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Does time exist?

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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2012 7:36:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 12, 2012 7:36:43 PM PDT
D. Thomas says:
Yes. It's not a settled question.

I'm not a physicist, but... as to whether neutrinos and photons have an infinite life, I don't think so. Like everything else, they were set in motion because of the energy generated by the Big Bang, and they continue to consume energy as they zip around. Seems like they'd eventually run out of energy just like everything else. I don't think they're exempt from the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2012 5:25:58 AM PDT
D. Thomas:

Then, according to your thinking, I believe time would cease to exist.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2012 8:07:08 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 13, 2012 9:32:19 AM PDT
D. Thomas:

1. Neutrinos (and/or other particles) don't consume any energy by "zipping around", unless they are being accelerated, which we don't have reason to believe.

2. The 2nd law may require some rethinking in this context, in view of the "dark energy" situation. It seems that this form of energy is on the increase, being that it is apparently a property of space, itself--the 'cost of empty space', according to Sean Carroll. That is, as space expands, so does the raw amount of dark energy, apparently 'for free', as far as we can tell. It just comes with the newly created space, so to speak. It is not clear that this energy is being conserved... at least, not to me. It doesn't seem to be being converted from some other source, or anything like that. [edit: The upshot is, accounting for dark energy, the universe now contains a significantly greater amount of energy, in toto, than it did in the past.]

3. If, in spite of this, the laws of thermodynamics are to remain in effect, then "consume" isn't the right idea, anyway. The 1st law has it that energy isn't consumed, but merely converted into other forms. However, I have an issue with regards to this law, as well. According to Noether's theorem, the 1st law is part & parcel with translational time symmetry: The idea that it doesn't matter *when* you start your experiment, the results will be the same. That is, we have no need to account for the actual time at which we strike a cue ball, when calculating its effects on the other balls. The same result will be obtained at 12:00 as at 2:00.

But what about if the cue ball is struck right at [or very near] the beginning of the Big Bang? In this case, we cannot move the start time of the experiment 2 hours earlier, since that time coordinate is nonexistent--so the symmetry of time translation fails at this boundary. I submit that this might mean the 1st law is untenable in this situation, by Noether's theorem.

Admittedly, this idea is based on some speculative assumptions. Thus, I'd be very interested in any opinions as to which of them might be wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2012 8:41:21 AM PDT
Energy is not required to maintain a constant velocity. A stable elementary particle can zip along at a constant velocity forever without the need for expenditure of energy.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 16, 2012 4:22:30 AM PDT
As I understand the situation, neutrinos escaping from a black hole maintain a constant speed, the speed of light. Does this mean that dark matter will expand as the neutrinos dissipate into eternity? Will dark matter exist at that point? Forgive my ignorance. I am curious, however.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 8:52:52 AM PDT
In the last few years it has been discovered that neutrinos have a very tiny mass, and therefore travel at less than the speed of light.

Dark matter and neutrinos are not necessarily the same thing. There may be other particles besides neutrinos which contribute to dark matter.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 9:40:12 AM PDT

As far as I know, *nothing* escapes from a black hole, including neutrinos. Insofar as black holes dissipate via the mechanism of Hawking radiation, this is a phenomenon that is restricted to the surface ('event horizon') of the hole: The vacuum is teeming with virtual particles, which necessarily come in particle/antiparticle pairs. If only one of the pair happens to be near enough to the horizon to be sucked in, then its partner cannot now be annihilated, and now this remaining particle has been 'promoted' to real status, whereupon it may escape, taking with it a little bit of mass-energy.

I don't think this has much to do with dark matter, per se, except that dark matter presumably can be sucked into black holes, just the same as any other gravitating matter. If dark matter comes in the 'virtual' variety, like everything else, then it, too, could be subject to this Hawking mechanism. These particles, being 'dark', would be exceedingly hard to detect--harder even than neutrinos.

Since it is very much up in the air what the nature of dark matter is, it is also hard to put much weight on speculations as to how it might behave, though. Who knows? Maybe dark matter resists condensing into clumps at the scales necessary for black hole creation. Maybe its particles are light years in diameter!

Even neutrinos are kind of incompletely understood, at this point. Not very long ago, it was thought that they were massless, whereas now they seem to have a small mass. But, strangely, there is some evidence that they might travel slightly *faster* than the speed of light! If this new data pans out, there's going to be a lot of 'back-to-the-drawing-board' scrambling in the particle physics community--as well as in a lot of other areas of physics, which have taken the speed of light barrier to be quite fundamental and irrevocable.

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 10:06:18 AM PDT
King's Kid says:
1) Of course time exists, if it didn't, everything would happen at one time and really ruin the party.

2) There is no spoon.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 10:58:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2012 11:00:53 AM PDT
D. Thomas says:
RRY wrote: "Even neutrinos are kind of incompletely understood, at this point." Kind of incompletely? Say what?

RRY wrote: "...there is some evidence that they might travel slightly *faster* than the speed of light!"

