TED Conversations

Indigo cantor

commander in chief, Satori International

This conversation is closed.

How could we relate to the world around us without the concept of time?

I have often wondered about what life would be like if I could not include the concept of time. It is in EVERYTHING we do, think, talk about, it is a component of life that is completely man made, it seems to me it is the glue that holds everything together? without it... what do we have? how do we explain? where do we stand?
what is NOW?
So, how would you explain " life" without time? the universe without Time? all your thoughts without implementing time?

  • thumb
    Mar 5 2011: We are time, and time doesn't exist. This paradox drives me totally crazy too.
    • thumb
      Mar 5 2011: Agree. We are time and time is our creation. "To live between memory and potentiality is to live in creative space... with unexpected... the womb of constructive change... JP Lederach. Timelessness could mean living in the present where the past and the future meets -- the moment of complete conciousness.
      • thumb
        May 13 2011: well..I'll be sure to check out JP lederach..love your comment
      • thumb
        May 13 2011: JP Ledrach..fascinating..will go more deeply there..thnaks for pointig the way, Hannes
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 17 2011: But you need to let go of the notion that the single moment in time will pass. Ultimately when our consciousness is freed from this ride there will be no passage of time, only unity.
      • thumb
        Jun 6 2011: Aboli......................Living in the moment makes sense to me. The past we cannot change ...the future for us may never be.
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: yes gabriela but also liberating and exciting???
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: I love paradoxes like this :)
    • thumb
      May 14 2011: The reason of your heart-beats is the time. If you have some timeless reason which gives excitement to ur beats, it means you're time. If not, time doesn't exist for you. Because you do not have a timeless reason to live for. That's all. = )
  • thumb
    Mar 6 2011: Very interesting topic Indigo, and you ask some great questions! I agree with you that time is a "man made" concept, and in my experience, life goes on just fine without being tied to time. I have not worn a watch for 20 years. I have a clock in the home, but very rarely look at it. I eat when I'm hungry, sleep when I'm tired, and often get lost in projects, especially the gardens, in a "timeless" way. If I have to catch a plane or something like that, I set an alarm, but usually wake up just before the alarm goes off. After not being dependent on the clock for awhile, the body, mind and heart adjusts, and I usually know within a few minutes what time it is. I've never had a challenge with "jet lag" because when I arrive at my destination, I am immediately in that time zone mentally and physically, and not concerned what the time was at the place I departed. I live in the moment, and that time is only NOW. So, you ask how would you explain life without time? SUBLIME!

    Being attached to time seems to cause quite a lot of stress. I often hear the complaint that there is not enough time. Time is what it is. Why stress over something we cannot change? What we CAN change, is our relationship with time. I highly recommend playing with the idea of not letting time rule your life. Try it on a weekend or vacation when you have no time committments. Let go of the clock and an attachment to time for awhile. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but after the initial detachment, it feels very liberating:>)
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2011: :) Love this post thank you Colleen
  • thumb
    Mar 7 2011: Time is the invention of consciousness. Consciousness requires Time to follow the never-ending changes happening around it and inside it. Every conscious mind - from the germs to the humans - has a sense of time. We the humans, who have highly developed consciousness, have quantified the time giving it units like seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, centuries, millenniums. Time is inseparable from change. If there will not be any single change in the universe, including in our consciousness, time will dissolve, meaning, time will be meaningless. Time is the measure for the rate of changes. Time is the mean for consciousness to make order in an otherwise chaotic phenomenal world of changes. There's no such a thing – time as a stand-alone entity. Time is a concept produced by living minds to lay down a common scale to the infinite number & variety of changes occurring around us constantly, by giving them sequential order.

    No time means no change, no evolution. Meaning, it is the ultimate death of the phenomenal universe.
    • thumb
      Mar 7 2011: Yubal: I'm curious as to your response to the question - "why does does it only go forward?"
      • thumb
        Mar 7 2011: When you say it goes forward, you base your argument by watching different processes which move or occur from A to B and then you ask why these processes never occur in reverse. The fact you don't find processes going from B to A, make you to come to the conclusion that time only go forward.

        What I argue is that the reason we don't see processes occurring in reverse is that this is the very nature of the processes. The changes occurring within the process or within the constituents of process make the process moving from A to B and never vice versa. The scale of time we use to measure the timing of the process and it's other features, has nothing to do with the direction of the process. The scale is constant and what's moving is the process itself. Saying scale, I mean to time measuring instrument, suppose a watch. Saying the scale is constant, I mean that the watch pulses in a constant & known rate as designed by its manufacturer and what changes in an unknown manner is the process which is the very reason we are measuring it. Now, consider the watch itself. It is also based on a certain constant change occurring within its mechanism which we agree internationally to take as a standard. But still it (the watch) is nothing but a change.

        I have other imaginary scenario of a different nature to show you how in my opinion we mix between human made subjective scale (time measuring) and the objective reality (processes in nature). If you are not convinced yet, I shall give it.

        But first I want to ask you to try imagining at least one time-measuring of any kind – not necessarily by watch, but by even any arbitrary mean you choose like Sun, Atoms, etc, or even by your own memory or mind -- that any type of change is NOT involved with that time measuring. If you find one time measuring without requiring absolutely any change, I shall be glad to know.
        • Mar 7 2011: Your argument was quite stimulating,

          In regards to this statement- "What I argue is that the reason we don't see processes occurring in reverse is that this is the very nature of the processes."

          why does the directionality have to be the nature of the process rather then the nature of the observer and the system that the observer and process occupy? I think a great deal of emphasis has to be made to the frame of reference in which time is being observed in and how the concept and the day-to-day perception of changing states is embodied within the observer. I think this is the nature of human interpretation of time, or at least the soft-wired idea that we have of time and change. Think of a ball moving across a table- although in your brain the cognitive process simply adds several picture frames temporally, more complicated processes interpret it as a fluid motion with directionality. If that is true, we may simply be extrapolating the directionality of time because of the functional utility it serves in our lives, rather then it being an absolute truth of the universe. What do you think?

