MISTER ScienceAintSoBad explains “time”
I am often asked to explain time.
If I can get off the hook with “It’s what the clock says”, we’re done here. Otherwise?.
Here’s the thing. Lots has been written about this. It get pretty deep out there, believe me. We humans figured out how to count time by using something that moves continuously and uniformly such as the moon traveling around the earth as a proxy for time. Twice as far meant twice as much time had gone by. Distance traveled equaled time. It’s the idea behind clocks (the old fashioned kind) where the hands rotate around the face of the clock and time is marked off along the edge.
You can see that this doesn’t tell us a thing. What does uniform mean?
It has been suggested that time represents a change in “entropy” (how much is left of the way things were ordered or “wound up” when the universe started). If that’s true, time started when the universe started. But maybe time stretches out beyond the end of the universe and before the beginning. Maybe there was time before “the first second”.
I’m not supposed to say that, am I?
We’re still unraveling that mysterious first fraction of a second of the “Big Bang” when, supposedly, there was infinite density. Few physicists believe that there was any such a thing. Getting smaller than the “Planck length” ( 10 to the minus 35 meters) may not be physically possible. So something else might have happened other than a so-called singularity. Maybe there were events “before”. Before? Doesn’t that mean there was time?
Some say that there is an illusional quality to time. That we perceive something that isn’t there. That the physical world is sliced up into very small “ticks” making the time dimension granular instead of continuous. All that was, and all that will be, is captured in each of these ticks like frames in a movie film.
I could go on and on but I’m afraid I will mislead. This is a lovely and fascinating area for discussion, but I shouldn’t take take up your valuable time for this. The subject goes deeper than my own brain goes.
Here is an article in Wired Magazine - an interview with Sean Caroll by Erin Biba.
Your ideas are welcome. Maybe you know more than me.
It wouldn’t be hard.
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The drawing is by me.