What is Time?

Reinarto Hadipriono

Is it true that Man constantly finds himself in the present throughout his lifetime?

Is it true that what Man calls the "past" is but his mere "assumptions of the existence of what he calls the past"? Is it true that in the present time what we always experience is actually the past condition of our surroundings?

In ancient times all people were able to say was that when the sun rose above them or when there was brightness then that would mean daytime; on the other hand, when darkness befell them, then that would mean night. Later, when they became more advanced, for the sake of accuracy in communicating meanings, brightness or day was divided into 12, by which we have eventually come to know such things as hours, minutes and seconds. From the revolution of the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun we have such things as months and years. The changes that we experience, one after another, give us the impression that we will, inevitably and sequentially, experience various events. Our growth from being an infant to becoming an adult further confirms that we have always been undergoing a condition in terms of time, which leads us to acknowledge such things do exist such as the "past," "present," and "fu!ture."

When we look up at the sky, especially at night, the stars we see in the sky are in their past condition-the lights radiated by these objects need time to reach our eyes. Similarly, all those things around us need time to get to our eyes and further to our brain. An object a meter away from us needs 1/300,000,000 of a second to get to our eyes. Thus, we can say that this object that we see is in its condition of 1/300,000,000 of a second ago. We can, therefore, say for certain that at present human beings are always experiencing the past of everything around them-it is as if we were experiencing/undergoing two different periods of time simultaneously.

Let's view this from the aspect of our feeling.

Since our childhood we have always felt as if we are constantly being in the present time. Even with the entry of external substances into our bodies which turns us into adults, we keep feeling that we are in the present. To say that childhood is a condition of "the past" would seem to be contradictory to the "existing" feeling.

Another example:

When we try to recall our past, the death of someone a year ago, and events a few hours back, are all these not just a present attempt to retrieve the things stored in the memory installed in our brain? Now, when we throw a ball from points A to B, we tend to say that the ball was at point A. Does this not mean that at the time the ball was at point A, the rays radiated by the ball left an impression or are recorded in our brain, which we try to retrace at the "present time."? Even a photograph of the past is no indication of the presence of the past, because what is considered the past, which is immortalized by the photograph, is a mere assumption we make at the present time. Physically speaking, the photograph itself is in its present condition, though it may have by now been discolored, or faded. We feel that we have a past only because "the past condition" leaves a trace in our brains. Similarly, the futur!e is only an imagination of things to come that human beings create in their brains at the present moment and the assumptions they make out of their deeply-rooted belief that there is a tomorrow

Denying all the premises proposed above would not only imply that we are experiencing two different times simultaneously, i.e. the past and the present, but also contradict with our own feeling that we are constantly living in the present.

But by frequently saying the phrase, "the present timem," one may appear to admit that the three sequences of time do exist. Do we have an accurate definition of "the present time"? Actually, how long is the time span that we call now or the present? Is it one second, 0.1 second, 1/100,000,000 of a second, or close to 0 second? Considering the fact that no matter how short a time span is people can always split it into "the past" and "the present," one can thus deduce that zero second, being the point at which no more division could be made, would be the most accurate figure. Or in other words, at this point terms such as "the past" and "the present," as normally used by people, should no longer hold.

The word "time," which we have been using for thousands of years, is not easily replaceable. "Time," which is considerably associated with movement, speed, acceleration, changes, etc., has become part of our daily life, because we are constantly experiencing day and night. Various apparatuses for measuring time can now be seen on the wall of every house, and the wrists of people. Time has become a topic of our daily conversation, seemingly becoming an integral part of our life. "Time" has also been used as the basis of creating new theories.

From all the examples that we have just pondered, it is apparent that we are moving not on a time-to-time basis, but rather on a motion-to-motion basis and we keep changing ourselves from one condition to another condition. The fact that while we "continue" to exist indefinitely the condition of our body and conditions external to it keep changing, which eventually makes us feel as if we are undergoing time. "Time," which as it is commonly known is divided into "the past," "the present," and "the future," is being used only in our daily language in its simple sense.

Note from the author

Those who object to these ideas are most welcome to propose the more logical reasons they may have in their minds so that we may have a better notion of the term 'time'.

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