What is time?

Apr 13, 2005

The concept of time is self-evident. An hour consists of a certain number of minutes, a day of hours and a year of days. But we rarely think about the fundamental nature of time.
Time is passing non-stop, and we follow it with clocks and calendars. Yet we cannot study it with a microscope or experiment with it. And it still keeps passing. We just cannot say what exactly happens when time passes.

Time is represented through change, such as the circular motion of the moon around the earth. The passing of time is indeed closely connected to the concept of space.

According to the general theory of relativity, space, or the universe, emerged in the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago. Before that, all matter was packed into an extremely tiny dot. That dot also contained the matter that later came to be the sun, the earth and the moon – the heavenly bodies that tell us about the passing of time.

Before the Big Bang, there was no space or time.

“In the theory of relativity, the concept of time begins with the Big Bang the same way as parallels of latitude begin at the North Pole. You cannot go further north than the North Pole,” says Kari Enqvist, Professor of Cosmology.

One of the most peculiar qualities of time is the fact that it is measured by motion and it also becomes evident through motion.

According to the general theory of relativity, the development of space may result in the collapse of the universe. All matter would shrink into a tiny dot again, which would end the concept of time as we know it.

“Latest observations, however, do not support the idea of collapse, rather inter-galactic distances grow at a rapid pace,” Enqvist says.

Source: University of Helsinki

Explore further: Breakthrough in nonlinear optics research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Evolving robot brains

3 hours ago

Researchers are using the principles of Darwinian evolution to develop robot brains that can navigate mazes, identify and catch falling objects, and work as a group to determine in which order they should ...

Facebook fends off telecom firms' complaints

3 hours ago

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg fended off complaints on Monday that the hugely popular social network was getting a free ride out of telecom operators who host its service on smartphones.

Scientists find clues to cancer drug failure

3 hours ago

Cancer patients fear the possibility that one day their cells might start rendering many different chemotherapy regimens ineffective. This phenomenon, called multidrug resistance, leads to tumors that defy ...

Glass coating improves battery performance

3 hours ago

Lithium-sulfur batteries have been a hot topic in battery research because of their ability to produce up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries, which means they hold great promise for applications ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in nonlinear optics research

18 hours ago

A method to selectively enhance or inhibit optical nonlinearities in a chip-scale device has been developed by scientists, led by the University of Sydney. The researchers from the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth ...

Explainer: What is a superconductor?

19 hours ago

Materials can be divided into two categories based on their ability to conduct electricity. Metals, such as copper and silver, allow electrons to move freely and carry with them electrical charge. Insulators, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.