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Thread: What is Time?

  1. #1 What is Time? 
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    Alright then...I couldn't figure out where to put this, and tried searching for the topic, so my apologies if my search-fu is weak.

    I've been thinking a lot lately about time. Not time as a human construct, and the notation we apply to it...I think we all 'get' that.

    My question is...what is time really? We can define energy, matter, etc...but time is kind of swinging in the breeze. Is time like pornography...hard to explain, but you know it when you see it?

    So, with scientific theories floating about, using time as a variable...how is it truely defined? Can time be altered, sped up...slowed down...or is just our perception of time as we've been trained to keep track of?

    Again...sorry if this has been beaten to death in the past...but I've been so preoccupied with "time", that I'm starting to dream about it.


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    Time is the slow and continual increase in entropy arbitrary divided up into seconds.


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    Time can most certainly be slowed down as has been seen by satellites orbiting the Earth. The rate of time flow on the satellite needs to be adjusted to coincide with the rate of time flow on Earth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by c186282
    Time is the slow and continual increase in entropy arbitrary divided up into seconds.
    Your definition could be rewritten "Time is the increase in entropy over time", which is circular reasoning and doesn't get us anywhere.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Quote Originally Posted by c186282
    Time is the slow and continual increase in entropy arbitrary divided up into seconds.
    Your definition could be rewritten "Time is the increase in entropy over time", which is circular reasoning and doesn't get us anywhere.
    Yes that is true but I do not think you will get much more.
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    Time is a property of motion, without motion there is no time, (see the atomic second) What you think of as 'time' varies depending upon where you are in the universe, it is a dependent variable, dependent upon motion & gravity. Entropy is out motion is in it would seem but that's science!
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    Hmmm...I know satellites have different time keeping methods to sync up with Earth based systems, like GPS. But, if I were watching a satellite from the window of a space craft at close range, for say...3 minutes...and you were watching the same satellite from a telescope on Earth for 3 minutes...my 3 minutes would actually take longer than yours?

    mega...correct me if I'm wrong (which happens quite often), but wouldn't that mean time wouldn't exist in the vacuum of space, in the absence of matter to be set in motion? Or...is the light reflected off stars sufficient motion...or hell...how does motion pertain to energy?

    I need to relax and enjoy my spring break... :?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Time is a property of motion, without motion there is no time, (see the atomic second) What you think of as 'time' varies depending upon where you are in the universe, it is a dependent variable, dependent upon motion & gravity. Entropy is out motion is in it would seem but that's science!
    Citations please.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Time is a property of motion, without motion there is no time, (see the atomic second) What you think of as 'time' varies depending upon where you are in the universe, it is a dependent variable, dependent upon motion & gravity. Entropy is out motion is in it would seem but that's science!
    No no and guess what... no. But then i cannot believe you don't know that time is not a direct consequence of motion, since you need an observer present to measure the duration between two points, a conscious observer preferrably, as found in special relativity.

    Instead, we say time is relative to the observer, and in many cases of physics and relativity, they are, of course, indestinguishable. Some scientists have gone as far as to even postulate the absence of a real local time measurement, and thus a global time (whatever that would mean, i tend to interpret it as a Wheeler-De Witt time equation of Global Sense) has no internal change, and thus change is not necesserily the truth of a changing time duration.

    Now, speed affects time because it can distort and even contract space. If you say this, you could say that the contraction of time is a distortion of a fast moving object through some space. But this too does not mean that speed equals time. It just alters the perception, or duration which we percieve time to pass.
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    LunchBox, i would say that you're in the wrong section to discuss in.
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    OK it seems that several of you may not have understood exactly what I said so here goes, the day - (almost a complete rotation of the earth) - a month something to do with the moon ( :wink: ) ... A year the motion of the earth around the sun, time is a word invented to explain these things, a convenience, man made, there is no such thing as time, just as there is no such thing as a 5, or a 7, unless you tie it to something else, like 3 apples or two people, numbers are manmade to help explain things and believe it or not, that is all that time is. Now could I ask you to actually think about this before you dismiss it out of hand?

    Time does NOT exist in free space, 'Time' is experienced only by the matter in free space, just like free space has no temperature! - temperature like time is a quality of matter if you place a thermometer in free space it will indicate it's own temperature and certainly NOT that of free space. Astronauts do not go from +250 to - 250 degrees in a few seconds if they did their suits would freeze and disintegrate as if they had been immersed in liquid nitrogen.