          There is nothing so stable as change
          -Bob Dylan
        • thumb
          Mar 7 2011: Thanks for your response Yubal.

          I think I understand your point about change being an essential element of time and that it is quantified by correlating it to some oscillatory event.

          I'm wondering if your statement

          "The fact you don't find processes going from B to A, make you to come to the conclusion that time only go forward."

          is leading to the opinion that at a different location in space/time it might be observed as moving in the other direction (that is the processes would reverse).
        • Mar 7 2011: Has anyone mentioned entropy as a direction of time? Order toward disorder. Drop an egg, it breaks, and all the king's horses...

          It has been offered that what we perceive as disorder is actually the very process of information we need for arranging things in newer forms. Time, order, and disorder. Entropy and information.
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: ralph - Is life a counter-entropic process?
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: @ Tim

          Yeah it is for the system which is evolving into a life form. But not for the universe as a whole. The entropy of the universe constantly increases.
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: Again, taking Yubal's description, in our context we have always observed the entropy constantly increasing, but need that always be the case?
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: For the purpose of discussion, let's assume an oscillating universe.

          Starting with a singularity (which must be the point of minimum entropy) the big bang occurs and the universe expands, thus increasing the entropy. At some point the process reverses and we arrive again at a singularity. Between the reversal point and the singularity, doesn't the entropy have to decrease?
        • thumb
          Mar 8 2011: That's a good question. I really can't answer that. If the universe indeed compresses and it is cyclic that would mean it also compresses towards a less entropic state.

          I just know how to describe earth bound entropy. It's really a matter of probability, the only reason why it occurs is because entropic states are a lot more probable. These are states which we concieve as being random.

          So the law is not like causal law of nature. Like gravity for instance, it is based on probability. Things could entropically reverse but it's highly unlikely.
        • Mar 28 2011: I believe most modern quantum physicists, of which Michio Kaku would be probably the foremost proponent, believe entropy is forever increasing (in fact at faster rates through time) and that eventually energy is so distributed that that life would not be able to exist due to the eventual inactivity of all stars within the the galaxy and eventually universe. Dwarf stars, due to their low energy burning rate would probably be the last celestial bodies that would be able to generate energy. It is inevitable that within this system there will be *random* oscillations that promote negative entropy (as some call it syntropy) and so do the potential for star and planet formations, molecular synthesis, and eventually... life. In that sense I do believe that entropy is oscillating within systems of the universe (this is more or less proven) but ultimately increasing. Life is definitely counter-entropic due its ordered nature and composition and even individually we try to go against the entropic surroundings that are often presented to us, in other words we try to control our system in order to keep our highly ordered selves. As far as time and entropy are concerned, I definitely feel as though they must be intimately connected on a very fundamental level (i.e. one creates the other or something similar), but I am having trouble expressing those thoughts in words. I feel like the topic of quantum consciousness is the next logical step in connecting these two topics. Hope this was helpful to someone :)
      • Mar 10 2011: That time goes "forward" is, by the way, is simply a construction of your language. There are others where the future is "backwards".
        • Mar 28 2011: But isn't the construction of our language a parallel to the beliefs of society at large at that point? Do you know where the 'future is backwards' phrase used?
    • Mar 9 2011: Linking time to consciousness and classification seems to take us back to Hume and Berkeley, and finally Kant, proposing the mind as the "a priori" process by which we can know. What is "order"? That which we perceive as "right". "Disorder" would then be perceived as "not right". (I'm not imposing "rightist" or "leftist" here).

      Making things "right" would then be an attempt to alter things as each perceive they ought to be, and that produces increasing disorder. Ideas follow entropy the same as the universe. Add to that Godel's theorem, which tells us that in any consistent axiomatic formulation of number theory(of sufficient complexity) there exists undecidable propositions. The most formalized method of imposing order will also reflect a measure of increasing disorder.

      Which leads me to speculate on some conclusions below. If life is a tendency to combat entropy, it can do so only by enlarging its understanding of all things in relation. If it seeks to maintain its own integrity at the expense of surrounding systems, it contributes ultimately to its own entropy. I think it rather strange that when Shannon developed his mathematical concept of information, it was similar, if not identical, to the earlier mathematical presentation of entropy. If events in "time" are ordered by consciousness, then consciousness must reflect the very disorder of perceptions from diverse sources.
      • thumb
        Mar 11 2011: Interesting. Can you elaborate on the last sentence - "If events in "time" are ordered by consciousness, then consciousness must reflect the very disorder of perceptions from diverse sources."?

      • thumb
        Mar 13 2011: oooooooooooooooooooo !@!!!!!
  • thumb
    Mar 6 2011: In classical Chinese philosophy there are actually three kinds of time: linear the kind we most of think of and is referenced here; cyclical; and no time. There are in fact people currently and throughout history that experience the world in a way that transcends the concept of time. It isn't easy to convey, this is why there are Zen koans designed to trick us to perceive the world differently.

    My question is, is there anything wrong with having the concept of time as part of our frame of reference?
    • thumb
      Mar 7 2011: Indigo, cool post. A little scary and daunting.

      Adam, fascinating. How would you describe Cyclical and no time? I'm not familiar with these concepts of Chinese philosophy.

