One of the earliest devices to measure time was the sundials; which used the suns motion as a standard of measurement for time. The use of units
like seconds and minutes which are radial angle measurements in geometry may be pointing toward the original connection of time measurements to
radial motion of astronomical objects across the sky. Once we started using precise time keeping devices like digital clocks and time based on atomic
oscillations the time’s celestial connection was lost. Now the whole world’s time can be synchronized by atomic clocks and time has developed a life of
When we measure the speed of a car, we seem to be measuring speed with something abstract called time; we are actually just comparing a known
motion (of the sun) with an unknown motion of the car. Time is a way to compare or describe different kinds of motions like speed of light, how fast
heart beats or how frequently earth spins around its axis. But these processes can be compared directly without making any reference to time. Time
may have no independent existence at all, it just appears to be a common unit of motion making the world that is constantly changing easier to
TIME CHANGE MOTION AND FORCES
Time is a real phenomenon a continuous change through which we live. Time becomes evident through motion; sunrise sunsets, night and day, the
changing seasons, the movement of the celestial bodies all is indicative of continuous change. The aging process is a reminder that molecular motion
and interactions are also at work and are a part of time. Other important aspect of time is presence of motion of particles like photon and the motion at
the atomic level. An often overlooked but very important aspect of time is that forces also act in time.
|More powerful than all the armies of the
world, is an idea whose time has come.
We feel the passage of time in the present, our interaction with the world in the present creates our memories which are then relegated to the past as
we venture into the unknown future. The present gives us the most real feeling of time however almost all of what we perceive as now is already past.
The present is a fleeting moment; whatever is happening now (present) is confined to an infinitesimally narrow point on the time line which is being
encroached upon by the past and the future.
Present resembles the sharp point of a recording laser or needle; it may be the mental awareness of recording of memory as it is being perceived and
inscribed into our neurons. Unlike the present the past and future are measurable durations of time. Past historical events, a meeting, or a wedding
reception are all measurable durations just like a recorded material on tape. This similarity suggests that past is more like a recorded memory, while
future can be compared to an unrecorded tape. Another interesting observation pointed out by philosopher Mc' Taggart was that historical events also
have the same time characteristic as stories that are just creations of the human imagination. Both stories and historical events contain the time
concepts of earlier, the later, the past the present and the future suggesting that past in reality is nothing more than memory of events.
Future appears to be a projection created by our past experiences stored in our memory. The fact that the present which gives us the most real feel of
time cannot be measured while the inaccessible past and future can be measured as durations suggests that the way we perceive time is an illusion.
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IS THE BLOCK UNIVERSE DESCRIPTION OF TIME CORRECT?
"People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between
the past, the present and the future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion"
Every past or possible future event also has a place like feeling to it. Time-scape feels like it is a place where it may be possible to go. This
dimension like view of time has spawned numerous science fiction stories and movies on time travel. This view of time suggests that dinosaurs are still
alive and roaming the earth in some other time dimensions; it also suggest that there are multiple copies of us and the whole universe smeared across
multiple dimensions of time.
In Special Relativity (SR) the block universe view of time arises from an interpretation of the Lorentz transformation equation known as the Rietdijk–
Putnam argument (or the Andromeda paradox.) By this innovation of SR just walking on the earth toward or away from the Andromeda galaxy which is
2.5 million light years away we can shift our line of simultaneity so that our time can be in sync with either past or future of beings living in Andromeda.
This interpretation of SR suggests that past and future exists as a part of the block universe. Lorentz transformation is interesting but has not been
proven experimentally and this interpretation of SR cannot be verified. All of other SR’s predictions of slowing of time, length contraction and gain in
mass with motion can be derived without Lorentz transformation and are experimentally verifiable.
In the block universe time is laid out as a time-scape similar to landscape and it is obvious that there cannot be a free will. This has led to some
innovations or variations in the theme of the block universe in which the future is changeable. If time-scape is already laid out then what causes our
conscious experience to move through this time-scape and why we cannot willfully move our consciousness anywhere anytime?
The time of the block universe leads to some interesting conclusions. The universe in its time dimensions should have numerous future civilizations
millions or billions of years more technologically advanced then us. At least some of these civilizations should be capable of travelling through the
block universe and we should have seen some evidence for that, unless there is some law of the universe which prohibits time travel. Block universe
also leads to the possibility of time travel paradoxes like the grandfather paradox in which a person travels to the past and kills his grandfather thereby
changing the future so that the time traveler would not exist and thus not travel to the past to kill his grandfather.
THE INSTANTANEOUS BIG BANG ORIGIN OF THE BLOCK UNIVERSE
“If the universe with its past present and future exists as a part of time-scape in the block universe
Then all of the time-scape from the big bang to the infinite future should have begun at the instant of the Big Bang.”
Imagine two objects one moving in orbit around the other in space. Now suppose from our distant observation point of a fixed time we observe time to
get slower in the area where these two objects are moving. We expect to see slower motion? We also should observe proportionally weaker
gravitational force; otherwise the objects will get pulled together. If we observed faster time, we expect to see faster motion and stronger gravity to
keep the objects from flying apart. While with zero time motion will freeze and gravity will become zero. As this thought experiment also can be
extended to particles held together by electromagnetic forces we can say that time involves both motion and forces.
