What is time?
The notion of 'what is time?' has eluded philosophers and scientists for many centuries.. But today, we may have a break-through (i hope;). Yesterday, i gave my presentation to the NPA about 'this brand of determinism' which included a fledgling attempt to define 'time'. The host, David de Hilster, was 'a bit confused' by my sloppy usage of the word 'time'.. We spent some time ;) discussing our differing views of it.. It was illuminating in the very least.. David's perspective is somewhat traditional: time is simply the 'stuff' required to separate events and describe motion.. But this simplistic view may not be accurate.. We may need a 'slightly' more sophisticated view to comprehensively describe reality.
Some years ago, Wolfgang Pauli transformed physics by proposing two distinct and powerful notions:
no two massive particles can occupy the same state simultaneously
our notion of quantum spin must be revised: it's more like a matrix than a vector
(This is not precise but gives an idea of the complexity of 'spin' at the quantum level.)
There are hints of an equally transformative notion relating to item 2 and time.
Itzhak Bars of USC has been working on the notion of 'multidimensional time' but, as far as i know, neglecting components previously determined (from my perspective) to be absolutely required for a proper definition of time.. Just today, i have corresponded with him attempting to strike-up a friendly collaboration.. i'll let you know if anything develops..
Explaining to family (you cannot imagine the 'physics torture' they've had to endure from me;) has forced me to arrive at an interesting notion/view of time.. For the moment, forget what you know about time, forget clocks, forget special relativity,.. forget everything you have ever known about or associated with time. Just for the moment, forget everything you 'know' about time..
Now.. imagine a place in our universe that has relatively little matter and is relatively 'at rest' with respect to the rest of the matter and locations.. Let's give that place a name: Low Mass Rest Home (you can imagine a rest-home way out in the desert way away from the rest of civilization, maybe near Palm Springs;), so for short, we'll call it LMRH. (But never forget: this is a place with very low mass/energy content and very low relative velocity compared to other masses in our universe.) The reason for proposing LMRH will become clear very shortly..
We need something 'flat' (no curvature) to compare our location to. Our relative velocity and local mass content curves our 'time' wrt LMRH. Now this is where things get fun :) and you must use your imagination :) Please go along with me on this; you won't 'get it' unless you try.. Imagine two strings with very different qualities: let's call those things elasticity and impedance. Those two strings we're gonna call: 'elastic string' and 'impeding string'. Now imagine 'time' moving independently on those two strings as two beads moving along each. (i seriously wanted to draw you a real picture below so you wouldn't have to visualize it .. but i think it's better you try to visualize this..) Make it easier to visualize: use fishing line for strings and use real beads.. Tie both strings to a nail and stretch them out at 90-degree angles to each other.. Put beads on them both.. Move the beads out away from the nail. Remember, beads move differently on each line because they're different kinds of material: one is elastic and the other is impeding.. Ready for the 'ahah'? What we measure as time.. (drum roll please;) is the vector between beads. Nobel Prize? i don't think so.. But this is a notion of time worth examining.
How is time 'encoded' with elasticity and impedance? i believe that's a question future physicists / engineers will answer.. Hey, we gotta leave 'a little something' for future generations to 'figure out'.. ;)