The Illusive Concept of TimePosted: March 31, 2011
These thoughts are complicated, and I’ve done my best to write some of them down. I suggest you read the following post fairly slowly. This stuff is mindblowing…
Everything on planet Earth, and apparently everything in the universe is tied to this idea that events happen in sequence one after the other. The ‘present’ is also an illusive concept. As soon as we even mention the present it becomes the past!
Is time infinite? Did time have a beginning? Will time have an end?
Are we all moving towards an event that will mean total destruction for the universe? If we are, and the universe will one day collapse on itself or cease to exist in some way, would time cease to exist?
There are many questions and few answers. Up until a few weeks ago, I never asked these questions. But then I listened to a podcast by a very clever scientist named Mike Mobley (so clever he’s made amendments to Einstein’s theory of relativity).
From here on, everything I write is a paraphrase of what Mike lectured about…
First up…Scientists say space, time and matter are one in the same thing. They are in-separable.
Time itself is motion, or change. It’s impossible to go back in time, or forward in time.
Time is the most accurately measured thing in all of physics. But as it has been measured in different places, the shocking discovery is that time is relative- not absolute! If someone on the top of a mountain measured time, it would be different to the measurements of someone at the bottom of a mountain. If I’m in a rocket above earth, I may view two separate events that don’t look simultaneous, yet on earth they would be.
One of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century was that our universe is not infinite. Because we can observe the cosmos expanding rapidly, scientists agree there was a beginning which everything expanded from (aka the Big Bang). If something is expanding, it is not infinite. Scientists cannot see further back in time beyond the big bang. [Does this mean time didn't exist before the big bang?]
The 2nd law of thermodynamics says in any system, entropy (disorder) will increase. In other words the universe is moving from order to chaos. To go the other way you need energy. The only way we can understand the universe is going forward rather than backwards is because entropy is increasing. Therefore the universe must have had a more ordered beginning.
Apparently, the background microwave radiation that is effectively a ‘residue’ left from the big bang, is only seconds old to us, even though the universe is apparently 15 billion years old. So somehow, something that is billions of years old, appears to be just seconds old. Why? Well…The speed of light = the speed of time.
Finally, a question. Is there uncertainty in the universe, or is it deterministic? Can you predict the final conditions, if you have all of the initial conditions? Scientists are still trying to answer this question.
Here endeth my notes.
My brain is fried.
But something you may be interested to know is that this discussion brings together not just science and philosophy, but theology as well. Mike Mobley is a Christian and he believes (as do I) that God exists outside of time itself, and created time when he created the universe.
It’s interesting to note that matter, space and time are all inter-connected. Because life as we know it would make no sense if we didn’t live in a ‘time system’ where events happen in sequence one after another. It seems to me that God created time for the reason that events can happen. If time didn’t exist- how could we ever understand anything? Our brains can’t cope unless we imagine a system where time exists.
I invite your comments on all this. It’s fascinating but very difficult to understand as well!