The problem of time is recognised as
a problem in physics.
What is Time?
I submit that the notion of time that is used in modern science is rooted in the notion of time used by scientists such as Galileo and Newton. Although the mathematical notion of time as a dimension of multi-dimensional spacetime has led to great advances, I have noticed that there are discrepancies in the model that can only be addressed by postulating ever more dimensions. I believe that the problem lies in the meld of epistemological and heuristic knowledge that is mathematics. Just because we know how to build a model, we must not assume that we know that the model represents any kind of reality. We must never forget the historic lesson of epicyclic modification of mathematical models of space which came to be used as astronomical theories of reality.
Our models may be fascinating, but reality has a habit of not playing nice with them.
... three ideas that we now know to be completely wrong, but that were so ingrained in the astronomers of an earlier age that they were essentially never questioned:(My emphasis, please see link, above, for source.)
1 All motion in the heavens is uniform circular motion.
2 The objects in the heavens are made from perfect material, and cannot change their intrinsic properties (e.g., their brightness).
3 The Earth is at the center of the Universe.
"Of the more theoretical papers, Godfray's stands out as an example of caution in relating the ideas to the data. I would have liked to see this caution applied more widely; the development of hypotheses is essential for progress, but one should not confuse them with reality."Brian Charlesworth, in his book review: Levels of Selection in Evolution. Laurent Keller (ed.)
Historical Ideas of Time
Many historical figures have puzzled over 'this thing called time' and have concluded either that it is rooted in our notion of space and sequence, or that it doesn't exist.
"none of the parts of time has an abiding existence, and that which does not abide can hardly have position. It would be better to say that such parts had a relative order, in virtue of one being prior to another."Aristotle, in Categories.
St. Augustine is often quoted as having said:
"Si non rogas intelligo" (If I don't question it, I understand it.)The actual quote is:
"quid est ergo tempus? si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio"St. Augustine, Confessions, book 11:14:17 Latin version English version
"What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks me, I do not know."
St. Augustine's aphorism is widely know. Less widely know is that some thirteen centuries before Kant, he suggested that time is 'all in the mind'.
" impressions, which things as they pass by cause in you, remain even when they are gone; this it is which, still present, I measure, not the things which pass by to make this impression. This I measure when I measure times. Either, then, this is time or I do not measure times"
From the Wikipaedia article on Henri Bergson:
"Our ordinary conception of Time, that which comes to us from the physical sciences, is, Bergson maintains, a false one. It is false because so far from being temporal in character, it is spatial.
... our common view of Time is a false one, being really a hybrid conception, a spurious concept due to the illicit introduction of the idea of space"
The investigations of Jean Piaget suggest that children's grasp of the concept 'time' is strongly founded in concepts which (I would say) are entirely independent of the need for a notion of time. In short, a child must develop through a phase of using the concept of time as a tool before the child can become capable of grasping the notion of time as a thing.
"But once time has been made an object, the idea of time, like concepts of other objects, will eventually be elaborated upon and perfected in the manifold of concepts"The Child’s Conception of Time [PIAG6]
(Some related ideas following from Piaget's work, which may be of interest to my readers:
Conceptual networks based on pupils' conception of time free pdf download )
" ... some researchers increasingly suspect that time is not a fundamental feature of nature, but rather an artefact of our perception."
Is time an illusion?
"According to Carlo Rovelli, professor of physics at the Universite de la Mediterrannee in Marseille, France, what we perceive as time could be nothing more than our way of simplifying the universe."
Is Time Just A Trick Of The Mind?
"The past, present and future are only illusions, even if stubborn ones."Albert Einstein
Time is as Time Does
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once".
This quote is attributed variously to Einstein, John Archibald Wheeler, and Woody Allen.
If time has no real existence, what keeps everything from happening all at once?
This blog and the discussion is continued in Part 2.