Notices
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: does time have an elementary unit?

  1. #1 does time have an elementary unit? 
    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    196
    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.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,169
    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.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    喫茶店
    Posts
    16,508
    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    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.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    951
    Since time is a concept of man ,it can be as short as you can imagine.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Fort Lee, NJ, USA
    Posts
    153
    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)
    .
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    769
    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    500
    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    267
    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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    769
    It's a speculation, granpa. There's no actual evidence for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhysBang
    Quote 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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    196
    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    It's a speculation, granpa. There's no actual evidence for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhysBang
    Quote 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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Ph.D. Dave Wilson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Cumbria UK
    Posts
    882
    That sounds logical to me.
    Latinos are Republican. They just don't know it yet.
    Ronald Reagan
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Sophomore somfooleishfool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    196
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson View Post
    That sounds logical to me.
    To what are you referring to?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,046
    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post

    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.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Ph.D. Dave Wilson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Cumbria UK
    Posts
    882
    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Wilson View Post
    That sounds logical to me.
    To what are you referring to?
    Your post, number ten. I thought that would be quite obvious.
    Latinos are Republican. They just don't know it yet.
    Ronald Reagan
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Masters Degree
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    500
    Quote Originally Posted by Farsight View Post
    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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    769
    Quote Originally Posted by somfooleishfool View Post
    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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    9
    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.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    喫茶店
    Posts
    16,508
    Quote Originally Posted by Spgsamuel View Post
    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?
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
    Reply With Quote  
     

Similar Threads

  1. "Elementary particles" - aren't elementary?
    By Deveiel in forum Pseudoscience
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: May 30th, 2011, 11:36 PM
  2. Elementary Teacher Needs Help!!
    By Mila in forum Earth Sciences
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: July 4th, 2010, 04:14 PM
  3. An elementary question regarding motion
    By Tahmidal Zami in forum Physics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: December 30th, 2009, 12:36 PM
  4. elementary algebra
    By marcusclayman in forum Mathematics
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: November 8th, 2009, 06:39 PM
  5. Elementary particle?
    By DarcgreY in forum Physics
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: November 22nd, 2006, 10:03 AM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •