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Is time a real concept?

Okay, so I know what you are thinking. This question makes no sense on the face of it. Of course time is a real concept. But ask yourself this.Why is it that we ask questions like 'Where does the time go?' and 'When will dinner be ready?' or 'Why is train late?' Why is it that when we are kids we are in such a hurry to grow up and when we finally grow up we wish time would slow down? Why is it those meetings always take forever but vacations never seem to be long enough.?

I ask these questions because they all show examples of how our view of time is based on perception in each of these examples. But the passage of time really does not change in any of these.

Our perception of time is also skewed by something that not many of us ever think about. That is distance. An example that is asy to reference is solar activity. We see the li of the sun. But it is always 7 minutes after it left the sun. That means what we see is 7 mintes in the past. I th sun were to blow up right now, we wouldn't know it for another 7 minutes.


ChrisJones 6 Mar 11

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If time is "real" it is far beyond humans' capacity to understand, not merely in its immensity but more so in its complexity.

We measure time based on movements of heavenly bodies which have, over eons, established our perfect biological rhythms with them.

In this though we have lost the concepts of the expanses of time, its possibilities but mostly the limitations of having so little of it. We see it as linear instead of as the mutable "dimension" it is.

In measuring time in the simplistic ways we have we as an egocentric speices feel we have mastered time when we in fact have made ourselves slaves of it.

In my humble opinion, time is not linear. Rather, all time exists simultaneously, and we are experiencing a piece of that small sliver of time in our life. As we experience time, we move from future to present to past just that quickly. But it’s stil there and available for someone else to perceive. That would imply the possibility that we can reverse our flow thru time and perhaps experience the past all over again. Of course th3 realities are probably not that simple. But the idea that all time exists simultaneously has been theorized before.


Far more generations of humans grew up with no concept of time than have grown up with any concept of days of the week or months of the year.


Time is definitely real. Other organisms also measure time--think circadian rhythms, migrations, and other time dependent events such as when to mate or when to store food, etc. Humans have only found a way to quantify time.
Also, side note: have you noticed how time seems to speed up as you age? Memories from my childhood seem to have lasted forever but the older I get the quicker the years seem to pass. I think this is due, at least in part, to perspective--as a child if you've only been alive for 5 years, 5 years seems like forever; but if you're 70 years old, 5 years may seem like no time at all.

Mea Level 7 Mar 11, 2018

All true!

All of that is soooo interesting and true πŸ™‚ ( It's scary )

Very true! I shall never forget my grandmother talking to me many years ago when she was still alive. She was about 80 at the time and I remember having some long, philosophical discussions with her about time and aging. She said one thing in particular with such seriousness that I never forgot it. She looked me dead in the eyes, unwavering in gaze or in tone, and she said: "You're never going to believe how fast time goes by at 80. Thirty days pass as quickly as one day did when I was sixty. Every week that goes by seems to go by noticeably quicker than the week before. I can actually notice the rate of change increasing, that's how quickly it changes". I'll never forget that conversation. I have also come to understand what she spoke of. Now that I'm in my 50's, I must say that ten days go by as fast as one did when I was thirty. It's a very interesting concept!!


Well yeah, but that's why we have precise measurement tools. 7 minutes is still 7 minutes, whether you're taking a nap or in a firefight. Much like how a like is still a mile wether your athletic and can run it in under 9 minutes without breaking a sweat or way out of shape and it takes you more than 30 and you pretty much feel like you're going to have a heart attack by the end. Time is real, even if our method of measurement is arbitrary.

your comment made me remember that we had two Olympians in my town ( the smallest in London) Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway were both competing for the first to run the four minute mile and were training together, and lived upstairs in our local sweetshop- I couldn't really imagine running that fast and probably still cant.


Time is a real concept until space dies. Then time becomes an impossibility and an absolute.
When you remove time, all possibilities occur simultaneously. When you remove Space, Time is both infinite and non-existent.

When it all comes to an end all of it immediately exists. So carries the infinite cycle of regurgitation.

I have no response to this.

@ChrisJones haha

You guys are funny πŸ™‚

When you remove time, it becomes meaningless to speak of anything (let alone everything) occurring. Time is needed for that! πŸ™‚


Time is infitine anyway, time is simply in the moment, what we live at this time
Sartre said 'The Past is the Future'

In the case of us humans our past eventually does become our future. Usually in less than 100 years.


Einstein showed us that time is not anything like we think it is. It isn't unchanging but can be altered depending on how fast someone is going or how close they are to a gravitational source. I've always found relativity very interesting!