PERCEPTION OF TIME: THE PAST THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
Next time you look at a tall building or a mountain try to visualize that time is running more slowly even slightly so near the bottom of these structures
then at the top. The stability of these structures depends on the fact that space-time is continuous; being slow in time does not lead to lagging behind
and disappearing into the past. Imagine if the bottom of a mountain or a building vanished into the past.
Theory of relativity predicts slowing of time with motion and gravity. These predictions have been confirmed in particle accelerators as well as gravity
experiments. If there is a block universe why particles and masses with slower time do not disappear into the past? In gravitational fields space is
clearly continuous between areas of slower and faster time, going against the concept of a persistent past dimension.
Black holes with their intense gravity that bring time to a screeching halt do not disappear from our present into the past. We need to have clarity in
our minds as to what the slowing of time means in a block universe. Does passage of time mean our consciousness is moving across time
dimensions? Slowing of time without sliding into the past or the future suggests that time is a process and not a dimension. This may be a
significant point against the block universe view of time when taken together with other aspects of time described above.
MOTION FORCES AND THE ARROW OF TIME
The universe is thought to have originated in an event called the Big Bang about 13 billion years ago. We live in an expanding universe and the
galaxies are receding from each other as a part of the universal expansion. Microwave back ground radiation which is a relic from the Big Bang has
been studied by many NASA and European satellites. There is no doubt in the minds of physicists and astronomers that Big Bang occurred.
Similarly the concept of time being a block universe is considered a natural outcome of the Lorentz transformation. However we seem to have
overlooked that the concept of a block universe in which past, present and all of the future is laid out as a time-scape maybe at odds with the origin of
the universe in the Big Bang. In the block universe view of time every event exists simultaneously. If the universe from its beginning to its distant
infinite future exists as a part of time-scape of the block universe then all of the time-scape from big bang to infinite future should have begun in the
Big Bang. There is no escape form this unless we discard the block universe view of time or the origin of the universe in Big Bang. These two
concepts appear to be mutually exclusive.
SLOWING OF TIME IN THE BLOCK UNIVERSE
Arrow requires two points in time that can exist only in the block universe. The time-scape in the block universe is already laid out and our
conscious experience of time is only toward the future. The question therefore remains why arrow of time does not point toward the past? If future and
past already exist why we only remember the past and not the future?
Unrestricted by the block universe view of time we are free to consider time as a process so that every event is occurring in the present where it is
being perceived. If time is the presence of motion as well as forces then forces provide the necessary gradient for the direction of time. There is
also a statistical touch to this argument; smashing a glass with a hammer means application of force at one point while to assemble it back in reverse
would require coordinated application of multiple tiny forces in a reverse and continuous manner which is statistically unlikely. Similarly throwing a
stone into a pond creates ripples which then travel to the edge of the pond. To reverse this process it would require simultaneous application of
multiple tiny forces at the edge of the pond to produce multiple synchronized waves moving backward to the area of splash where the stone pushed
up by the ground at the bottom of the pond will be waiting to be thrown out into the hand of the thrower…. a statistical impossibility.
Direction of time in a block universe is difficult to explain as times-scape is already laid out and our conscious experience could have run in any
direction. Without the burden of the block universe arrow of time is no enigma as it is just a process and it is a natural outcome of cause, effect and
1. We measure time by comparing one standard motion like the suns movement across the sky against another motion like that of a car. Clocks are
used as intermediaries for convenience. Time may not have any independent existence, the motion could have been compared directly suggesting
that time is a process that is linked to motion.
2. Motion alone is not enough to explain time. Forces also appear to be part of time. Arrow of time is difficult to explain in the block universe where
every event is already laid out. Arrow of time is however easily explained if we consider time as a process which includes motion as well as forces.
3. Perception of time as past present and future gives us the feeling of passage of time, as well as the block universe view of time. Time can be
compared to recording devices, the present is just where the events and their perception is being recorded into our memory. The perception of time as
a record is also apparent in the similarity of time characteristic of past present and future that exists in historical events as well as stories. The fact that
the present which gives us the most real feeling of time cannot be measured while the inaccessible past and future can be measured as durations
suggests that the way we perceive time is an illusion.
4. Slowing of time in motion and gravity does not lead to disappearance into the past as should happen in a block universe. Absence of time travelers
from futuristic advanced civilizations is also against the concept of the block universe.
5. The concept of origin of the universe in the Big Bang is at odds with the block universe view of time. If the block universe which is supposed to be
laid out as a time-scape (from the past to the present to the infinite future) exists and began in big bang then it would mean that all of the time up to the
infinite future would come into existence in the instant of the big bang. To truly comprehend this, big bang should be renamed "Instantaneous big
bang origin of the whole block." This idea is truly preposterous.
6. Slowing of time in gravity and in motion as well as the ultimate speed limit c provides the necessary clues to understanding the cause of time
however we need to first convince ourselves that time is a process that is linked to motion and forces and the block universe view of time is not correct.