    THe whole problem is that we have rigidly been using the word time since we first began to speak, it is ingrained so deeply into us that it is difficult to cast it aside and look at things from a different angle, Well I'm in my 70's and can handle a new concept and I am convinced that given 'time' you will to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    OK it seems that several of you may not have understood exactly what I said so here goes, the day - (almost a complete rotation of the earth) - a month something to do with the moon ( :wink: ) ... A year the motion of the earth around the sun, time is a word invented to explain these things, a convenience, man made, there is no such thing as time, just as there is no such thing as a 5, or a 7, unless you tie it to something else, like 3 apples or two people, numbers are manmade to help explain things and believe it or not, that is all that time is. Now could I ask you to actually think about this before you dismiss it out of hand?

    Time does NOT exist in free space, 'Time' is experienced only by the matter in free space, just like free space has no temperature! - temperature like time is a quality of matter if you place a thermometer in free space it will indicate it's own temperature and certainly NOT that of free space. Astronauts do not go from +250 to - 250 degrees in a few seconds if they did their suits would freeze and disintegrate as if they had been immersed in liquid nitrogen.

    THe whole problem is that we have rigidly been using the word time since we first began to speak, it is ingrained so deeply into us that it is difficult to cast it aside and look at things from a different angle, Well I'm in my 70's and can handle a new concept and I am convinced that given 'time' you will to.
    As long as I am changing relative to something else, it gives me the notion of 'time'?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    OK it seems that several of you may not have understood exactly what I said so here goes, the day - (almost a complete rotation of the earth) - a month something to do with the moon ( :wink: ) ... A year the motion of the earth around the sun, time is a word invented to explain these things, a convenience, man made, there is no such thing as time, just as there is no such thing as a 5, or a 7, unless you tie it to something else, like 3 apples or two people, numbers are manmade to help explain things and believe it or not, that is all that time is. Now could I ask you to actually think about this before you dismiss it out of hand?

    Time does NOT exist in free space, 'Time' is experienced only by the matter in free space, just like free space has no temperature! - temperature like time is a quality of matter if you place a thermometer in free space it will indicate it's own temperature and certainly NOT that of free space. Astronauts do not go from +250 to - 250 degrees in a few seconds if they did their suits would freeze and disintegrate as if they had been immersed in liquid nitrogen.

    THe whole problem is that we have rigidly been using the word time since we first began to speak, it is ingrained so deeply into us that it is difficult to cast it aside and look at things from a different angle, Well I'm in my 70's and can handle a new concept and I am convinced that given 'time' you will to.
    I don't know if i am one of your ''several people'', however, the rotation of the earth, the slow formation of twisting galaxies to an entire universe from a Wheeler De Witt Equation, there is ultimately a convenient theory in which time is an observer-dependancy.... This theory is of course, special relativity, so remove the observer, and you no longer possess a workable time theory with space.
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    Oh another thing, becuase there is no such thing as 'time' except as a label to account for motion, there can be no such thing as time travel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Oh another thing, becuase there is no such thing as 'time' except as a label to account for motion, there can be no such thing as time travel.
    Oh

    So my time machine is not gonna work then
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    Quote Originally Posted by c186282
    Time is the slow and continual increase in entropy arbitrary divided up into seconds.
    Yet, notice you say arbitrary units. It is therefore not defined at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Oh another thing, becuase there is no such thing as 'time' except as a label to account for motion, there can be no such thing as time travel.
    But, and i reserve this ''but'' as a process of thought, but the time travel could be possible but only if someone is there to measure the chance. So even if motion is not taken into consideration, we can time travel all the time, and not know about it externally.

    Take for instance this:

    by Fred Alan Wolf:

    ''we time travel all the time, when we go to work in our cars...''

    Why? Because no matter what speed you move at, you always move off the spacetime triangle and distort space along with it. So in a sense, since no macroscopic object is ever at rest at a quantized level, you can say the components of the said macroscpoic object obey the specialized rules of relativity where there are objects that experience time travel all the time. Move that large object, and then you have a large collection of particles (the body is made of around particles) it will undoubtably time travel to move from one space to another space located in the future.

