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RomanRealtors's avatar

"time does not exist, clocks exist" explain your thoughts on this?

Asked by RomanRealtors (115points) December 17th, 2010 from iPhone
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32 Answers

coffeenut's avatar

Time only exists because we make it exist….ie with clocks, calendars, ect….

Nullo's avatar

Units of time are arbitrary, but events indubitably happen in sequence.

marinelife's avatar

How we measure time is a construct.

wundayatta's avatar

The idea of developing a unit of time is no different from making up kilometers to measure distance or grams to measure weight or watts to measure electricity. These are all human constructs that allow us to communicate with each other and to model our world. Time isn’t there until humans decide it is a good way to measure something.

meiosis's avatar

Time is one of the fundamental dimensions of the universe. How we measure it is to some extent arbitrary, but it most certainly exists. It existed for billions of years before we came along to measure it, and it will exist for billions of year after we’re gone.

Blueroses's avatar

oh,good grief! I read this as “cocks exist” and wondered why no NSFW tag.

Time is layered like a baklava touching and overlapping itself in a way that would make our little brains explode if we didn’t attempt to confine the definition to just a flat dimension.

ucme's avatar

Pretentious bullshit sums up my thoughts on this.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, there is no time, only clock time.

Time can only exist if there is someone/something to perceive it.

Man has always been obsessed with trying to measure the immeasurable. lol

TexasDude's avatar

Time is a concept… a construct we invented to help us quantify things like the movement of the earth around the sun. It’s a convenience that is mathematically sound and helps our modern world function, but as an independent concept, it may or may not be tangible.

helkie's avatar

There is no need for clocks if time doesnt exist, we make it exsist but, no one decieded what time will come next. Example: 1 Minute could be like an hour and 1 hour could be like 5 seconds. Understand what I’m saying? We don’t even know if there is an hour. I dont know how to explain this.

troubleinharlem's avatar

@Blueroses : I did too!

Paging Dr. Freud…

But I’m going with @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard on this one.

kess's avatar

Time exist where ever there is a begining and end.
Time cease to exist where the begoning and the end is one.

gasman's avatar

The only discussion I’ve seen regarding clocks as necessary for the existence of time is in the context of the far-future heat death / end of the universe, when cold particles begin to drift forever apart from one another rendering any kind of physical clock (or observer, for that matter) impossible. Some would argue that under such circumstances time has no meaning (always tough for me to wrap my head around).

Of course ordinary every-day physics, including relativity, is best explained by means of identical frame-localized clocks.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

whatever we measure using clocks exists but it’s a complicated construct, that’s for sure.

gondwanalon's avatar

It is now. It always has been now. It always will be now.

crazyivan's avatar

I don’t know… time is real regardless of observation. Entropy was occuring long before anyone was around to measure it. A better way to look at the phrase would be that time is complex, clocks are simple. Time changes based on speed, altitude, etc. and once we start trying to fit that in with our perception of time things get all wonky…

Odysseus's avatar

Time is relative. Ha what you are really asking is to explain Einsteins special relativity.
Thats a lot of reading.

S = D / T
Speed and distance are both variable, and hence time is too
A cop out explanation but an explanation nonetheless.

Odysseus's avatar

A couple of examples of how time is screwed up.
1.If one twin was on a moving train and the other was on the ground, and the one on the train threw out a baseball then the ball would appear to be moving at very different speeds to both of them.
2. If one twin stayed on earth and the other went off on a rocket ship at close to the speed of light , upon his return to earth the spacetraveller would find his twin to be an old man whereas according to him he was only gone a few days.

This link is to easier to understand than the above two.

Qingu's avatar

What clocks measure is just one element of the broader concept of time. Clocks measure periodicity. But time can also refer to a location in spacetime, or it can refer to something to do with entropy.

crazyivan's avatar

Who was it that coined “Time is one of those things we think we understand until we think about it”? Google wouldn’t tell me…

absalom's avatar


From St. Augustine’s Confessions:

“What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.”

I realize the clocks in this question just metonymize human consciousness; of course time would still exist and be percevied in consciousness even without their existence, just as the concept of length would exist without rulers. In a sense both length and time are measurements (of dimensions) and the units we apply to them meta-measurements.

So @Nullo and @wundayatta are correct re the measurement of time, although I would amend the former’s ‘sequence’ to ‘duration’...

“Instead, let us imagine an infinitely small piece of elastic, contracted, if that were possible, to a mathematical point. Let us draw it out gradually in such a way as to bring out of the point a line which will grow progressively longer. Let us fix our attention not on the line as line, but on the action which traces it. Let us consider that this action, in spite of its duration, is indivisible if one supposes that it goes on without stopping; that, if we intercalate a stop in it, we make two actions of it instead of one and that each of these actions will then be the indivisible of which we speak; that it is not the moving act itself which is never indivisible, but the motionless line it lays down beneath it like a track in space. Let us take our mind off the space subtending the movement and concentrate solely on the movement itself, on the act of tension or extension, in short, on pure mobility. This time we shall have a more exact image of our development in duration.”

(Henri Bergson)

flutherother's avatar

We can never perceive time directly, we are only aware of it in events like the motion of a clock.

6rant6's avatar

@Odysseus And if the ball thrown by the brother on the train clocked the brother off it, then the thrower could well expect to do time.

Quod Erat Dementia

DrBill's avatar

time must exist or everything would have already happened all at once.

ETpro's avatar

Welcome to Fluther, @RomanRealtors. Thanks for such a great question.

Time exists. It is one of the four detectable dimensions in the spacetime of our Universe. It is a baffling one, though. To me, it is by far the most interesting. It runs at different rates for observers in different localized conditions, slowing down in the presence of great mass or as an observer approaches the speed of light.

In Newtonian mechanics and in Relativity, time is bi-directional. By that I mean that if we can fully describe the initial condition, we can project the motion of objects in an orbital system forward or backward with equal accuracy. The same is true in quantum mechanics. Time calculates equally well in either direction. And yet time seems to have a single direction. I can measure either north or south from a starting point, east or west, up or down. But time always seems to advance in only one direction. This effect is called “The Arrow of Time.” But except for the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is hard to find an arrow of time in physics.

Sorry, I’d like to write a lot more about the subject. It is one of the more awe inspiring aspects of cosmology. But I do have to rush on. I have only so much time to get to all the other great questions here tonight. :-)

Winters's avatar

Sure time exists, however it is merely relative like so many things in this Universe of ours.

Sweetpea's avatar


What a bunch of hooey!

Time does exist. Clocks just track it for us. Moons, suns, seasons, ages come and go.

We are also confined by gravity.

Blueroses's avatar

^^confined by gravity^^

speak for yourself. :)

Sweetpea's avatar

^^confined by gravity^^

speak for yourself. :)


chewhorse's avatar

Uh, does anyone have the time?
I think my battery died (yeah, I know.. that’s what she said).

Zaku's avatar

True. Time is a concept. Clocks are objects.

kritiper's avatar

“Only Man can conceive the concept of time”.: I think somebody said that. To animals there is no tomorrow, no yesterday, no two minutes from now, no two minutes ago. There is only now.

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