      As we learned at TED this year from David Christian, we humans have the unique ability to not only learn in real-time but pass those learnings from one generation to the next. It seems to me that all of these learnings need a reference point in order to build on each other. Without time I don't see how learnings can transcend generations in this way. I'd love to hear the Chinese perspective on this and how that relates to cyclical time. Thank you.

      Indigo, I'm not an expert on modern physics but I believe that the concepts of gravity and light require time as a reference as well. Otherwise the Universe as we know it breaks down to something that would be immeasurable.
    • thumb
      Mar 7 2011: Good question Adam: "is there anything wrong with having the concept of time as part of our frame of reference?" Personally, I think it provides a valuable reference, as you and Bill state.

      For me, it is only a reference, when/if I need a reference point for something, and as I stated in a comment below, I am one of those people who is not attached to the concept of time. If we did not have the reference of time Bill, the information passed down through generations could still exist, and I don't agree that "gravity and light require time as a reference or the universe breaks down". It is humans who like to have the reference, and that is probably why we created the concept of time, don't you think? It gives us a frame for our lives. I think that's great, depending on how we use it. Sometimes, I think it is limiting, as when people take on the belief that they do not have enough time for example.
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2011: Wrong? I cannot answer right and wrong.. I do think we could literally go insane without the concept of time... although I have to admit I have tried and the only way I could get close was out in nature. I do believe that my mind no longer carries the innocence to experience a world without the concept of time... but I still like to try !! :)
      plus.. it is just so much fun thinking about it.... but ... is that a waste of time?
  • thumb
    Mar 5 2011: My answer might sound crazy from scientific perspective, however let me tell it from real perspective.
    Time is actually just a concept in our minds, a feeling that occurs as an effect of things happening in the universe. But, what is actually happening is that things that are supposed to happen will happen instantly without any time passing in between, and this would not make sense to human brain without a feeling such as 'time'.
    Human mind is trapped in concept called "time", which is crucial for human mind to understand whats happening.
  • Jun 10 2011: I have thought about this question, but to be in this universe is to be in time in some sense. Of course thats what Einstein confirmed. But I suppose thats not the end of it - new physics sometimes apparently treats all time as being present simultaneously. Indeed if you study Feynman diagrams you can see some interactions that work backwards in time (as we think of it).

    Clearly better men than me have grappled with this issue. TS Elliot for example in Burnt Norton.

    And of course there are the Tralfamadorians in Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse 5"

    Tralfamadorians say that human perception of time as linear and flowing with only one moment existing at 'once' is erroneous. (quoting here!). All moments exist concurrently and it is only an illusion if they appear to have any linearity. Tralfamadorians see people not as a single image but as a kind of wormlike manifestation that runs from the past into the future - from cradle to grave.

    I have often though something similar - that, at each present moment, all past and future moments are present but the future exists as a kind of set of possibilities. As the quantum wave function collapses, as it were, the many potential futures crystalise into one definite present that creates our history-line. Thus free will and cause and effect both exist in what would otherwise be a deterministic universe.

    About 20 years ago I had an experience that drove this home to me. I was sailing on a yatch in a storm when the main sail was accidentally and violently jybed onto me by the helmsman. I felt the boom brush my head and I was stuck by the traveller which flung me down and seriously fractured my arm. Even a half step more and I would have been in its direct line and without question I would have died.

    At that instant, even as I flew thru the air I had the most distinct feeling that the universe had split and in the other universe I had been killed. This was such a strong physical feeling I still feel it today,
    • thumb
      Jun 13 2011: Oh, the Tralfamadorians! Hello past reading experience, nice to see you again!
      It feels, though, that if you want to be treated with respect, not seen as a crazy dreamer, you are supposed to believe in time as a straight line. They say your life starts when the sperm meets the egg and ends when your brain shuts down. I can't believe that, and never will. Which makes me uncomfortable in some situations, but what to do?
      • Jun 14 2011: Much prefer to be a crazy dreamer :^)
    • thumb
      Jun 17 2011: By the way, Peter, I also had a experience long time ago (when I was almost 21). I was sleeping in my bed. I dreamed on a setting where everything was exactly as my room was. Each detail was as I knew by that time. The only exception was that there was another guy identical to myself, but his name was very extravagant, an alien-like one. He started a conversation with me, telling me everything about me and my own world. He knew it all. Then, he told me that he was living into a parallel universe, where everything was almost exactly the same way it was in this universe, but dimensions in that new universe were millions of times less than the universe I was living in (i.e., this one). Till this point, anyone can say that this is a simple self-suggestion of mine. The amazing thing here has to do with other things he told me too. He asserted that a train of events will happen to me the next 180 days starting the day after. Each of his predictions were fulfilled exactly the way he said it will have been happen, including location, time, people and circumstances from which I have had no idea at that time.

      I think this experience taught me that there's something wrong with quantum-wave function, because there exists (at least this is the way I read that incident) some location in universe (or multiverse) that has our destiny stored in some kind of hard disk drive and, therefore, when any one of us do something, here and now, it's because that teleological HDD is reading at once any bit of certain information that is reflected in the way everything displays as a process or an event. Let's remember that HDD has a random access to its registers, and the strong implication of this has to do with a very uncommon kind of non-linear time: the CLUSTER INDEXING TIME. That's it. Time would be just a random number associated with any pre-allocated position of the register containing the experience you are about to live in short. So, time could be anything but real positive NUMB3RS.
    • Jun 19 2011: WOW !! Everyone here at TED is a modern day Einstein (especially Peter) !!! To be very honest,I did not understand a word what you said (or trying to convey),Peter.It is maybe because I do not know much regarding this subject.Nevertheless,I am very happy that I am a part of the forum where I can get to learn so much(I really mean SO MUCH) from my fellow TED members.
  • thumb
    Mar 21 2011: This line of dialogue blows my mind!