    This is the truth i speak.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    OK it seems that several of you may not have understood exactly what I said so here goes, the day - (almost a complete rotation of the earth) - a month something to do with the moon ( :wink: ) ... A year the motion of the earth around the sun, time is a word invented to explain these things, a convenience, man made, there is no such thing as time, just as there is no such thing as a 5, or a 7, unless you tie it to something else, like 3 apples or two people, numbers are manmade to help explain things and believe it or not, that is all that time is. Now could I ask you to actually think about this before you dismiss it out of hand?
    I guess this is what I was getting at...it looks to me as if "time" is a human construct...or maybe somewhat beyond our grasp at this...time. To the numbers thing, I agree with your assertion. In my class, I frequently sunstitute variables with random things; smiley face, apple, car, pencil, etc. I'm trying to get them to understand what the variable "x" stands for in REAL life...it's simply an unknown, and the representative symbol is not what's important; like measuring horses in "hands".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manynames
    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Oh another thing, becuase there is no such thing as 'time' except as a label to account for motion, there can be no such thing as time travel.
    But, and i reserve this ''but'' as a process of thought, but the time travel could be possible but only if someone is there to measure the chance. So even if motion is not taken into consideration, we can time travel all the time, and not know about it externally.

    Take for instance this:

    by Fred Alan Wolf:

    ''we time travel all the time, when we go to work in our cars...''

    Why? Because no matter what speed you move at, you always move off the spacetime triangle and distort space along with it. So in a sense, since no macroscopic object is ever at rest at a quantized level, you can say the components of the said macroscpoic object obey the specialized rules of relativity where there are objects that experience time travel all the time. Move that large object, and then you have a large collection of particles (the body is made of around particles) it will undoubtably time travel to move from one space to another space located in the future.

    This is the truth i speak.

    For Christ's sake PLEASE stop spouting garbage or just quoting others, you cannot travel backwards in time - not now, not tomorrow, not EVER! there is no scientific support for such mumbo jumbo. There is no mechanism in our universe to allow this, Time Dilation YES Travel NO unfortunately people have misconstrued time dilation and decided that if you can apparently slow the passage of time then you must be able to stop and reverse it - It's just bollocks, popycock, wishful thinking, following hollywood physics. Please note, I use the word TIME here for simplicity
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Quote Originally Posted by Manynames
    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Oh another thing, becuase there is no such thing as 'time' except as a label to account for motion, there can be no such thing as time travel.
    But, and i reserve this ''but'' as a process of thought, but the time travel could be possible but only if someone is there to measure the chance. So even if motion is not taken into consideration, we can time travel all the time, and not know about it externally.

    Take for instance this:

    by Fred Alan Wolf:

    ''we time travel all the time, when we go to work in our cars...''

    Why? Because no matter what speed you move at, you always move off the spacetime triangle and distort space along with it. So in a sense, since no macroscopic object is ever at rest at a quantized level, you can say the components of the said macroscpoic object obey the specialized rules of relativity where there are objects that experience time travel all the time. Move that large object, and then you have a large collection of particles (the body is made of around particles) it will undoubtably time travel to move from one space to another space located in the future.

    This is the truth i speak.

    For Christ's sake PLEASE stop spouting garbage or just quoting others, you cannot travel backwards in time - not now, not tomorrow, not EVER! there is no scientific support for such mumbo jumbo. There is no mechanism in our universe to allow this, Time Dilation YES Travel NO unfortunately people have misconstrued time dilation and decided that if you can apparently slow the passage of time then you must be able to stop and reverse it - It's just bollocks, popycock, wishful thinking, following hollywood physics. Please note, I use the word TIME here for simplicity
    I can travel backwards in time

    I just close my eyes and remember

    And there I am again
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    I can travel backwards in time

    I just close my eyes and remember

    And there I am again
    Sounds like a country song.
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    Quote Originally Posted by drowsy turtle
    Quote Originally Posted by c186282
    Time is the slow and continual increase in entropy arbitrary divided up into seconds.
    Yet, notice you say arbitrary units. It is therefore not defined at all.
    I imagine there will be a lot of words in all the posts here and in the end we will still be missing a clear definition of time.

    Note: The units are not arbitrary units. A second has a very clear definition but the definition is arbitrary.
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    What is time? What is love? What is life?

    Humanity's eternal lament...
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    Time is actually a man made idea. Nature just has movement. We chose to quantify it with the concept of time. It's hard for anything with some form of intelligence to not realize the presence of time. My dog knows what time it is based on her hunger level and who is in the house at the moment. The dog has no idea it's 5:00 PM and she should be fed, just that a series of well known events have occurred and she reacts accordingly. Nature doesn't care how many second have passed, only what changes have occurred. The fact that we have decided to place numbers against how long certain things take to cycle in nature is irrelevant. It is however useful for our own purposes.