Well actually siderial time is a totes human construct based on the estimated time it takes the dirt to make a complete revolution around the sun.
Beyond our little neighborhood time isn't a single measurement, in fact it's part of space its explained by Einstein in his theory of Special Relativity...hence the descriptive word Spacetime, or the bending of space and time due to the warping of it by both the gravitational influence of the mass of the sun And the mass of the earth combinded, or to shorten it..Entropy.


Time is an illusion and lunchtime doubly so.

Personaly, I don't believe in time, I use it to co-ordinate with people. but to me it is just another measure of space, a more encompassing one. To me a place in time is where every piece of the universe is in a certain place. I will meet you at x spot when all of these things are in these places, but to make it easier, we will use this device to estimate that and we will know.
Unless of course some of you are travelling close to the speed of light, then it won't work for you.
It doesn't work for me. Tis ok I know I am not making any sense, but the whole concept of time does not make sense to me. It is not a thing, it is not real, we just need it to create a sense of order in the universe that we can get our heads around.

When you are retired, Time has no meaning anymore. I have to be reminded what day of the week it is regularly.

@ChrisJones same, I set alarms on my computer, sometimes weeks in advance if I have something coming up. If I don't have anything planned, I live to the moon and sun, daylight, tides and such. So I swim when the tide is at a certain height, not when a clock says it is a certain time.

@ChrisJones I agree. I miss weekends.

@ChrisJones I agree, days are all the same, I too set appointments on my computer calendar. Other than that the tides and weather determine my daily activities, that is the way I believe it should be.


Time is both real, and... not so much.

It is a construct that we humans devised to help us to understand things going on around us. It gives us the ability to reference things in the past, or future (something animals, some at least, can't do). It is a fascinating subject. The reality of which is, no, we really don't need it save to be able to have those discussions.

Having come up with time, and creating abilities to measure it that become more and more precise, we start to reference that even. Thus, back in the day, a morning meeting was just that, a meeting that occured sometime after you got out of bed, and before lunch, generally when the sun was about midway in it's path for the day. It wasn't 8 "o the clock" (which is where o'clock comes from) or anything that precise. Later, as clocks, and then watches, became more available, we started having meetings on the hour... eventually, we would have meetings at 8:10 precisely and be upset when someone didn't show up until 8:12.... all of which is, silly at best. It causes stress.

There actually is a movement (too quiet mind) to have 'slow' clocks and watches. Watches that do NOT have a minute hand (OR seconds hand!). The idea is to get back to a day in which it is OK to meet in the morning, possibly over coffe, and talk about what needed to be talked about in as imprecise a time frame as you wish. Rather than thinking that if the conversation lasts more than 7.2 minutes, something is wrong!

Back to science, all of the social parts said, time has been a winner for science. It's allowed us to measure light, and the speed thereof and come up with concepts such as you have mentioned. It allows us to get a precise relative speed to different objects and thus a precise understanding of which is approaching which, and how fast (or which is running away, and how fast).

But, in the end, as one of my favorite physics professors said "we are in charge" of how we set up and view the problems. We created time, we should use it to help, not to create stress. Sadly, we do too much of the latter, and not enough of the former.

Oh, as for why time goes slowly in the meeting? You are forced to pay attention to... nothing. Which is what most meetings (the ones I have been in, in a corporate environment), are full of, they are a means for management to 'hear', rather than experience, what their subordinates are doing... wouldn't it be so much better if they could put down their watches and choose to experience what their subordinates are doing so as to understand it and realize what the needs are and how significant the job is?

The times that fly by quickly? You are engaged in something which has your full attention and is worthy of that attention. Sure, this can be a game, or music, or a problem which entices you. Being focused on this and NOT on the clock, allows your sense of time to slip and... next thing you know you've been talking to that cute redhead for 6 hours! WOW! Heheh... we've all been there. Why not admit it?

STOP watching the clock, watch life instead.

That happens when you retire as I have found out. Like I said, I constantly have to be reminded what day of the week it is.


It helps society function more efficiently.


Time is continious, one direction, it passes by, it is thought to have begun with a bang which expanded and continues to expand in space, time is closly identified with space with the thought that they may be fused

Psychological time can be quick or slow, intense or boring, it can be seasonal or cyclic. I think we talk of time passing because we have an ego, the self as the locus of unity, without such a 'stationary' point I doubt time's passing could be cohenently understood.

cava Level 7 Mar 11, 2018

Time is an integral part of reality. Many physics equations incorporate time into the formula. The ability of those equations to predict real results is conclusive.

JimG Level 8 Mar 11, 2018

In light of the universe and eternity, time does not exist. We count time by the turning of the earth around the sun, but in five billion years, earth will be a crisp and the sun will be dying. The measure of time that we use will no longer "exist," so how can it be "time"?