    I teach a physics class and spend part of class nearly every week talking about time and speed. I think to have a well-formulated approach to time and the universe we have to take into account how fast we go, as Einstein did in his famous Theory of Relativity. We do now travel faster and faster than we ever did before, so according to relativity we are experiencing time very differently than our ancestors did. I love the fact that the faster we go, even though to our frame of reference seconds are ticking by in the normal way, to those moving more slowly time passes by more quickly! But we cannot tell the difference between our frame of reference and theirs, although I can imagine like in some forms of fiction that characters can move so fast that everyone else appears to be standing still.

    Still, something bothers me. If, as Einstein posits, we travel faster and faster, approaching the speed of light (which is about three milllion football fields a second) we experience time more slowly, doesn't it seem like we would be catching up with time? How does one experience time differently through speed if they do not have a unit or component in common? An head on collision hurts all the more because your frame of reference says that the car is hitting you at your speed + the oncoming car's speed. Wind's effect on us is dampened if we are running with it at our backs because it's speed is then wind speed - our speed.

    What if time is not separate from speed, less like a controlling continuum that a quantity with its own, constant speed? It would make sense then that we could experience it more slowing, by traveling fast with it, or more quickly, by running into it head on. Then the truly limiting factor to the universe would not be the speed of light or energy but the speed of time.

    So then, how do we measure the speed of time?
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: Mary love your inversion..your students are lucky to have you for a teacher..there are questions now about whether the speed of light is the fastest thing possible in theuniverse and also whether the speed of light has been the same through all time ( kronos time). Does the idea ( now losing ground) that time may actually be grainy and not continuous appeal to you? Also I would like to understand more about your inversion..that our understanding of the euniverse owuld be most fruitful if we could measure the speed of time? Doesn't that assume a linearity of time? Or could it be acceleratimg and decelerating and influenced by other forces?
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: I few years back I spent a lot of thought on the speed of time, it was shortly before I decided that time does not exist outside of our perception. The speed of time has to do with the path of least resistance through the possibility field of the multiverse. Light travels the speed it does due to the frequency of parallels it passes through. The thing about the speed of light is it changes when it passes through different scenarios. These scenarios can include extreme gravitational fluctuations and things such as Bose-Einstienian condensates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bose%E2%80%93Einstein_condensate). These are scenarios I also can see affecting the ratio or pattern of parallels in that vicinity. Light travels so fast because it's wavelength is so smooth, but there is a wavelength still. The "speed of time" would be the straight path, with no curvature to the wave, there essentially wouldn't be a wave then. The thing is how do you measure something without any movement? The answer is you do not. Time as a force does not exist, it is a concept created by us to make up for our inability to focus on multiple possibilities at once. In the multiverse all scenarios are present, time is our perception of moving through them.

      Have you yet thought of the time wave? That one is fun.

      Or at least that is what I have come to understand with absolutely no formal training. I actually have never even take a physics class, so if I am fundamentally incorrect about something please inform me.
    • thumb
      May 16 2011: I shall try to answer to your question: "How does one experience time differently through speed if they do not have a unit or component in common?"

      If I take Einstein's postulates, one is not supposed to experience time differently at any speed if he is found in a perfectly closed system. This is the very essence of the relativeness within the Theory of Relativity. What do I mean by that ?? First the meaning of "closed system" must be understood properly. "Closed System" means that absolutely any single piece of information from outside is not allowed to enter into that Closed System. Not even a single photon from outside. Einstein claimed that in this case, any experiment carried out inside this closed system cannot ever reveal whether this system is moving in a constant speed or is in complete rest.

      This means, in such a closed system, one is not supposed to experience time differently. This has great implications even beyond just pure Physics. This has Philosophical implications and I guess others like moral, too.

      So, how one would know his time-elapsing was slowed down due to his speedy journey ?? This will happen ONLY if & when he will get into contact with another frame which was in rest, and receive (external) information from that frame. ONLY then, by COMPARING his own frame with another one, the traveller will know (experience) that his time was lagging, that he remained younger than, suppose, his twin brother who remained on Earth. Without this interaction beteen the 2 frames and the comparsion between them, the time-lagging in any frame is absolutely meaningless.

      All this shows how deep is the concept of Einstein's Relativeness within his Theory of Relativity. It shows that when we say things are relative and that they depend on points of view, it's not just game of our mind, but that the relativeness is a fundamental property of the physical world. That there is need for a real interaction (COMPARING), in order to have meaning for relativeness.
  • Mar 6 2011: My thoughts might be slightly off topic but I think worth mentioning.

    What if we are frozen in time? What if that is what life is?
    The rocks and earth and atmosphere that slowly shift and erode away could be living in what is really time,
    but what we call time is just are accelerated movements and thoughts.
    What about the ever expanding universe? What if it is just an explosion that only lasts a second?

