular value in S at t.[1]
      • Jan 12 2013: touche! - but is it possible time has a spacial (s) component?

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