Monday, September 12, 2005

The concept of time

Why does it matter if time itself is inaccurate? Basically everybody in the entire world goes off the "real or correct" time. Don't get me wrong, but if everybody believes something to be a truth then isn't it a truth. Everyone in the world believes the sky is blue, but someone can say that it isn't blue. So does that make it correct for us to question the validity of the statement that the sky is blue?
Time itself is very debatable. Scientific views of time say that the earth is over five billion years old. However, religious views (i.e. judaic views) say that the earth is 5762 years old. Which one is correct? Does it really matter how old the earth is? The explanation that the earth is over five billion years old makes it easier for us to understand biological views. But, maybe the view that the earth is 5762 years old means that before there was a "standard" time, years were longer than they are long. Each year could have been a thousand of "our" years. So, time is always going to be debatable because we simply don't have the facts. The only thing I want to rely on is that the standard time is fairly accurate and I don't want to have to go to some weird new definition of days and hours.


Blogger Nigel said...

I agree with The Hulk's views on the arbitrariness of the modern time standard, but i disagree that it is unnecessary to know the relative order of past events (whether they be 5 billion years or 5 minutes ago) because to gain a greater understanding of how the universe functions, we need to know about events of great amounts of time, such as the creation of the universe. As Le Poidevin outlined in his first chapter, our standards of time are created purely for our convienience, and there is no such thing as the "correct" time. However, since the system is so well put into place, we can use it to better understand the magnitude of time. The standard time allows everyone to be at the same level of understanding of our understanding of time, letting us work together to solve more complex questions about our universe.

11:57 AM  
Blogger mparent said...

Although time is a completely arbitrary measure it gains meaning through the standard of using it. However, I don't agree with the assessment that years used to be much longer. We have much historical evidence to suggest that the years have always been close to the same length as our current year. The estimated age of the earth as 5762 years old is highly inaccurate. It was derived from the supposed number of genertions since adam and eve with an estimated number of years for each generation. Even if you believe this method is a good one for making estimates, the method is not nearly good enough to make accurate estimates down to the year.
I also don't agree that time is "debatable". We know much about the history of the calendar going back hundreds of years and have all the facts that go with it. Since everyone must agree on a time standard it is an enormously complex thing to change because everybody must agree to change with it. A simple example is daylight savings time. This would never work if people didn't agree to set their clocks forwards/backwards. The community as a whole is what makes any metric work.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Kermit said...

I think that time was derived as a combination of natural events and our need to have a uniform society. The larger measurements, like years and months and days, came from the cosmos. However, hours, minutes, seconds, and even weeks are pretty arbitrary. So maybe there the "correct" time is the time that is most consistent with the universe, because that is the thing that, as far as we know, is most reliable (relatively). Also, I think that although it is hard to conceive of the order of events before a consistent time standard was established, it is still important to find out how old the earth is. Not only is it helpful in science, it is the nature of human curiosity to find out about our world.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Darron said...

If our assessement of time was thrown off, calculations involving space would be completely wrong, which could cause a problem with NASA operations.

4:07 PM  

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