    Its all relative. Time is an irrelevant factor to everything.
    I wish that was a commonly believed thought because I am often late!
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2011: Whoa! Interesting!!!
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2011: I can identify with your perception Eddie!
    • Mar 20 2011: Time is an irrelevant factor to everything: I've listened to the same Bach organ piece twice - one organist played it in 6 minutes, the other one in 12. Parts of the last Beethoven piano sonata can be played slowly like a meditation or crazy like children playing wildly. (I have heaed and liked both versions) In Beethoven the time (speed) difference is probably even bigger than in the Bach piece. And this difference changes the world!
  • thumb
    Mar 6 2011: If energy is linked to time through the speed of light (e=mc2), then as long as the universe is a manifestation of energy, and we are part of this universe, all of our experiences will be related to time - moving forward or backwards. But if we can step outside the universal manifestation of energy, then there is no time, no...?
  • thumb
    Mar 5 2011: What I want to know is - why does it only move forward?
    • thumb
      Mar 6 2011: I think it's got something to do with entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. If that law could somehow be broken, where entropy globally decreases, we could move in both directions.
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2011: Does it? I remember? and when I remember I feel.... Like the moment my daughter was born. That is a space in " time " I can have right here in this moment in time. Great question!!
      • thumb
        Mar 15 2011: You can go back in time but only as a spectator, you can experience that moment again, see it, but you can't change it and while you experience that moment you had time keeps going forward.
        • thumb
          Mar 15 2011: What about those weird moments when you kind of get a glimpse of the future and then return back to now? That would be going back in time would it not? So in reality you can also only go FORWARD in time as a spectator. We are not moving forward IN TIME, we are always in the here and now, but because of movement in space (some part of us is always moving, at least on atomic levels) we also move in time....
        • thumb
          May 15 2011: Hi Pascal..nice to meet you. Do you know Lynne McTaggerts work, the Intention Experiment? A series of experiments meant to xplore the implications of qunatum mechanics ( in qunatum mechnaics it seems that all things exist in infiite possibility until fixed by the observer through the act of observation) Her work has been much challenged, and her experiements, so I am not putting forward as gosepel..just "mind candy" ..one of her expereiments involved "changing the past" participants were each given , as I recall, a pre-recorded pattern of sounds. Some were asked to form an intent for that pattern..others for a difernt pattern and apparently in many cases the different pattern was actually on the pre recorded ( apoligies Lynne if I have blown this description) . My point in sharing it with you isn't to refute what you say about time travel that is what science says in logically extending relativity) but to inviye a journey of the mindand spirit where that might not be correct. I love imaging that forgiveness actually corrects and changes.the past.
      • thumb
        Jun 7 2011: Hi Lindsay, thank you for your reply. Honestly, I didn't understand much of what you said (quantum mechanics and I broke up a while ago). I did some research on Lynne McTaggart and The Intention Experiment and I find it very interesting, I think I'll buy the book.

        Even though I didn't understand much of your reply at first you had me with you your last sentence! I wouldn't go as far and say forgiveness can change the past but it certainly can correct it. What is done is done but by accepting it and forgiving it you change your perception and that makes place for a better future. I have the feeling people underestimate the value of making peace with the past.
    • thumb
      Mar 17 2011: credo sia scientificamente possibile viaggiare nel tempo...la cosa ke ci resta difficile è la velocita' della luce cn cui le nostre cellule dovrebbero spostarsi...esse si distruggerebbero...e si ritorna cn qst al concetto ke finkè saremmo in qst dimensioni legati al nostro corpo...come ancorati alla terra cio' nn ci sara' possibile...kiss
    • thumb
      Mar 19 2011: I don' t think it is the time that is moving forward. Instead, it is the process of the universe, say chemical and physical process, is moving forward. If we had the ability of reversing the whole process, the time would be moving backward. But I don't think it possible.
    • thumb
      Mar 21 2011: Does it only move forward?

      Simply because our species has not discovered the concept of reversing time or going back in time is not proof that time only moves forward.

      What we know today is only a miniscule fraction of what we will know in the future.
      • thumb
        May 15 2011: agreed, John..and very few on the leading edge ofscience in exploring what time also agree..you are in excellent company!!! On the mor efruitful side of human endeavor, I think, to be very very wary of those who speak about time with any certainty.
        • thumb
          May 15 2011: i agree Lindsay ... we're sitting in a gigantic pool of time trying to get an overview .. doesn't make sense unless we can lift ourselves outside of it to get some perspective
      • thumb
        Jun 7 2011: I would love to be able to go back in time and do some things differently or just not do them at all. But wouldn't be too much of a hassle of one could go back in time? By going back in time and changing something you change the future but every action has an effect on uncountable different things so you might not even realise what you change. By going back in time to secure your own happiness you might cause somebody else a lot of harm without realising it.

        And to be honest, going back in time would be to easy. We need to take responsibility for our actions and learn from them.

        I would say that time as we defined it only moves forward but time (to me) is relative. By going forward in time (getting older) you can go back in time (midlife crisis and act like a teen) so as time is moving forward you're moving backwards... I think it depends of your own view on what time is if time is only moving forward.

        I realise this might sound confusing so I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: Hawking uses a paradoxical example: If a mad scientist were to create a wormhole one minute into the past and then from the future shoot his past self from through the wormhole who shot him? How could he be in the future if he was dead in the past...

      He says that paradoxes like this cannot exist so this proves that time only flows in one direction. Although his conclusion may be correct there is a fundamental flaw in this paradox. That is a wormhole going forward in time will not send a projectile backwards through time.

