Time is a Construct

Many have questioned the flow of time and how it works. Not to mention the different time zones and daylight savings. I can’t count how many times I’ve asked myself what the point of adding and subtracting an hour here and there is when we could just keep the time the same. I love the idea of time travel but I’m also no stranger to the idea of ‘the hole in the space-time continuum. So what is time and why do we keep track of it in the first place? Where would we be without it?

Keep reading to find out.

Time, while technically man-made, has also always existed just not in the way that we perceive it. Our minds view us as living in what we call the present because it is the most that our brains can process. We made up the terms “past”, “present”, and “future” because time is technically fluid. Our brains take a moment to process information so we are never truly living in the present, but always in the past. The brain can process images as quickly as 13 milliseconds which is much quicker than the previously assumed 100 milliseconds. It is different for processing textual information, however. Humans process visual information 60,000 times faster than textual information.

The principle of equivalence is mentioned in one of these articles. I had to do some extra searching in order to understand it because I don’t exactly strive in physics. To my understanding, it means that when gravity is not present, any object with mass will be in a state of constant motion. It was compared to an elevator in free fall with a person inside. The person locked in the elevator has no concept of gravity because of the falling state. This description fits the state of space, with the lack of gravity anything with mass is floating through space in the direction it is pushed. Except for light. 

Fun fact, light does not hold mass and is therefore not affected by gravity. Now that I think about it, it feels like common sense but I’ve never thought about it before. I’ve seen movies where ships travel at light speed or they ‘warp’ to get to their destination and this all has to do with light. This has to do with the theory of the curvature of space. Many scientists and physicists believe that space is not just a flat plane and that it curves around the objects in it like a blanket. This can help explain where we get our latitude and longitude lines from, along with how we split up time zones.

Among these articles, it is said many times that space and time are not only connected but are relative. Did I know what that meant? No, but I clicked a few links and found out. Before Albert Einstein, space and time were believed to be in a constant, fixed state. They never changed. However, Einstein came up with theories that negated these facts saying that both could change at different rates.

There is also the theory that if you travel around a black hole then you can hold time in place. What is a black hole? A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls in so much that not even light can escape, that is why the center is so derived from light. Because no light can escape, people can’t see them either. They are normally formed when a star explodes or when the center of a star falls in upon itself. Both of these take a very long time to happen, but once they do the effects are catastrophic.

While I’m sure time is a lot more complicated than this, it was still interesting to read about. I’ve never thought about space curving around mass or the lack of gravity in certain situations. Without time I don’t think there would be any drastic changes based on what I have here. We wouldn’t be able to keep track of anything though, and that’s probably one of the many reasons why we ‘created’ time as a system. 

 

 Sources

https://iai.tv/articles/is-space-time-fluid-auid-897#:~:text=Physicists%20have%20gathered%20evidence%20that,that%20is%2C%20but%20still%20evidence.&text=Sometimes%2C%20waves%20in%20fluids%20behave,be%20used%20to%20simulate%20gravity

 

https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/25759/how-exactly-does-time-slow-down-near-a-black-hole

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20130424041627/http://www.thebigview.com/spacetime/spacetime.html

 

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/a-rift-in-the-space-time-continuum-in-a-73751/#:~:text=Einstein's%20theory%20of%20special%20relativity,link%20between%20space%20and%20time.&text=This%204%2Ddimensional%20space%20is,a%20disconnect%20in%20this%20timeline

 

https://news.mit.edu/2014/in-the-blink-of-an-eye-0116#:~:text=However%2C%20a%20team%20of%20neuroscientists,milliseconds%20suggested%20by%20previous%20studies

 

https://www.askamathematician.com/2010/12/q-why-does-curved-space-time-cause-gravity-a-better-answer/

 

https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-a-black-hole-k4.html

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