The Concept of Time


The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali, 1931

In my quest to be a certified Astrophycicst, I have been taking this online course on Edx, in Cosmology (which is a branch of Astrophysics). The essence of this course is simply exploring the marriage between space and time. But as I was advancing further into this course, something started to nag me, and it persisted. We used different equations to represent “Time”. But I did not know what was meant by “Time”. For example, the equation for general relativity is structured as:

Einstein’s equation for relativity

This equation basically, describes gravity as a result of space-time being curved by mass and energy, and the “Guv” towards the left end of the equation is determined by the curvature of space and time at a particular point in space and time and is equated with the energy and momentum at that point. But what I kept asking myself is what is time?

What does it really mean?

Albert Einstein once wrote: People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. Einstein was also quoted saying that the only reason for time is so that everything does not happen at once.

This triptych of past, present, and future shapes our daily life in enormous dimensions. Time is not something that should be seen in a linear view, in which the past is no longer the present, and the future has no relevance.

Theoretically, anything and everything will be possible in the future. One could embrace the extent of time by configuring one's environment or reaction to this illusion of time.

“ One could go as far as to say that the future is something that does not exist in its final form yet and is, therefore, malleable and can be created from scratch.

Or, judging from a restricted human perspective, it is possible to say that the future is something that cannot be fully and completely grasped and recognized by our faculties and methods of perception.”

Henri Bergson, a renowned French philosopher, is one among a few who supported the idea that time is mind-dependent since he suggested that real-time, which he called durée or “duration”, exists merely in our consciousness.

What we can learn from this:

One must ask themselves relative to time, how should one live there life. For example, what is the reference point of one's life? One could say death is the only relevant point in life, so with that assumption what is the difference between 4, and 6 years. To illustrate this, if a student at 22 went on, and just finished a bachelor's degree, while a 26-year-old took a 4-year break, and traveled the world. In the relativity of time, those four years do not mean as much. Right?

I hope this invoked questions you have never thought about before. Enjoy thinking!



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