An exploration of what time is

Definition of time from Wikipedia:

Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.”

Linearity of time (from order to chaos)

Time as a whole (containing all of space) is apparently irreversible. That means, it seems that change can not ever form reality to exactly the same shape as it has ever been before, ever. The present, even though it can be similar to past events, appears to always be in some way different from all time that has ever passed before it. A constant state of inescapable uniqueness or novelty.


Definition of Entropy:

“lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.”

Everything in the world goes towards chaos, simply because there are more unique ways a thing can be “disordered” than “ordered”.

Here is a one hour demonstration of chaos produced by the mechanical movement of a double pendulum:

There may be repeating patterns coming from the double pendulum, but in no way can we predict the exact path it takes before it does. And that is really the point I’m trying to make here; time as a whole never reverses, but fragments or parts of reality can be reversed to perform again; to cycle.


Definition of cycle:

“a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order.”

Cycles usually happens as an effect of reversing some form of entropy. Lowering the entropy of one system to a state of lower entropy can only be made at the cost of increasing the entropy somewhere else.* For this transfer to take place there must either happen two things: 1. An external force puts the disorder from the first system into an equally or more chaotic system. This force in itself requires the production of more entropy 2. The system is connected to an environment with lower entropy where the chaos dissipates into.

This ability of local parts, patterns or systems to reverse to the same (or at least similar) order as before is what gives rise to cycles.

* This describes using potential energy as described in physics.

Relative change (Measurement of time)

By measuring multiple cyclical phenomena taking place at the same time, it is possible to quantitatively (with numbers) compare a specific cycling phenomena in terms of other cycles. For instance, here on earth, we have the cycle of the earth rotating around itself, which we choose to call the period of a day. We also have the cycle of the earth looping around the sun, which we call the period of a year. By these two measures, day and year, we can figure out their relationship to each other by keeping track of when these cycles repeats. One year cycle repeats always only when the day cycle has repeated 365 times (days). And one day cycle repeats only in 0.00273972602 cycles of a years.* With these relative measures of change we observe what we humans refer to as speed and durationNot every cycle repeats as uniformly as a year or a day however, which is a reason why we find it meaningful to measure speed and duration of cyclical phenomena.

* To make these cycles easier to understand and use, we humans also divide these cycles into smaller parts which is why we have months and weeks but also hours, minutes and seconds.

Time dilation (Weird parts of time)

I don’t feel educated enough to talk about this concept in physics, so I’ll let this part be explained with YouTube videos.

The point is, how fast distance change between things (over time) affects how fast time itself goes, which is very hard, at least for me, to grasp. It breaks my concept that there is one universal and physics based present moment. It means that the physically experienced time is slightly different for everyone. That if I go for a car ride and comes back while a friend stays at home, the amount of duration that has passed between the moment I left and came back are not the same physical amount for me and for my friend.

Sometimes I get carried away when I write so it might be hard to keep track of what I’m saying. I want us to be on the same page so please tell me if it’s the case. The journey through this text is coming to an end. But before it is over I want to hear your thoughts.

What is time for you?

Thanks for reading.

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