      If the scientist were to create a wormhole going one minute in the future and shoot through it he could hit himself one minute before he shot the gun. That would be a more accurate paradox. Being that the wormhole would then be flowing from future to past.
      • thumb
        May 15 2011: thomas do you happen to have a citation or link on what hawking said?
      • thumb
        May 16 2011: Great link, Thomas, thanks for taking the time to find and post it for me..and here is a quote from it for all who have been thinking baout time travel back in time"Physicists have been thinking about tunnels in time too, but we come at it from a different angle. We wonder if portals to the past or the future could ever be possible within the laws of nature. As it turns out, we think they are. What's more, we've even given them a name: wormholes. The truth is that wormholes are all around us, only they're too small to see. Wormholes are very tiny. They occur in nooks and crannies in space and time. You might find it a tough concept, but stay with me. "..Stephen HawkingRead more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1269288/STEPHEN-HAWKING-How-build-time-machine.html#ixzz1MX84KRltI guess the part that hangs folk up, according to Brian Cox, is the idea of causality...that once an actionhas caused another action that is fixed in time and unlike all other dimensions which we can travel two ways (up and down back and forth) lowwiing that in the dimension of time poses all kind of complexities. But apparently Stephen Hawing isn't allowing that to stop him for considering time as two ways ( or perhapsa continuous loop?) Thankss again for your great courtesy in finding and posting the links
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: it is only in a linear concept of time that time moves only forward..many are moving away from linear concerpts of time..I no longer feel any resonance with the idea that time is linear..that it has a beginning and an end.
      • thumb
        May 14 2011: Yes thank you, What I also should point out about the paradox above if the future self whacks the past self then the present self is still. And as soon as you fired that event would be in the past.
  • thumb
    Mar 4 2011: There is no "life" without time by definition. "Life" is (basically) something that performs actions to change and sustain itself. "Actions" being the keyword here - an action is something that occurs over time, including actions like "standing" which is not moving thought space for a certain time.

    And without "life", nothing of what we and other living beings experience and do can be described.

    As for the universe itself... well, I can't imagine it without time, but I can imagine it fixed at a certain time, in the same way that a two dimensional grid is actually a three dimensional grid with the third dimension always being fixed at a certain position. And so, without time... the universe would be like a (3D) picture.
  • thumb
    May 14 2011: Please explain why time is not a physical property of our universe.

    If you are to deny the concept, I wouldn't try and make an appointment with you ;-)

    Or would you re-invent a concept that can explain age-ing, the direction of experience, causality, prediction,...

    To me, this question is an interesting thought-experiment, but in real life, there has always been a 'before' and 'current'.
    even if we humans cease to exist, the universe would keep on unfolding in it's way,
    the direction in which it unfolds (from low to high entropy)

    You might just as well imagine a fourth spatial dimension perpetual to depth, length and width... or try to imagine a 2-dimensional universe...

    In short: I don't see the point...
    • thumb
      May 14 2011: well actually many leading scientists believe there are 11 dimensions..have you not heard of M-theory?, String Theory, Parallel Universe? The 11 dimansion superstring theory is a leadaing contender for explaining the irreconcilable diffrences betwee Quantum behavior and physics. Time, our concept of linear time is often a bit of a fly in the ointment in understanding the universe..multiverses.kronos..chronological time..our human invention for markimg the passgae of the seasons, the phases of the moon, what makes a day what makes an hour.is bound to our tiny little solar system and how it works within that solar systemearth bound as it arises from is perceived from earth of the sun & moon..It is apparently not all that reliable when we speak of things a great distance from our soloar system or want to understand how the universe works. Also when you stop and think just logically about time as linear..as having a speficic beginning, measureable in speficic constant units..well I have trounle with that just instinctively. It is kronos, our invented earth bound system of time, that lets us keep appointments, know when to plant seeds etc. etc. but kronos is a very earth bound, solar system bound idea.
      • thumb
        May 17 2011: As a matter of fact, I do. Time is one of those 11 dimensions... I thought you knew that.

        Time might be relative, that does not mean it doesn't exist (which it clearly does).

        and if i assume our concept of time is somewhat earthbound... aren't we earthbound as well?
        So for all practical reasons, we can apply time as linear during our lifespan... and it is sufficiently approximative to what scientists use as time in their more detailed theories...
  • thumb
    Mar 30 2011: Life without time is like living in the Garden of Eden. It is like going back in time before humanity was given a deadline.
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: love that Francisco and isn't that where we start..we aren't born with this kronos time awareness we are born with a different sense of 'time"
  • Mar 30 2011: Without time, it is impossible for us to relate to the universe. It is absurd to try to think about the universe without time, just try to imagine the universe without any space and you get the idea.

    That said, time and space go beyond our ability to conceive of in anything but an arbitrary sense. Indeed, time and space are irrelevant concepts in anything BUT an arbitrary sense. A micrometer is the same as a light year without two relative objects to compare. Likewise, without some point of reference, a second might as well be 100 billion years.

    I'm sure I borrowed the idea from some source I can't credit, but to me, this means that there is only one space, and only one time, here and now. This seems bizarre at first glance, because obviously "over there" exists, so there must be two spaces, the one you are in, and the one over there. But you will notice that if you go over there, you're still always here. Likewise with time, it appears that the future is off in the distance, and the past is back there. But the past was NOW, and the future will be now, and no matter what time you think you might be living in, I can guarantee that as long as you occupy 3D space/time, you will only ever experience one instant. This infinitely divisible one you're in right now.

