Touching The Limits Of Knowledge

Cosmology and our View of the World


The Nature of Time     Lead: Aaron Sommers


Discussion Outline by Aaron Sommers:


There was some initial disagreement regarding the "true" nature of time. Some began saying the past is only selective memory, and we shouldn't even waste our time talking about this abstract concept. As discussion leader, I felt it was pertinent to keep us on track, and gave the results of my cursory research on this subject. First, time is defined as a measured or measurable period. Jared mentioned, along with Eric, that it can be regarded as a continuum that lacks any spatial dimensions. This initiated much feedback and an example of some kind was obviously needed.


I mentioned the concept of visualizing time's direction as an "arrow" in space. If everyone can accept the rules of entropy, there is a direction to events when they undergo change. More accurately, there is a history to them. My example is the following: my apartment room cannot be cluttered and clean at the same time. There is a progression from order to disorder, and this is evidence of directionality in time. The class was split on two views of time: absolutist and relativist. The former asserts that time is a kind of container within which the universe exists and change happens. The latter believe that time is nothing more than change in our physical universe, invoking the Buddhist concept of Maya, or the illusory nature of the Universe.


Largely because of ALBERT EINSTIEN, it is accepted that time cannot be looked at distinct from space. They are connected, though the details of this seem very intricate and confusing. It was made apparent, however, that time is now looked at as more "fickle" than previously thought. There has been some evidence of asymmetry in time, through the use of particle accelerators. Dr. Moebius described this experiment some though I still do not grasp it. Regardless, the class concluded that time is not a constant. If gravity and speed can affect time, we wonder...what else can?