Does the dimension of 'time' exist beyond our physical memory?

Does ‘time’ actually exists in the sense we believe it to? Most will look upon this question and then ponder how insane I am, or what drugs I must be taking. But, even just for a little light humour, please read on and post a (mature) comment :-)

My perception (although most would argue ‘mis-understanding’) of the world drives a belief that there is literally no other moment in ‘time’ other than the present. The world simply exists in this one moment, as we do too. In fact, the dimension of time seems like an intangible tool that we use to try and digest/explain/model our changes in thought, position, size, etc.

I wonder whether our concept of ‘time’ has risen solely from our ‘memory’? For, in my mind, just a moment in ‘time’ ago I was thinking ‘something else’. And in my mind I determine ‘that’ moment is completely separate from ‘this’ current moment. Then I logically determine, that ‘this’ and ‘that’ moment can’t be described solely by a change in position. (For if I was not to move, this moment is still surely different to the last moment). Thus the only factor for which I can blame this new moment on is a change in ‘time’. (((Have I lost anyone else here, or just myself?!)))

What if one was to argue that time hasn’t elapsed; that it is a dimension defined by humans to make logical sense out of our memory. Some might respond by saying that time does exist, “just take a stroll into a library and pick up a book on history”. Others say that time is certain because we have proved through scientific means that the universe existed more than 14 billion years prior to us. My shallow response: the past only ever exists in the present – a photo, a video, a memory, a book… without some evidence in ‘this moment’ what happened in the past is either ‘forgotten’ or, arguably, never existed in the first place.

We have an inherent faith in time; time doesn’t lie; it has existed forever; it is (disregarding GR) invariant. And most disgustingly, we view time as a guaranteed and unwaivering dimension of life.

Time is characterised by physical change, and yet physical change is characterised by time (back to the world of calculus; yet another tool to help make sense of the world around us). So, if nothing undergoes change can we be convinced that time is still steadily ticking by?

I pose these questions – If the universe stood still how could we convince ourselves that time is still passing? What would our models of the universe look like without time? Can we find another way to deconstruct the world around us through a different physical relationships?

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24 thoughts on “Does the dimension of 'time' exist beyond our physical memory?”

  1. The way i see it time is merely a concept that trys to explain events taking place in snipets of moments. Everything happens simultaneously in the present.

  2. The problem is that time and space existed before we did.. And if there was no such thing as time, nothing would have progressed to the point of our creation. I have often argued that without time to advance the aging of matter, nothing..and I mean ABSOLUTELY nothing in the universe would actually happen.

    Time is dimensional in that it seems to have direction, but the actual content of time is an aging effect that advances everything along to a different state than previously on a constant basis. Our sense of time incremements are made up, because time is a constant stream with no real divisions.. But that stream is there and does move.

  3. Imagine a movie hero thinking about his surrounding. He thinks (and may be right) that the computer effects are real. In fact movie hero is limited to his role to fullfil certain objectives put in front of him by the director and the actor.
    We are trying to give a definition to things that are part of the “movie” we are in. Our true personalities must be much larger and not material in nature. We are here to BE LIMITED to certain conditions and “play it out” so to speak.
    So if you think that your brain is pinnacle of understanding of the reality then you really must be out of your “real” mind!
    If the time seems to go faster the IT IS going faster, if the space seems smaller or bigger then IT IS smaller or bigger. If there was no single consious mind in universe there would be no universe! Time and space are sort of illusions we have to accept to encompass the experience of the physical reality. Every moment we live, we see few frames of the short film called life. When actor stops acting (when you sleep) he can relax.
    Once the role playing is done the actor can see, review, edit and refine the movie. You will become part of the actor and give birth to new roles.
    Hope this helps to see things from different viewpoint.

  4. I would have to say that the existence or not of any and/or all things we call dimensions (space, and/or time, and so forth) cannot really be answered by science, at least until someone comes up with an experiment that can tell the difference between such actually existing, or simply being a mental construct we use to explain the appearances. (Quite frankly, I don’t see that this can ever occur.)

    So, we are left with a similar quandary to that of RenĂ© Descartes (of Cartesian Coordinate, and Cogito ergo sum [I think, therefore I am] fame), which he writes of in his Discourse on the Method. There is no way to tell the difference between the interpretation that what we perceive with our senses is “real” (to the extent that the small portion of “reality” to which they are sensitive has any reality), and the concept that all the seeming sensory information we experience is nothing more than “virtual reality” (information fed directly into our thinking “self”, without any shred of external “reality”).

    Finally Descartes had to appeal to the idea of a benevolent God, that does not desire to deceive him. This appears to be the only way he was able to allow for any reliance on his senses to obtain knowledge of the world through perception.

    As far as science is concerned, it really doesn’t matter whether such dimensions have physical (real) existence, or are nothing more than a cognitive construct. Either way, science simply works at obtaining “observations” and “experiments”, and creating theories that, at least, “explain the appearances”. All else is either “unknowable” (via scientific means), or just “gravy” (a great working “explanation” upon which we can build our cognitive framework).*


    * Actually, as a theoretical physicist, with an ontological bent, I prefer to go beyond simply “explaining the appearances”. I prefer to know “what’s really going on behind the scenes”. However, I have to concede, as a scientist, that all that is “required” of science is to “explain the appearances”.

  5. My mind suggests to me that no dimensions exists. They are only added in or brain as part of the observation. The universe itself(whatever it is made up of) does not contain any dimensions. Dimensions are just about how our brains work and observe its surroundings. Just like our mathematical models of the universe are built up of dimensions. Think about how we need to transform realty into dimensions by measurements to be able to work with it mathematically. And to check the results for our mathematical models we need again to measure or transform reality into dimensions. Dimensions are the language of our brains operating system, nothing else. Maybe this somehow explains the weird things we have discovered in quantum mechanics because on this level we are getting closer to what reality really is and it doesnt know what time and space is. Because time,space and other dimensions are only part of our brains operating system and our mathematical models and not reality itself

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