You are Here: Home

Time doesn't actually exist - discuss watch

1. I've been doing a horticulture course, learning about energy in plants and growth. Then saw a Brian Cox programme where he said time could in fact not exist at all. In fact, everything we experience could just be energy and reactions. Which meant if you were able to reverse all those reactions you could effectively travel back in "time".

Has anyone else heard this hypothesis? Is it an actual theory?
2. (Original post by Captain Jack)
I've been doing a horticulture course, learning about energy in plants and growth. Then saw a Brian Cox programme where he said time could in fact not exist at all. In fact, everything we experience could just be energy and reactions. Which meant if you were able to reverse all those reactions you could effectively travel back in "time".

Has anyone else heard this theory?
It's a bit of a simplistic statement to say that 'if all the reactions could be reversed' we could travel back in time.

Time is an arbitrary observation between events made by an independent observer and those events are a function of the physical laws governing the universe.

The French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace in the early 19th century, declared (causal determinism) that if one could measure the positions and motion of all the atoms and know all the forces acting in the universe, then one could predict the future through intellect alone.

Heisenberg with his uncertainty theorem and quantum mechanics proved him incorrect 150 years later.

Professor Cox has just implied the same as Laplace's assertion in reverse, moreover all the physical laws of the universe would need to somehow also comply.

And as Scottie loves to say: 'ye cannae change the laws of physics captain'.
3. That would mean a decrease in the entropy of the universe, so no. Also, it would violate relativity, as what appear to be simultaneous events to one observer may not appear simultaneous to another.
4. Of course it exist - you're over complicating it. If we can measure it why can't it exist?

Posted from TSR Mobile
5. (Original post by uberteknik)
It's a bit of a simplistic statement to say that 'if all the reactions could be reversed' we could travel back in time.

Time is an arbitrary observation between events made by an independent observer and those events are a function of the physical laws governing the universe.

The French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace in the early 19th century, declared (causal determinism) that if one could measure the positions and motion of all the atoms and know all the forces acting in the universe, then one could predict the future through intellect alone.

Heisenberg with his uncertainty theorem and quantum mechanics proved him incorrect 150 years later.

Professor Cox has just implied the same as Laplace's assertion in reverse, moreover all the physical laws of the universe would need to somehow also comply.

And as Scottie loves to say: 'ye cannae change the laws of physics captain'.
I was over simplifying it to summarise it, but it's basically what Brian Cox said... I'm guessing he was basing this on recent research from other scientists? I just thought it was interesting. We have this ingrained understanding of time and base all of our activities around it, I found it interesting that it may not even exist at all.

Then I saw Interstellar... which has led to this post

(Original post by Blazar)
That would mean a decrease in the entropy of the universe, so no. Also, it would violate relativity, as what appear to be simultaneous events to one observer may not appear simultaneous to another.
What do you mean by entropy of the universe Blazar?

(Original post by james1211)
Of course it exist - you're over complicating it. If we can measure it why can't it exist?
Does time actually exist though? Or have we just invented something to measure billions and billions of reactions? I'm not trying to change anything - I'm not on a crusade to burn all of our clocks, I just think it's fun to think that there is no past or future. Only a now and in this now there are just loads of reactions happening.
6. (Original post by uberteknik)
Heisenberg with his uncertainty theorem and quantum mechanics proved him incorrect 150 years later.
Not necessarily. As far as I understand it, there's no reason to think quantum randomness does not operate according to laws that are at present (and potentially by nature) inscrutable. Laplace's conjecture hinges on the premise that we understand all laws, including the ones governing quantum random events.
7. To the Cartesian sceptic, time may well not exist. All that exists is this very moment. The rest is an illusion.
8. (Original post by Captain Jack)

Has anyone else heard this theory?
You have quoted a scientist positing a scientific hypothesis. By definition, it is not a theory. I just wanted to get the terminology correct if you want a scientific debate (though I note that you have posted in a philosophy forum, so maybe science has nothing to do with it, in which case neither has a quote of Brian Cox in a scientific context).
9. (Original post by miser)
Not necessarily. As far as I understand it, there's no reason to think quantum randomness does not operate according to laws that are at present (and potentially by nature) inscrutable. Laplace's conjecture hinges on the premise that we understand all laws, including the ones governing quantum random events.
I guess that fits in with quantum indeterminacy in which outcomes are described by a probability distribution uniquely determined by the state of the system.

