The Nature of Time

Reference: The Universe and Physical Elements

When we look at the 3D figure of a person, we are looking at space. But when we watch that 3D figure through birth, childhood, teenage years, youth, middle-age, old-age and death, then we are looking at space-time.

We see every human being go through this same cycle. Similarly, we see groups, societies, nations, civilizations, species, objects, ideas, plans, actions, etc., going through the same cycle of BEGIN-CONTINUE-END. 

We can say that time is related to cycles of things in this universe. There are many cycles at lower levels, which are part of fewer larger cycles at a higher level, which are in turn part of still larger and fewer cycles at still higher levels. The cycles grow longer in duration but lesser in numbers as we move up to higher levels. The ultimate cycle is the cycle of the universe. It will include all cycles at all levels.

The cyclical nature of the universe is manifested as time. 

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Measure of Time

We may define time as follows.

Time is the duration of a cycle.

We measure the duration of these cycles in terms of standard cycles, which, in our case, are determined by the rotation of the earth about its axis, and the revolution of the earth around the sun. 

Time may be subdivided endlessly into smaller units to measure the duration of smaller cycles. Similarly, time may be multiplied endlessly to generate larger units to measure the duration of larger cycles. But time is, essentially, a duration. We keep the measure of time consistent by using the units derived from the same standard cycle of a “day.”

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Eternity

When an object, such as, a distant star, seem to endure indefinitely at its location, then it is thought to be at rest. Compared to that star, the planets are moving, and compared to the planets, the moons are moving. “Forever” then becomes an unchanging condition in terms of location or otherwise. Compared to it, a changing condition becomes a purveyor of time.

Eternity may be described as “forever” and the state of “absolute rest”. 

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Change and Motion

A basic change occurs when an object disappears at a location and appears at an adjacent location. Continuous changes in locations are interpreted as the movement of that object. When planets in the sky appear to move, they are simply changing their location compared to unmoving stars that form the background. The stars are relatively more fixed at their locations, or have greater endurance. The movement of the planets provides the sense of time passing.

Passage of time may be described as “change” and by the state of “motion”.

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Dimensions of Time

We may visualize the cycles on different planes like the conical arrangement as shown in the figure above. The larger cycles are more fundamental. The cycle of the universe shall appear at the base of this cone. It will be of infinite duration.

The common dimension of time shall appear within each cycle. Each cycle shall belong to an activity or an object. It will describe the history of that thing from the beginning to the end. 

The first dimension of time is the dimension of survival.

But there is another dimension of time along the axis of the cone in the figure above. This dimension cuts across the different planes of the cycles. 

The second dimension of time is the dimension of evolution.

In the first dimension we have changes that repeat more or less mechanically, such as, the common survival activities of day to day life, which can be quite complex. The physical speed and acceleration of objects shall also be included in this dimension.  The character of space and time remains the same within a cycle.

In the second dimension we have evolutionary changes. New characteristics appear, which never existed before. The very character of space and time changes when different planes are crossed. Here we find deeper reasons for things; and inspirations for more complex innovations. Space wise our view starts to become more panoramic. Time wise our view starts to include more of past and future. We start to see the impulse to evolve expressing itself in infinity of ways. The view start to broaden, and the ultimate view may be expressed as The Static Viewpoint.

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Summary

Survival is the pre-requisite to evolution, which is the goal. One is surviving in order to evolve. Underlying each and every cycle is the impulse to evolve. The universe is evolving in terms of increasing complexity and awareness.

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