l

Monday, 15 September 2014

What is time?


What is time?

Wikipedia defines Time as….
    Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects. The temporal position of events with respect to the transitory present is continually changing; future events become present, then pass further and further into the past.
    Time has been a major subject of religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a non-controversial manner applicable to all fields of study has consistently eluded the greatest scholars.
    Time is used to define other quantities — such as velocity — so defining time in terms of such quantities would result in circularity of definition. An operational definition of time, wherein one says that observing a certain number of repetitions of one or another standard cyclical event (such as the passage of a free-swinging pendulum) constitutes one standard unit such as the second, is highly useful in the conduct of both advanced experiments and everyday affairs of life.
    The operational definition leaves aside the question whether there is something called time, apart from the counting activity just mentioned, that flows and that can be measured. Investigations of a single continuum called spacetime bring questions about space into questions about time, questions that have their roots in the works of early students of natural philosophy.
    Two contrasting viewpoints on time divide many prominent philosophers. One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence. Sir Isaac Newton subscribed to this realist view, and hence it is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time. Time travel, in this view, becomes a possibility as other “times” persist like frames of a film strip, spread out across the time line.
    The opposing view is that time does not refer to any kind of “container” that events and objects “move through”, nor to any entity that “flows”, but that it is instead part of a fundamental intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which humans sequence and compare events. This second view, in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, holds that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be traveled.
No wonder time is confusing. The above definitions while useful don’t actually define time as a thing as the philosophers Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant concur. Time it seems is more of an intellectual construct. A construct we use to measure aspects of our world and not a thing in and of itself.




“I sit beside the fire and think

Of all that I have seen

Of meadow flowers and butterflies

In summers that have been



Of yellow leaves and gossamer

In autumns that there were

With morning mist and silver sun

And wind upon my hair



I sit beside the fire and think

Of how the world will be

When winter comes without a spring

That I shall ever see



For still there are so many things

That I have never seen

In every wood in every spring

There is a different green



I sit beside the fire and think

Of people long ago

And people that will see a world

That I shall never know



But all the while I sit and think

Of times there were before

I listen for returning feet

And voices at the door”

― J.R.R. Tolkien