    So, space = 1, time = 1, and this idea of separateness is just our consciousness' way of making sense of everything going on within that infinite 1x1. That's my take on it anyways, thinking about this stuff makes my brain feel like a noodle twisted into a Mobius strip...
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: love that neon..and for the record, the leading edge of science has given up this idea that time is linear..that belief has blocked much understanding of the universe..abandoning it has opened up all kinds of fruitful avenues of pursuit. I love your phrase"you will only ever experience one instant//this infinitely divisble one you're in right now"You are a teacher here..but I hope you are a teacher in the customary sense.. you have greart charisma..
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: The the moment in space time is an incredibly complex shape. As you look at the center you see one moment, as you look on the outside you see one moment, as you look at any particular point you see one moment. You can see one moment perfectly made from many scenarios. Each and every possibility ads a corner to the shape. It's so far been mind boggling to me to the point that I have had to take a long reprieve from this train of thought being that I couldn't spread the understanding I had achieved because it was near impossible to put into words. It was hard to expand on it because I had an increasingly difficult time to record in any way my discoveries, being once I diverted some focus to write I would loss the full focus on the issues and the highest ideal of understanding and it would slip away. So I carried around a little black notebook constantly in my back pocket where that I could jot something down. Many times in that note book the same senteces would appear as I would try to write the understanding, or at least build a gateway to it, and it would slip away at the same point. After a few months of intensely thinking of it all I could flip through the pages and start to see my idea emerge, it was elating. Also without being able to discuss it openly it became hard to gain further insight. On top of those things once you get far enough into the ideal there are other ideals seemingly non-related at first that come into play.
  • Mar 16 2011: In my opinion, time does not exist as a separate caracteristic, or value, it is only a part of a concept: space and time, together. We are experiencing a perpetual moment NOW, nothing else... in this NOW we can have remembering of other moments of NOW or we can immagine moments and place them in a not yet experienced NOW. So, except of one perpetual NOW! the rest - past, future are just mental constuctions, in order to give us an idea of order and of difference between experiences, but nothing else. The proofs of past are existing NOW, photos or whatever...
    I think we are experiencing a reality in wich we are sorting experiences one after other, and the space and time are interchangeable, so you can have two events in the same point of space, but in different moments of now, or the same two events can take place in diferent points of space but in the same now, so we are experiencing a reality full of events! And we looked at it and described separately, invented concept of time with no relation to space, so events have to be described as succesive, in a time line. So, time and space are two components, two dimensions that allow us to experience diferent moments of now and construct the reality. So, time itself does not exist, is not moving, not passing, not causing anything, we established a convention to sort experiences. and if a heart is beating, there are two diferent events, time is not the diference betwen them.
    • thumb
      Mar 17 2011: condivido in pieno cio' ke scrivi...cio' ke pensi....il tempo è solo presente....è un eterno esserci al presente. x sempre..kiss
  • Tova P

    • +2
    Mar 7 2011: I agree with Yubal. I used to think that time was this thing that was a human creation, that we defined the way it ran, it's direction by our limited brain capacity. I changed my outlook recently when I listened to this talk that was about how time, and it's movement in a linear direction is related to entropy - time runs in one direction because you can't get an ice cube from water in a room temperature environment. You'd have to reverse time and reverse entropy as well.

    While we humans are serial processors, i.e. our left brain likes things that run in a nice clean line, time is also part of the fabric of our universe. For this reason I think that trying to get away from it as a part of existence in this universe is futile, and takes too much energy better spent on understanding and changing instead our relationship to time. In my mind, if instead of trying to get away from it, we did things like take a much longer view on all our decisions, we would do better for ourselves and future generations as well. I also think we would worry less about the decisions that will have little to no impact on our lives further into the future, a big boost to the mental health of western civilization!

    This is the talk: feeds.tvo.org/~r/tvobigideas/~5/UnxK6wDIUXE/004985_48k.mp3. There's also a video version available through itunes podcasting (TVO big ideas).
  • thumb
    Mar 5 2011: I LOVE these Responses.... I love that Tedsters make me FEEL my mind!
  • thumb
    Mar 5 2011: When time is about change, all objects defined are defined relatively. That is why an object has no nature of itself, by itself, when we deprive it of property of time. If we remove time hypothetically, everything in all its expressible forms will exhibit itself (all the time, because it won't be a human if there's no time, we have this compulsory measure for kind of life we have). But nothing of "this world" can even exhibit or express without taking objective form without time. It will be what it might have been when there was nothing...but it was never.
  • Mar 5 2011: To begin with, every component of life is man-made. So I do not think you can single out 'time'. Everything, it's arbitrary, so time is not the glue holding everything together. Because this is a hypothetical question, and there can be no answer (because we DO have time), I wonder what the point of asking a question like this is. Everything, if picked apart to the extent of asking, "What is life if ____ does not exist?" is going to end without an answer. Thus it will not end.

    Without time we do not have the concept of ephemeral life. We do not have the concept of Heaven, because at what point do we die and enter Heaven? We do not have Hell, for the same reason. There are no deadlines, nothing. Red is still red in association with blue, winning is still winning when contrasted with losing. So there is still 'meaning', if that's what you define it as. Time related issues are out of the picture, and thus the theoretical is destroyed. But the present is not.

    If this does not make sense, and it might not, considering my present state of mind (and what is a state, without the concept of time?), then it is because I've drunk too much. Questions like these, the 'hypothetical' notions of what could be, but are not, are irrelevant. We have these things, and thus they incite questions. If we did not have them, there would be no question; we would not know what they were at that point, and therefore would not know what to ask. There is no solution. What's the point of a question?

    You know there's no answer. You just live it and hope for happiness.
  • Mar 5 2011: Well lets define time.

    Time in practicality is synonymous to change.
    We experince time because somethings change.

    But, our perception of time is only relevant to our ability to affect and effect change.

    Let me explain in clearer terms.

    We can move our hands as fast as we can follow them. (just about)

    So if our ability to percieve something was much slower then our ability to move, we would hurt ourselves from moving our body faster then we could keep track of ourselves.

    And, if our ability to percieve movement was much faster then ability to move we would get tremendously bored doing nothing half the time waiting for our body to catch up to our intentions.

    So our ability to percieve the flow of time is designed around our ability to affect it.
    One goes hand in hand with the other.

    So what happens when u remove time.