There's no such evidence. The CERN-OPERA FSOL measurement was an error. See

If neutrinos produce any amount of energy or radiation whatsoever, or if they interact with anything else, they have a finite lifespan.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 3:04:13 PM PDT
I'm glad to hear about this error. (Personally, I was expecting something like this to come up.) However, after reading this article, I see that they are still a little bit uncertain if this actually accounts for the error, although they certainly make it seem likely. Anyway, thanks for the correction. I guess I haven't paid as much attention to this as I ought.

Regardless, I still believe that there are outstanding issues surrounding neutrinos--especially concerning their oscillation, and also about whether antineutrinos are in fact different particles. BTW, according to WIKI, the Standard Model still has it that neutrinos are massless. So, if you want to consider them completely understood, feel free. But I would suggest that there are particles which are *more* completely understood. (Hence, my "kind of"...)

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 4:36:48 PM PDT
An article I read quite some time ago (when I wrote my first novel and when I had a character named Ms. Universe) said in the extremely distant future, black holes will begin giving off neutrinos when the universe is basically absolute zero. At that time all matter will have coalesced into super galactic black holes. So, from the discussion here, I can assume a possibility that the universe might dissipate into very small particles and those particles might dissipate into nothing and thus time would not exist.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 8:35:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2012 8:35:38 AM PDT
If one accepts that some subatomic particles are stable (implying infinite lifetime) then time would never disappear.

Regarding black holes giving off neutrinos, I assume you're referring to blackhole radiation, which is where a virtual particle/antiparticle pair is created right at the event horizon such that one member of the pair is "sucked in" and the other free to radiate away. This actually increases as the black hole gets smaller until finally after a VERY long time the black hole literally goes up in a puff of radiation.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 8:52:55 AM PDT

It seems to me that some of the many theories of deep time are more or less consistent with the view that matter/particles will become increasingly rarified. However, I think the idea is that the "nothing" will only be approached asymptotically, and only a few theories get to 'something' which is really 'nothing', in the sense you mean. The Standard Model still contains particles which are considered to be stable--meaning permanently stable--although there are certainly reasonable extensions of the model that toll the death knell for most, if not all, of these stable entities.

However, assuming every last thing is incorporated into black holes, it still seems to me that when these evaporate, the resulting 'radiation pop' at the end of their lives may be energetic enough to create particles other than neutrinos, and that the ongoing inflation of the universe would make it impossible for these particles (or neutrinos, for that matter) to ever encounter anything else. If these particles are in fact stable, then I don't see what it is that will kill them off, for good.

The question of whether time would still 'exist' is more problematic. It assumes a number of things which I find somewhat iffy, at this point.

1. Does time 'exist', even now? In what sense? If not, how would these late stages of the universe be any different, time-wise?

2. The very words 'time' & 'exist' seem to me to be tied at the hip, so to speak. For an object to 'exist' seems to me to require an extension in time (duration), just as an object presumably needs spatial extension to fully qualify *as* an 'object'. That is, if I try and think of an entity, like a geometric point in space-time that is devoid of any extension along any axis, it is hard to say how one might be able to determine its existence, since such an item would be physically undetectable, in principle. In fact, losing any one of four of these dimensions/extensions would make physical detection impossible.

3. If Minkowski is right about space-time being the fundamental structural framework of the world, then are we simultaneously supposing that space will cease to exist at the same 'time' that time does? Or is it that time and space need each other, and so as long as we have one, we have the other?

Nonetheless, it seems clear to me that the universe could easily get to a situation where no clocks were possible to build, where no observers existed to read them, and thus, where time, as a concept (or as a measurable thing), ceased to have any relevance.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 8:58:11 AM PDT
The fact that particles are in motion implies time, even if there are no clocks or observers. Likewise the fact that photons have a frequency.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 1:44:03 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 19, 2012 3:30:20 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 1:56:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2012 2:08:20 PM PDT

Addenda: Since motion is where time meets space, so to speak, and since motion seems to be the way we get a handle on either distance or duration, perhaps we should consider motion to be the fundamental 'stuff' of existence--from which times & places are derived, as a matter of logic. Just as the ends of a piece of string seem to require the string to exist, the various axes represent extrema of states of motion: 'Rest' is 'motion' exclusively along t, and light-like 'motion' is along some x axis, or combination of x,y,z, that we can readily define as x. But the t component of light-like 'motions' have no extension. It must be noted that from the perspective of the photon, neither is there any extension along x. This being the case, should we not define light-like vectors as 'motion' in the first place?

In the Four-vector treatment of relativity, it might be said that there is only one velocity--namely, c--and that the only question is, in which direction? Would you say that this mode of thought supports the idea that motion is really the fundamental concept?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 3:40:50 PM PDT
<<Likewise the fact that photons have a frequency.>>

Let this be a jumping off point for me to expound upon my relational view of these "facts".