    Time travel is only possible in the sense of outrunning light. If one could travel faster then the speed of light you could outrun your very one cast image and see yourself before you left. This is however just an illusion as your still in the future, your just looking at energy from the past. You could never change the past but only the future outcome. Outrunning your own image and disrupting it doesn't change the past, only the future outcome of that light.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (In)Sanity
    Time is actually a man made idea. Nature just has movement. We chose to quantify it with the concept of time. It's hard for anything with some form of intelligence to not realize the presence of time. My dog knows what time it is based on her hunger level and who is in the house at the moment. The dog has no idea it's 5:00 PM and she should be fed, just that a series of well known events have occurred and she reacts accordingly. Nature doesn't care how many second have passed, only what changes have occurred. The fact that we have decided to place numbers against how long certain things take to cycle in nature is irrelevant. It is however useful for our own purposes.
    HARUMPH!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    What is time? What is love? What is life?

    Humanity's eternal lament...
    What we need is a dreamy catch-all, that would "answer" those questions based on nothing scientific...something to make ourselves feel better about our finite existence...but what should we call it...hmmm...
    "Let your anger be as a monkey in a pinata, hiding with the candy, hoping the children do not break through with a stick."

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I can travel backwards in time

    I just close my eyes and remember

    And there I am again
    Sounds like a country song.
    It could be i guess

    Yeeeehaawww

    :-D
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    Quote Originally Posted by (In)Sanity
    Time is actually a man made idea. Nature just has movement. We chose to quantify it with the concept of time. It's hard for anything with some form of intelligence to not realize the presence of time. My dog knows what time it is based on her hunger level and who is in the house at the moment. The dog has no idea it's 5:00 PM and she should be fed, just that a series of well known events have occurred and she reacts accordingly. Nature doesn't care how many second have passed, only what changes have occurred. The fact that we have decided to place numbers against how long certain things take to cycle in nature is irrelevant. It is however useful for our own purposes.
    Yes, this is what I said with one sentence in the first response.

    Quote Originally Posted by c186282
    Time is the slow and continual increase in entropy arbitrary divided up into seconds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absum!
    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Quote Originally Posted by Manynames
    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Oh another thing, becuase there is no such thing as 'time' except as a label to account for motion, there can be no such thing as time travel.
    But, and i reserve this ''but'' as a process of thought, but the time travel could be possible but only if someone is there to measure the chance. So even if motion is not taken into consideration, we can time travel all the time, and not know about it externally.

    Take for instance this:

    by Fred Alan Wolf:

    ''we time travel all the time, when we go to work in our cars...''

    Why? Because no matter what speed you move at, you always move off the spacetime triangle and distort space along with it. So in a sense, since no macroscopic object is ever at rest at a quantized level, you can say the components of the said macroscpoic object obey the specialized rules of relativity where there are objects that experience time travel all the time. Move that large object, and then you have a large collection of particles (the body is made of around particles) it will undoubtably time travel to move from one space to another space located in the future.

    This is the truth i speak.

    For Christ's sake PLEASE stop spouting garbage or just quoting others, you cannot travel backwards in time - not now, not tomorrow, not EVER! there is no scientific support for such mumbo jumbo. There is no mechanism in our universe to allow this, Time Dilation YES Travel NO unfortunately people have misconstrued time dilation and decided that if you can apparently slow the passage of time then you must be able to stop and reverse it - It's just bollocks, popycock, wishful thinking, following hollywood physics. Please note, I use the word TIME here for simplicity
    I can travel backwards in time

    I just close my eyes and remember

    And there I am again
    Not taking Megabrains side on this, however, you do not travel to any past event by simply ''remembering''. In fact, the human brain ''recreates'' and experience of some past event only in the present time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    What is time? What is love? What is life?

    Humanity's eternal lament...

    Love and pain are but mere human components we experience over some time. If indeed that is what time is all about, then time is nothing but our referrals in space, which would make spacetime a flat three dimensional place where we assign passing moments.
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    Love and pain are but mere human components we experience over some time.
    What does this even mean?
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Love and pain are but mere human components we experience over some time.
    What does this even mean?
    Have i got this in the right thread... neverthless, love is something devoloped over time and experience. The pain can be synonymous with love, and sometimes cannot be indestinguishable. Therego, some of this you might understand, and some of it you may not.

    Added to this, one could easily argue that the love we experience and the pain that always comes with love, whether that be a simple break-up or of one which love experiences, we are assured that both are an integral within time itself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manynames
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    What is time? What is love? What is life?

    Humanity's eternal lament...