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IDEAS THAT CAN HELP IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF TIME
The road to understanding time is relativity and the concept of time dilation is an important milestone. To find out the cause of time we need to know
why time slows in motion and around large masses. One of the most dramatic aspects of the universe is that it is expanding and the presence of
motion, forces and curved space-time happens in the expanding space. Conceptually it is easier to derive space curvature in an expanding universe
as an area of slower expansion. This is one of the crucial concepts that were missing from Einstein’s vocabulary till many years after he developed
GR. Einstein’s GR with the universal force of gravitation predicted that universe could not be static; it has to be either expanding or contracting.
Einstein however introduced a fudge factor in his equations to keep the universe from expanding or contracting choosing a static universe.
Michelson and Morley experiment demonstrated that the speed of light is unaffected by the motion of the earth. If light moved in a fixed background of
space or aether then the constancy of the speed of light was inexplicable unless large masses completely dragged aether. Presence of such a
medium through which huge planetary and solar masses could move with perfect ease cannot be explained. Einstein did away with this issue by
calling ether superfluous, however GR brings suspiciously ethereal terms such as warping or curving of space, black holes in space and frame
dragging back into mainstream physics; it appears that we have just changed the name of aether to space.
The constancy of the speed of light, lack of simultaneity and the Lorentz transformation equations lead to the block universe interpretation of time. It
can be easily demonstrated that Einstein’s famous time dilation equation the Lorentz factor actually depends on the preservation of
simultaneity therefore Lorentz transformation equation in its present form need to be reinterpreted.
Einstein initially believed that acceleration was the cause of time dilation in moving objects as this is the main difference that can be seen between
travelling and stay home twin in the famous twin paradox thought experiment. Einstein equated acceleration in gravity with that in accelerated motion
in his famous equivalence principal bringing time dilation into gravity. It is clear however from particle accelerators that acceleration plays no role in
time dilation of moving particles. Time dilation in motion can be precisely calculated with velocity only; similarly gravitational time dilation can be
calculated from escape velocity at a given point and not from gravitational acceleration.
We do not need particle accelerators to tell us that acceleration cannot be the cause of time dilation. In twin paradox thought experiments the
acceleration and deceleration of the travelling twin can be made brief or instantaneous and then the only difference between the two is the uniform
velocity of the travelling twin. One of the reasons for the existence of the twin paradox is the insistence of SR that rest and motion are the same and
motion is only relative, however presence of centrifugal force in rotating objects suggests that motion and rest are not equivalent.
Time slows in gravity and with motion without any evidence of lagging behind in the past; this aspect of SR and GR should rule out the block universe
view of time. For that to happen however we will have to reinterpret Lorentz transformation equations.
Discovery of Cosmic back ground radiation; zero point energy along with space curvatures of GR makes it difficult to think of space without some sort
of structure. The other side of the coin is the ease with which massive objects move through space with zero resistance, and the constancy of the
speed of light in moving objects like earth. Any new development in relativity will have to reconcile all these difficulties and precisely show it to be
superior to relativity while keeping the predictions of relativity.
I will show below that by solving the enigma of time you can beautify both special and general relativity. I will begin below by defining time and giving
the cause of time. I believe that I have already made it clear that time is a process and not a dimension so I will not dwell further into that aspect of time.
The ideas that I propose are a dramatic shift from the past you will have to have an open mind and only when you are through the whole article you
will be able to sit back and see that the concept is beautiful, removes paradoxes explains length contraction time dilation inertia and the force of gravity
at a basic level. You will see how everything makes perfect sense.
GET THE COMPLETE ARTICLE
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WHAT IS TIME AND WHAT CAUSES TIME?
In the next few pages you will understand time from a totally new perspective and discover the cause of time? This will bring to light the reason
behind many predictions of Special and General Relativity. By knowing what is time and what is its cause you will discover why time slows with
motion and in gravity? You will understand the cause of gravity and why it is only attractive? Why space is curved by gravitational fields? Why
objects gain mass when accelerated by a force but do not gain mass when falling in gravity? What is the cause of inertia and length
contraction? I am presenting here a clear solution to the enigma of time. The concepts are simple so that anyone with knowledge of high school
physics and math should be able to follow.
Time presents to us in many different ways. We measure time, keep time, meet and greet in time and our daily lives are completely wrapped around
the onward rush of time. We perceive time as past present and future. In physics time plays a major role in the measurement of motion and forces.
Time also gives us a place like feeling to it suggesting that time is a dimension. This has sprung a whole culture around the concept of time travel
leading to numerous science fiction stories, and movies. The many facets of time suggest that time is an emergent phenomenon that is arising from
some underlying process that we need to identify.
The greatest breakthrough in understanding of time occurred about a hundred years ago with Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity
which introduced the concept of slowing of time with motion and in gravity. Einstein also showed that large masses curve space and there is increase
in mass with acceleration by application of a force. These discoveries of Einstein provide the necessary clues to solving the riddle of time.
MEASURING TIME: WHAT ARE WE MEASURING?