Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Flame Challenge to Explain Time

If you do not know about this, you can find the details here:

Here is my shot at it:

Hours, minutes, seconds, years, these are some of the labels that we use to measure time. In this way time is thought of as a way to keep track of what happens. Each thing that happens is stamped with a time. This is the basis for all of science—measuring when things happen.

Whenever something happens, something else caused it. Lightning causes thunder. Hunger causes a pain in the stomach. The desire to know causes a question. In science we believe that causes happen at some time and events at a later time.

From this you can imagine that our experience passes from event to event. If we think about it long enough, we will see that we can sort the things that happen into events that have already happened—what we call the past; things that are happening right now—the present; and things that have yet to occur—the future.

We can think of each moment of time as a snapshot, with the entire universe frozen forever. What happened five minutes ago will forever exist in that moment, and we will never see it again the same way. What is happening now we will only be aware of at some future time. What happens in the future has yet to be determined. We are always moving through time, into the future, even if we seem to stand still.

Our ordering of events is not perfect, we do not fully understand the nature of time. It seems like there is never no time, but there are places where things happen so fast that time seems to stutter. It is also difficult to separate the notion of time from that of distance, particularly as you go very fast, or you think of things that are very big—like the Sun.

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