The Amondawa people of the Amazon have no watches or calendars and live their lives to the patterns of day and night and the rainy and dry seasons.They also have no age and mark the transition from childhood to adulthood to old age by changing their name.They have no words for week ,month ,year , minuets ,hours etc

Ah, but they do live by the patterns of day and night and rainy and dry seasons. So they do have a notion of time's passage by observance of repeated patterns.




Different perceptions of time by different people,


Time is only an illusion.
All time is really "now," the same as all energy is only one entity.

"For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." -Einstein.


Not really for instance your time in the usa is way different to mine and the first lights of fires etc from thousands of years ago are still traveling with the imaggise from that first light.


I always think if nothing was around to precieve time would time play a role.

Kind of like if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound. πŸ˜‚

it is a Jesus time too

Long before there were sentient creatures, time had to exist, to allow the supernovae to create the atoms that would eventually form sentient creatures.


Interesting that you would bring up this topic at this time. (ha ha ha) I have been pondering this alot lately. Specifically I've been considering how Einstein's theory of relativity figures into the whole concept of time. Some of the things I've read talk about how time probably isn't linear. However since as mere mortals we probably can't get our heads around the concept of non-linear time, I'll just have to accept it. According to some theories there seems to be the possibilty that time's flow can be changed. It's an interesting possibility and I look forward to looking into it further.

Me too! It’s a concept that I find extremely intriguing.

If time is non-linear, what is it non-linear with respect to?


Well, I think time is real. I also think that time is as much an individual property as, say for examples, our hair colour, our DNA, our liking of one food over another.

As in Einstein's concept of time, if I travel for 5 years (of my time) away from Earth as close to the speed of light and 5 years (of my time) back, I would have aged only 10 years. While every one on Earth would have experienced 30 years of their own time. From my perspective, I had travelled 20 years into the future.

We each experience our own times relative to how fast we are moving. The faster you move, the slower your time.

Here is Brian Cox, a UK scientist, explaining time travel forward:

EDIT: To clarify, although I think time is an individual property - it actually is not. It is only an individual property to us as much as we experience. It is a simplication. Time itself is space - as in space-time. There is no separation of "space" (as in actual space that we occupy) and "time" (as in time that we experience). But that's a totally separate discussion.

I’ve argued that Einstein’s theory was in fact incorrect. The passage of time doesn’t change. Only the perception of time. If I travel away from the Earth at the speed of light for five years and could easily observe Earth and its inhabitants, time as I see it would stop. If I return back to Earth at the speed of light I would catch up to the time that is current all the while observing time moving ever so quckily back to normal time.

If we were somehow able to travel away at twice the speed of light, we could watch as time seemed to move backwards.

In any case, I’m sure that there are plenty of ideas around this and each could be debated at length. But until we can actually travel at the speed of light, we cannot be sure either way.

@ChrisJones Well, that "Einstein theory" that I proposed in my comment wasn't my theory. It's from, you know, Einstein.

And they have tested this. Three atomic clocks that were synchronised at the start of the test were shown to have three different times. One clock was on a jet travelling East. The other on a jet travelling West. And the other left on the ground on Earth.

EDIT: The previous URL was broken. Here's the same one which I hope would work: [] I had to use Google's URL shortener to link to that test on Wikipedia.

EDIT 2: Hey, I'm curious. What's your counter argument against Einstein's theory of General Relativity?


One of the dimensions, as in space time. We only observe a moment in time, but our memories allow us to perceive time in sense. It's said that a Photon doesn't exist through time only as moments in time, when it is created and then when it arrives/is absorbed/perceived for it no time passed.


Time has been a real concept ever since its invention. Without time we cannot explain certain events or certain things.


Time is recognition of a pattern.

As much as the pattern is "real" then so it time. The pattern can be many different things... earth going around the sun, pendulum swining back and forth, sundial shadow creeping along the ground, the steady tattoo of a bass drum, chemical changes in your hypothalamus, etc... but the time is real in all of them as long as we admit the pattern is real.


The further you look in the distance the further it is in the past. Seeing the sun might be 7 minutes ago in the sun's past, but looking at your hand in front of your face is obviously pretty immediate πŸ˜‰ I've also heard people argue that time isn't real for some reason, it is, we have just found ways to measure it and track it, at least relative to us.

The way time is measured is in essence a completely arbitrary measure based on the sun, the moon and the earth. A year for example is defined as the number of days it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun. A day is defined as the number of hours it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis, and so on. The way time is measured could easily have been a completely different system. It was simply defined the way it is defined now as a logical representation of the system we based it on.

Yes, I have no further response at this time πŸ˜‰

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