    Everything in the universe happens all at once, but so do we, we would then experience our entire lifetime (or mulitple) and we would only be able to look back upon our actions remembering the reasons we had for taking them without the ability to reflect upon them in any way but in retrospect.

    Is this what "God" feels like?

  • thumb
    Mar 5 2011: The universe as we know it couldn't exist without time. Change is a function of time. Without time, everything would be frozen in the moment.
    • Mar 7 2011: agreed. and there's a reason it's called spacetime. time is the 4th dimension, and a fundamental part of the fabric our universe. and you have to remember the effects of motion and gravity on time. Extreme gravity has the effect of slowing down time (to a stop at the event horizon of a black hole, relatively) and lightspeed travel would have the same effect, relatively.
    • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      May 13 2011: yeah but its turning out that our idea of linear time has actually put some road blocks to our understanding of the universe..to our ability to reconcile quantum mechnaics with physics to even ubderstanding what we see out there with hubble . Many leading edge scientists are thinking they understand more of what we can observe by abandoning this idea of linear time..
  • thumb
    Mar 4 2011: Maybe if we just lived in the moment without the baggage of the past or the pressure of the future, the world would be a more authentic place. Note that I do not mean the memories experienced are not remembered or that we do not have a will to move us from place to place. I'm simply suggesting that past and future loose their control of our minds in the present moment. Total freedom?
  • thumb
    Jul 22 2011: Very interesting all.

    Would it be safe to say then that:

    1) The phenomena we call time defines in an inextricable manner the nature and state of all energy or matter.

    2) Entities of sufficient insight create and explore measuring systems reflecting their preoccupation with and concepts of the value in a particular moment?

    Just looking for some feedback and trying to paraphrase our collaborative interpretation.
  • thumb
    Jul 12 2011: I've very much enjoyed reading this conversation and the many different and interesting views, one can have loads of fun debating about concepts like time for days on end -- great question by Indigo! I, however, after reading all this and debating in my mind, am unable to reach any other conclusion than the most pragmatic for me: TIME EXISTS ONLY BECAUSE WE ARE FINITE. I have been trying to remind myself of this conclusion these days as I battle the fear of making some important and potentially "risky" decisions that will change the current direction of my life.
  • thumb
    May 15 2011: maybe if we could live just in the present moment we could transcend time ....how to do that though ....what can take our concentration and hold it where we are at any particular time .... it won't be a thought ...it will have to be an experience i reckon.....
    • thumb
      May 15 2011: That's it!!!
      • thumb
        May 15 2011: i can't think myself through these time issues too much i'm afraid, Lindsay ....this is the closest i can get and when it happens it feels great..... it doesn't stop my ageing process (damn) though which i've been told is programmed into my dna somewhere ...
  • thumb
    May 13 2011: Lets remove time. How? First we would define a minimal possible time interval. Then we would take a snapshot of reality in each of these intervals. We could visualise the time snapshots as a chain of circles containing one reality. Now lets take all those realities and spread them in one big plane of space without overlapping. There you have it - a model of the world without time in it with all other causality relationships preserved if we want them.

    It means that one can "participate" in his own birth and death. It would also mean there is one of us for each snapshot we have taken and we would be identical but slightly different looking.

    This is not something new. In some TED talks a software that creates space-time worms was used as visualization aid. The difference with the current idea is that it does not have to be a worm - the "next me" could appear anywhere in the space.

    And now we could begin to do weird things with the model.

    For example, because there is no time we would observe people and things popping in and out of existence anywhere and it may look random to us until we realise, for example, that breaking a nut would cause many broken nuts suddenly to appear each would be the same as the one we just broke but slightly different.

    Also all words that imply time relationships would not exist (like next, now, before, waiting, etc.)
  • thumb
    May 13 2011: My current photography/art work is working with this concept, although I didn't state it as not having a concept of time, but rather I ask, don't all moments from the past present and future exist in this moment? The place where I think of time not existing at all is in space although I haven't quite wrapped my head around the concept. I do think about it all, a lot.
    • thumb
      May 13 2011: how beautiful & how insightful..Iyour photography and art work must be exhilarating if you start from here.
      • thumb
        May 13 2011: lagtime.kimba.com is where the project lives for the moment!
  • thumb
    May 1 2011: I just saw a brilliant comment on YouTube related to this that I simply must share:
    "Time is an abstract concept created by carbon-based lifeforms to monitor their ongoing decay."
    (user name calvinthedestroyer, 1 month ago)

    I never would've put it better myself :-D .
  • Mar 26 2011: Life without the concept of time leaves you with life and time. I suspect you subtract time itself from the equation, then you disappear too. Just a notion, for what it's worth. Attempts to back it up with reason have sent me spiralling into a mental worm hole with no foreseeable hope of re-emerging.
  • Mar 24 2011: Living life minus the concept of time would effectively be what is popularly called 'living in the moment’ only its popular usage is really about living ‘more’ in the moment. To live in the moment in the truest sense you’d have to suffer complete loss of memory and chronic lack of imagination; no sense of past or future. In fact, it would be akin to de-evolving to a more primitive state; closer to that of an animal. The more evolved a species, I would suggest, the less ‘ín the moment' its members actually live. And while it's true, many of us could probably afford to live a little more in the moment, to do so in the fullest sense would not only be near impossible short of giving yourself major head trauma, but a regressive, self -destructive act that would greatly compromise quality of life. People lying comatose in hospital with head injuries from car accidents are about as close to living in the moment a human’s likely to achieve. It wouldn't be much of a life. I think you ideally strive for a delicate and workable balance between the past, future and present; strive being the key word because you never get there; life is constant motion and change and as such, acheiving balance is an ongoing, lifelong process.