What is Time?


My thoughts on this really fascinating topic of Time is as follows:

As humans, we’ve always felt a need to measure everything we encounter. By doing so, it helped us to describe what we encounter, be it physical or otherwise.

We measure the three obvious dimensions of Space by units of distance. The heat sensation we encounter by units of temperature and so on.

We sense change in our physical and non-physical world and to help us describe this, we used the unit of Time.

I believe time is not a force but it is a dimension. It is a unit of measurement of change of state. That state change can be at the minutest level in momentary existence (we are still discovering ever smaller elements – CERN’s Large Hydron Collider experiments for example). It can also be at the largest level of state change between galaxies or universes.

So perhaps it works if we consider moments of state as opposed to ‘instants of time’. But as Einstein rightly noted, we cannot fully describe this moment of state without including the ‘where’ component, i.e. the ‘space’ of the state in question.

So in summary, Space-Time describes a state change at a specific coordinate in Space.

Time, Relativity and Space-Time

Albert Einstein has showed us that Time is relative. From a human perspective, it’s personal. Your view of the ‘timing’ of when an event occurred will always be different to my view of the ‘timing’ of the same event. The difference is imperceptible by humans of course. However, if you and I are separated by vast distance, say we are at either side of our Milkyway galaxy for example, we would be able to sense the difference.

If my view of Time as described above is acceptable, then how can this work with Albert Einstein’s brilliant observation of relative time?

First, let’s look at another unit of measurement, temperature, on a winter’s day, you and I, standing right next to each other might agree that the weather feels cold. But how cold? If two highly sensitive temperature measurement instruments are placed where each of us had been standing, their readings would be different.

My take on the question of relative time is that you and I are not observing exactly the same event and not exactly from the same point in the three dimensions of Space (height, width and depth). Just as the view your left eye observes is different to that observed by your right eye, my view and your view of an event will not be exactly the same. If we are admiring a car and we stand perfectly still, right next to each other, our view of the car will not be exactly the same.

So if we agree that Time is simply a measurement of state change then relative time is the relative state of change.

Our view of the event (state change in coordinate of Space) is different in relation to each other. The ”timing’ we record for the event in Space-Time is relative and, in this case different.

If you and I are perfect copies of each other and we occupy exactly the same Space-Time, we would both agree the event ‘timing’ is exactly the same. However, even if, as perfect copies we move apart, we will occupy different Space-Times and not agree on the timing of the event.

In summary, an event observed from different Space-Times is relatively different. If observed from a single Space-Time, the event’s state of change at a particular Space coordinate – Its Space-Time – is relatively the same.

This is likely why Albert Einstein stated that in describing an event, we should speak in holistic terms. Not only the space of occurrence, not only the ‘time’ but rather, in Space-Time terms.

Time Travel and Time Viewing

Since I believe Space-Time can be considered as a state change at a specific Space coordinate, all events can be considered as a procession of Space-Times.

Back to our car analogy. The car as it is, relatively to our view, is a particular arrangement of the minutest elements each in a particular Space-Time. The total effect is what we see as the car.

Time Travel

Let’s say a chip of paint were to fall off the car’s body. It will be a different event (car) occupying a different Space-Time. So can we ever travel to the ‘past’ of when the paint had not fallen off ever again? The laws of probability states this is almost infinitely impossible but not 100% impossible. For this to happen, the car would need to occupy exactly the same Space-Time so its paint is intact and we would need to occupy exactly the same Space-Time as we observed it. The odds of this are of course, immense but not impossible.

We can see that it makes no difference whether we travel to the paint-intact car in the ‘past’ or the ‘future’. It is just Space-Time events occurring. If the Space-Time events (observed and observer) can occupy exactly the same Space-Times then ‘time travel’ is possible. What makes ‘time travel’ even trickier is how do we find out the Space-Time of the paint-intact car and how do we get ourselves in the same Space-Time from which we observed the paint-intact car?

So ‘time travel’ over which we have no control compared to one which we do have control over, can happen albeit with the tiniest of probability.

Time Viewing

‘Time viewing’ may be that bit easier than ‘time travel’ because we don’t necessarily have to alter our own Space-Time. We can stay right where we are. We just have to capture/view the paint-intact car event (Space-Time). In this case, all we need is for the light in front of us to arrange itself in the shape of the paint-intact car. This is like when we beam a scene unto a screen at the cinema. The scenery is not physically there but the light arrangement of the Space-Time of the event was captured and made to arrange a new Space-Time in the cinema so we can view the event.

We may get lucky and the light around us arbitrarily arranges the Space-Time it occupies in the form of the paint-intact car. Perhaps the image of the paint-intact car arrives in front of us courtesy of a wormhole and we get to view it. In neither scenario do we have control to select exactly what we view. Yet, in both scenarios, we may get the opportunity to observe events in the ‘past’ or the ‘future’, passively.

So ‘time viewing’ over which we have no control compared to one which we do have control over, can happen albeit with the tiniest of probability.

What do you think?

To find out more about my Space-Time related projects please visit www.spacevee.com and www.space2space.com.

We may never fully agree on Time until there is no state change occurring.