    Love and pain are but mere human components we experience over some time. If indeed that is what time is all about, then time is nothing but our referrals in space, which would make spacetime a flat three dimensional place where we assign passing moments.
    Yes... i have this in the right place in response to the question posed.
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    Forum Sophomore LunchBox's Avatar
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    Let me dig this thread up and dust it off...but I had a person tell me that time is the 4th dimension where "things" happen in a linear progression.

    Sounds reasonable...but still not much of a definition. I do agree that time cannot be traveled back into, so to speak...
    "Let your anger be as a monkey in a pinata, hiding with the candy, hoping the children do not break through with a stick."

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." *Einstein
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    I haven't read everything that was said, but the topic peaked my inerest and I think i have a simple way of explaining time. Time is a means of measuring motion, but the speed at which things move in the universe differs due to the compostion of the universe. The universe's existence may be thought of as a single age and within this age there are intervals only distinguishable by some form of measurement. The age of this universe its self has already been measured and its number is certain.

    We knowing neither up or down nor the exits of this age have devised several means of measuring the distances between the intervals (that we are aware of) not knowing the true number of the interval from which we begin our count. Yet our minds muse many things which we so often reason to be possible when we know so little.
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Son
    I haven't read everything that was said, but the topic peaked my inerest and I think i have a simple way of explaining time. Time is a means of measuring motion, but the speed at which things move in the universe differs due to the compostion of the universe. The universe's existence may be thought of as a single age and within this age there are intervals only distinguishable by some form of measurement. The age of this universe its self has already been measured and its number is certain.

    We knowing neither up or down nor the exits of this age have devised several means of measuring the distances between the intervals (that we are aware of) not knowing the true number of the interval from which we begin our count. Yet our minds muse many things which we so often reason to be possible when we know so little.
    But motion is relative...which brings it back to the human-centered understanding of time...it's one of those questions that boggles the mind!
    "Let your anger be as a monkey in a pinata, hiding with the candy, hoping the children do not break through with a stick."

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." *Einstein
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  38. #37  
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    Quote Originally Posted by LunchBox
    Quote Originally Posted by Old Son
    I haven't read everything that was said, but the topic peaked my inerest and I think i have a simple way of explaining time. Time is a means of measuring motion, but the speed at which things move in the universe differs due to the compostion of the universe. The universe's existence may be thought of as a single age and within this age there are intervals only distinguishable by some form of measurement. The age of this universe its self has already been measured and its number is certain.

    We knowing neither up or down nor the exits of this age have devised several means of measuring the distances between the intervals (that we are aware of) not knowing the true number of the interval from which we begin our count. Yet our minds muse many things which we so often reason to be possible when we know so little.
    But motion is relative...which brings it back to the human-centered understanding of time...it's one of those questions that boggles the mind!
    All things that may be known or that exist for that matter are relative. Nothing is understood without some sort of comparison. In order to distinguish one thing from another we must note the differences. If we rely upon the absence of relativity to define time then everthing becomes equally mind boogling. There is therefore no premise to your statement.
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    I remember reading a whole thread about time in the physics section once (almost made me go mad), and the best definition of time that was given was: "Time is what clocks measure".

    That's an operational definition of time which works good enough for the math. If we were to philosophize about what the true nature of time was, the closest would probably be: "Time is the rate of change", but even that is much to obscure to really help us much.

    As I said, the best definition I've seen so far is: "Time is what clocks measure".
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    I said that time was a means of measuring motion which is not an all encompassing definition.

    Time is a means for measuring specific things. If all motion within the universe were brought to a halt time would clock the length of the halt. This definition of time isn't relative.

    I also said that everything is relative, which makes no sense in terms of relativity, so I stand corrected.
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  41. #40  
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    Wouldn't it be safe to say that time is the relationship of motion relative to all forms of matter and energy.

    If you take any form of movement it can be used as a basis for which to quantify a duration of any other movement.

    As many have stated, time is but a man made way to bring clarity to the movement around us. We invited measuring devices specifically to bring order to our fast paced lives. Before that we used sunrise and sunset and movements of shadows, the rotation of the planets and moons, and stars, etc. We called this time since, well you may have guessed it...the beginning of time

    A more interesting question would be,

    If you take three perfectly stable and accurate atomic clocks and launch them out in to space to another planet at three different speeds, let's say .7C , .35C and .01C would the clocks all read roughly the same when the final one is retrieved by a person on the other planet and placed on the same shelf ? If not, why. Now here's the trick, don't mention the word time or anything related to it. This will force you to think in terms of movement all the way down to the sub atomic level and what might be happening (or not happening).
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  42. #41  
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    Time is continual change.
    A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it. - David Stevens
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