DOES a photon 'have' a frequency? We certainly measure frequencies when we discuss photons, so it does seem like a measurable property of the object, in some sense. But, if we follow Einstein in his quest to ride alongside a photon, what then? It seems to me that the point of this gedankenexperiment was that the frequency measured is yet another relative quantity. Just as I might null out the frequency of water waves (relative to myself) by surfing them, instead of holding still, Einstein noted that an observer traveling in certain ways would essentially change the measured frequency, perhaps reducing it to zero. In view of this, I submit that the frequency of the photon is really a property of the observer/photon *system*, and isn't especially meaningful by itself.

As I inventory the concepts under discussion around here, I find that there are ways in which I can conceive of each one of them as relational properties of a larger system. Certainly, all direct measurements I am aware of are of a comparative nature. Further, quantum mechanics has pointed out how perilous it is to talk about any measurement without a simultaneous discussion of the experimental setup. My ultimate question is whether there is anything 'non-relational' about reality? Are there any rulers that can be said to self-define their own lengths? It seems not. Everything 'bootstraps' into measurable existence by piggybacking onto some other thing which is assumed to be a valid unit. But if all distances are defined solely in terms of other distances, then how are we to ascribe any meaning to the system as a whole, except as a system of pure relationships? That is, if all rulers were to simultaneously and suddenly shrink in the night by a factor of two, how would we detect this 'change'? Would there be any point in even calling it a 'change' at all? (Change compared to what?)

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 3:50:36 PM PDT
Does anybody know why my post was "deleted by amazon"?

I don't even remember what I said, but its hard for me to imagine what might have been offensive about it! I can tell you this, though. This is exactly the sort of crap that soured me on these threads for such a long time.

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 4:03:40 PM PDT
M. Ferrell says:
RRY, it's beyond me. This is the first part of it:
Which reminds me...

If time is being said to "exist", then I have a conundrum: For *how long* does it exist?

It seems to me that the scale of time (and spatial scales, too) are the measure of other objects that we claim to exist. A particular brick exists in a particular time and a place, *for* a particular duration, across a particular extension; If the same brick had a lack in either of those areas, we wouldn't say the brick existed. When I apply this thinking to time or space (or space-time) itself, then I come up short. These items have no measure beyond their own self-referential, self-fulfilling natures. At best, time

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 4:20:01 PM PDT
Thanks, MF!

Pray tell, why din't you post the whole thing? Are you self-censoring?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 4:39:23 PM PDT
M. Ferrell says:
I am following the discussion so they email me a reduced portion of the posts. I have to visit the forum to read the rest...that is, if it hasn't been censored!

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 4:57:43 PM PDT
I see. Oh, well. I'm sorry you didn't get to read the whole thing. I thought it was somewhat insightful, if memory serves. I guess I'll never know.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 5:27:45 PM PDT
jpl says:
Does time exist?

Clarissa says: Maybe not, jpl, but it is no bar to our discussing it.

jpl: Hi, Clarissa. I agree that the discussion shouldn't be done away with, so here is my humanly-limited perception on it--"perception" being the key word.

Say you're sitting in an empty living room with a white wall directly in front of you 10 feet away. You blink. Within a nanosecond, you see the wall again, but to you it seems that you see it continualy.

Some theoretical scientists who discuss spacetime say that in fact you don't even see the wall continually even when you aren't blinking, but that photons are entering the eye so fast that it seems to the viewer of the wall that he or she sees the wall continually.

Photons are being emitted from the light of the wall into your eyes through your optic nerve, and your brain is telling you the color (of which we see only a small spectrum) and fooling you into thinking you percieve the "white" wall continually.

It takes time for that information to travel from the wall to your eye, and for your brain to process it. If is takes time, there must be distance involved; hence the term used by scientists, "spacetime".

Looking at it from the "space" side of it, if you walk up to that wall, it takes time. Again this beckons the concept "spacetime".

My comment was meant to stimulate conversation, not to cut it short. I'm sorry if I sounded that way.

Peace and contentment to you,

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 8:07:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2012 8:19:06 PM PDT
Faithradha says:
One can look at Time/Space from within the limitations of The perceived FLOW of Time OR can perceive Time/Space from "Outside" the parameters of Time/ the All pervasive Timeless NOW.
From the experiential mind's viewpoint Creation (Time/Space) is an Historic Event while from the view of Infinite Consciousness / "God" Creation is seen as an ongoing timeless spanda much like a lightbulb appears to give off a constant stream of light but is actually a series of individual flashes. Basically we exist in a continual series of Big Timeless.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 19, 2012 8:40:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 19, 2012 8:49:55 PM PDT
Faithradha says:
Plus jpl...the mind typically assumes that when our eyes do close and re-open (after a perceived length of time), that we are still perceiving the SAME really is not. Consciousness actually creates a brand new wall for Mind to perceive in each instant. The mind perceives a FLOW of Time that is not actually there....just as the mind assumes a constant beam of light from a rapidly firing bulb.

So ... Time IS experientially real ...for the mind... but Transcendently speaking does not exist...since ALL exists within the omnipresent 'Here' and 'NOW'.
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