In which case, as you suggest, the complete laws governing that state may not yet be understood.

But then that's how science works; theory is accepted as proof until an observation invalidates the theory.
10. Depends on what you mean by 'exist' - time probably doesn't exist in the same way as a table or chair exists, but as an abstract entity, it exists.
11. (Original post by Captain Jack)
What do you mean by entropy of the universe Blazar?
I mean just that. The entropy of the universe. The physical quantity of entropy in joules per kilogram per mole.
12. (Original post by uberteknik)
I guess that fits in with quantum indeterminacy in which outcomes are described by a probability distribution uniquely determined by the state of the system.

In which case, as you suggest, the complete laws governing that state may not yet be understood.

But then that's how science works; theory is accepted as proof until an observation invalidates the theory.
I agree that they are often accepted as proof though I think we should be careful here. What we have are models which describe our observations and allow us to make predictions, but whether those models are actually true or not... that's not something that can be declared absolutely from within the confines of a purely empirical framework.
13. How do you know anything exists and you are not just imagining it.
14. The statement is true but the laws of the universe would have to change
15. Time is a human construct created to describe, measure and synchronise the duration of events.
16. (Original post by Good bloke)
You have quoted a scientist positing a scientific hypothesis. By definition, it is not a theory. I just wanted to get the terminology correct if you want a scientific debate (though I note that you have posted in a philosophy forum, so maybe science has nothing to do with it, in which case neither has a quote of Brian Cox in a scientific context).
Good point, I just edited the OP to make this clearer.

(Original post by Blazar)
I mean just that. The entropy of the universe. The physical quantity of entropy in joules per kilogram per mole.
I don't understand what entropy of the universe is as I haven't ever read anything on that topic - is there a plain English explanation anywhere?
17. (Original post by Captain Jack)
Does time actually exist though? Or have we just invented something to measure billions and billions of reactions? I'm not trying to change anything - I'm not on a crusade to burn all of our clocks, I just think it's fun to think that there is no past or future. Only a now and in this now there are just loads of reactions happening.
Yes, i would say so, as you can categorise "events" that have happened before now, and after now. If you can distinguish that, you can create a system to measure between those events.

Something doesn't have to be physical to exist. Does maths exist? Does thought exist? Of course they do, they just aren't physical. Yes we've made them up, but they still exist.
18. (Original post by Blazar)
That would mean a decrease in the entropy of the universe, so no. Also, it would violate relativity, as what appear to be simultaneous events to one observer may not appear simultaneous to another.
But isn't it actually possible to decrease entropy, although it's not entirely natural and very unlikely?

I'm just a high schooler, though, so don't mind me if I'm being too dumb.
19. (Original post by ngt93)
How do you know anything exists and you are not just imagining it.
I often wonder if I am just a character in Grand Theft Auto C.

Personally though, I do believe that stuff exists
20. (Original post by Captain Jack)
Good point, I just edited the OP to make this clearer.

I don't understand what entropy of the universe is as I haven't ever read anything on that topic - is there a plain English explanation anywhere?
These videos are very simplified and all, but probably a good introduction to entropy. Much better than any English explanation, for sure (unless your physics bacground is very deep).

TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

This forum is supported by:
Updated: December 13, 2014
Today on TSR

Buying condoms for the first time - help!

Discussions on TSR

• Latest
Poll
Useful resources

Articles:

Debate and current affairs forum guidelines

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups
Discussions on TSR

• Latest

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE