# Thread: does time have an elementary unit?

1. does time have an elementary unit or can it always be broken into smaller units of time?

If it is the case that a second can be infinitely divided then could someone help me get my head around what I've just read? If there is infinite moments in time before a second passes, then how does that second pass.

2.

3. You stretch the bounds of my ignorance. There is something called Planck time which I understand it thought to be the smallest possible duration on theoretical grounds. I imagine wikipedia has something to say about it.

4. Originally Posted by somfooleishfool
does time have an elementary unit or can it always be broken into smaller units of time?
As far as I know this is not known. There are some theories that are based on time and space being quantized (loop quantum gravity, maybe, but like John I am out of my depth). But relativity and the standard model of quantum theory assumes they are both continuous (even if the Planck level sets limits on what we can meaningfully say at small dimensions).

If it is the case that a second can be infinitely divided then could someone help me get my head around what I've just read? If there is infinite moments in time before a second passes, then how does that second pass.
That sounds like a variation of Zeno's paradox. As such, if there is a problem there at all, then it is solved by the mathematics of limits: an infinite number of infinitely small steps still add up to one second. In the same way that 1.9999... = 2 or, to put it another way:
An infinite crowd of mathematicians enters a bar.
The first one orders a pint, the second one a half pint, the third one a quarter pint...
"I understand", says the bartender - and pours two pints.

5. Since time is a concept of man ,it can be as short as you can imagine.

6. Atoms used to be defined as "elementary units" of matter. But then their components (electrons, protons, etc. ) were discovered. The same will probably happen with what we decide calling "elementary units of time.

Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)
.

7. Originally Posted by somfooleishfool
does time have an elementary unit or can it always be broken into smaller units of time?
Units are invented by people. Like John Galt said, there's Planck time, but there's no sound basis for believing that this is anything to do with some smallest possible duration.

Originally Posted by somfooleishfool
If it is the case that a second can be infinitely divided then could someone help me get my head around what I've just read? If there is infinite moments in time before a second passes, then how does that second pass.
Actually, it doesn't. Whoosh? Did you see it pass? No. Time passes is just a figure of speech I'm afraid. And for this sort of question it's better to focus on something you can see, such as a metre. Get a tape measure or ruler and mark out a metre. You can divide this metre up us much as you like. But regardless of that you can still sweep your hand across it. That's how the world is, that's what's real, and again, units are invented by people.

8. Originally Posted by Farsight
Time passes is just a figure of speech I'm afraid.
Sadly, no. Identifying the time at which physical events occur is an extremely important part of physics. So too is determining the duration of events. Also, people experience time passing.

9. Chronon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A chronon is a proposed quantum of time, that is, a discrete and indivisible "unit" of time as part of a theory that proposes that time is not continuous. While time is a continuous quantity in both standard quantum mechanics and general relativity, many physicists have suggested that a discrete model of time might work, especially when considering the combination of quantum mechanics with general relativity to produce a theory of quantum gravity.

10. It's a speculation, granpa. There's no actual evidence for it.

Originally Posted by PhysBang
Originally Posted by Farsight
Time passes is just a figure of speech I'm afraid.
Sadly, no. Identifying the time at which physical events occur is an extremely important part of physics. So too is determining the duration of events. Also, people experience time passing.
Yes, identifying the time at which events occur is extremely important, but you still can't see time passing. It really is just a figure of speech. Open up a clock and think about what you can see. You see cogs whirring, or a crystal vibrating, or a pendulum swinging back and forth. The interior parts of a mechanical clock isn't called a movement for nothing. You experience things moving, and you just say you experience time passing. But you can't see time passing like it's some cosmic river flowing through the clock like sand in an egg-timer. In the egg timer, it's sand flowing, not time.

11. Originally Posted by Farsight
It's a speculation, granpa. There's no actual evidence for it.

Originally Posted by PhysBang
Originally Posted by Farsight
Time passes is just a figure of speech I'm afraid.
Sadly, no. Identifying the time at which physical events occur is an extremely important part of physics. So too is determining the duration of events. Also, people experience time passing.
Yes, identifying the time at which events occur is extremely important, but you still can't see time passing. It really is just a figure of speech. Open up a clock and think about what you can see. You see cogs whirring, or a crystal vibrating, or a pendulum swinging back and forth. The interior parts of a mechanical clock isn't called a movement for nothing. You experience things moving, and you just say you experience time passing. But you can't see time passing like it's some cosmic river flowing through the clock like sand in an egg-timer. In the egg timer, it's sand flowing, not time.
I would dispute this. If I know that object x moves at exactly 2 meters per second and I observe object x move 2 meters, I have observed 1 second pass.

12. That sounds logical to me.

13. Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
That sounds logical to me.
To what are you referring to?

14. Originally Posted by somfooleishfool

If it is the case that a second can be infinitely divided then could someone help me get my head around what I've just read? If there is infinite moments in time before a second passes, then how does that second pass.
Two infinities can cancel one another. For there to be an infinite number of intervals, those intervals would have to be infinitely short.

15. Originally Posted by somfooleishfool
Originally Posted by Dave Wilson
That sounds logical to me.
To what are you referring to?
Your post, number ten. I thought that would be quite obvious.

16. Originally Posted by Farsight
Yes, identifying the time at which events occur is extremely important, but you still can't see time passing
That's a nice, really bad argument. You're great at providing examples of this. You should learn physics and try to do some physics problems, then you would really realize the straw man argument that you provided so well: at no point did I say that people see time passing, I only referred to experiences in which the passing of time is fundamental.

17. Originally Posted by somfooleishfool
I would dispute this. If I know that object x moves at exactly 2 meters per second and I observe object x move 2 meters, I have observed 1 second pass.
All you can actually observe is the object moving. You say that a second has passed, but you can't literally see it pass. Anyway, don't get bogged down with that. Apply your question to the metre. You can divide that up as much as you like, but your object still traverses it. The same goes for the second.

18. Time started when we began to measure it. It only exists because we invented it. It is complete coincidence that we orbit the sun and our planet and moon revolve in the manner they do. We can give time a measurement and plan, organize our lives by calculating distance. In a way it can be used in mathematics I would compare it to doing maths with roman numerals. Very hard. Before existance (anything) how long would one second take to pass? There would be no measurement and no incident. Rather than a metric mesurement of infinity as we percive time it is actually a distance we explain in metaphysical terms and most scientists measure distance based on relativity and not with time.

19. Originally Posted by Spgsamuel
Time started when we began to measure it. It only exists because we invented it.
How do you intend to prove that the universe was static and unchanging until Man invented the first clock?

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