Time: Is it linear?

OK, there is debate over whether time is linear or not. To anyone unfamiliar with the theories, let me explain a little bit.

Linear time:
This is time as we were pretty much taught to think of it. It progresses in an orderly fashion, one moment after another, building on itself. 1900 was a bit over a thousand years ago, and 3000 is in the future, and has not come to pass yet. Time travel would require some sort of a jump from one moment into another.

Non-Linear time:
Time is but an illusion in our consciousness. It is completely and utterly non-existant. The past, the present and the future are the same moment. The progression that we see is in our minds, and reality is that everything exists at once. Which in essence means, every single moment in history is happeneing at this one moment, and time travel is purely based in the alteration of your perception.

Now, I personally believe in the latter. I have for quite some time, but I just had an experience tonight that pretty much confirmed it for me. I was chillin on my bed having a smoke, and all off a sudden something inside me was triggered. I think it was because of a certian scent. But it wasn’t one of those scents that you can actually smell. Rather, it was one that you simply rememeber. It’s quite hard to explain. Anywhoo, this purely mental scent began a psychosomatic chain of events; suddenly there were more smells, and then memory, and then a fleeting moment of understanding. It was one of those moments where you have an epiphany, but in the next, you lose half of it, and in the next, you lose half of that, and so forth, untill you are trying to grasp onto it but it is slipping out like sand in a pasta strainer. Well, in this fleeting moment, three isolated moments of my life were all existing at once. The present moment, and two from my past, one from about a year ago and the other from about a year before that. Everything just sort of melted. And to make matters even more incredible, the person I was with tonight is the same one physically form the moment a year ago, but has evolved into a drastically different person, (so really, it’s like two people). But the person that I was with 2 years ago was a completely different person. And see, (oh! this is quite hard to put into words!) all three people were the same person. It was not an illusion. I think it was like, they are totally connected, even they aren’t literally, but since we are all part of a Greater Consiousness, it was as if these people were just separate bits of the same whole, plugged into different bodies. It was like, if you have a movie clip, and then you set different instances of it to have different properties. :beam: But the separate bits were different too. So that analogy is only half of it. Jeez, this sounds so bad the way it is coming out. There really aren’t proper words for describing the event. But hopefully someone will understand what I mean. Basically, I actually broke through the illusion for one breif second, and saw the overlapping of time and several drastically different moments exisiting simultaneously. I know this has some sort of incredible relevance to my life. I just haven’t figured out how yet.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

I see what you mean, but you have to realize that linear and non linear… are both imaginary things, there just to bind what time really is. I know exacly of what you talk about the, experience, yet for me instead of feeling at that same moment I feel like all my memories are sharper…

Both a methonds to trap and control what time is, and both are completle irrelevant as they are completle immaginary. And neither of them can never be confirmed, because there are strong elements supporting the linear methond as well :

 If lets say, Hitler, got accepted as an artist in the University

He probobobly wont do what he did. And there are other factors that if they happened in the pass, the future would be diffrent , a sort of cause and effect that can only be achieved in a linear form
… thats my two cents…

good point my beeriest of beers, but tell me, how do you percieve time then if you had to put a label on it? or do you think that labels are irrelevant and thus not worth defining?

Labels are just what humans make up… it is what it is, naming it wont change a thing… hours… are just names, that humans made up, yet they are purley immaginary…

I would still call it russian beer :sigh:

Cheers! :stuck_out_tongue:

i think it should be called golgi, for golgi is the epitome of purity…

but seriously then. ok, you made a good point about there being evidence that time could be “linear” (quotes added for your pleasure), but i could come back with things that would blow that right out of the evidence pool. for example, you could say that all moments are predestined since they are all exsisting at once, and we really have no free will, because everything is just, well, existing, and we are but puppets stuck in a freeze frame of eternity…
but that is a whole new can of worms. hehe

Well, no exacly, I mean thats why there is the chaos element…

There is the point of randomness… And sure you can say nothign is accedental and be a real Jedi, but there is the irrational and the chance factor. Because you can honestly say things can go either way, we are not frozen in a state of mind.

oo, chaos is a wonderful thing… i could ramble for hours about that theory (chaos the mathematical thing basically showing how deep in the seemingly random patterns in science and nature and life, there is an underlying order, blah blah) not the “chaos” like throwing a bunch of sheet around the room. although, i must admit that that can be enormous fun at times.


Personaly, I believe that that terms for time are purely created, but that the Universe itself is in motion in and of itself. If that were true then time itself, would exist regardless of the imagined words we use to describe it. In addition I have to disagree with RB in that the terms we use are not irrelivant. We have chosen our definitions based off of some very sound physics principals. 60 seconds in a minute is almost preordaned. I will grant that there are other number systems that will also work to measure the natural prgression of the universe. Between the various ones we choose, it is not relivant. But for instance, I could not simply state that 1 hour is made up of 51 minutes and still keep an accurate time.

Time: A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.
An interval separating two points on this continuum; a duration: a long time since the last war; passed the time reading.
A number, as of years, days, or minutes, representing such an interval: ran the course in a time just under four minutes.
A similar number representing a specific point on this continuum, reckoned in hours and minutes: checked her watch and recorded the time, 6:17 A.M.
A system by which such intervals are measured or such numbers are reckoned: solar time.

An interval, especially a span of years, marked by similar events, conditions, or phenomena; an era. Often used in the plural: hard times; a time of troubles.
times The present with respect to prevailing conditions and trends: You must change with the times.
A suitable or opportune moment or season: a time for taking stock of one’s life.

Periods or a period designated for a given activity: harvest time; time for bed.
Periods or a period necessary or available for a given activity: I have no time for golf.
A period at one’s disposal: Do you have time for a chat?

It is of course always possible that all times exist as one, but we could just as easily make that leap from any sensory perspective. If all places in the Universe are actually only one place, then Correspondance is the illusion. I still think it’s a leap at best.

So tell us Gogli, what do you have in your arguement arsinal that blows linar time away? I’m always interested in such thoughts. I warn you though… Phil and I often get heated because I feel he is not supporting his arguements and he feels I’m being a stuborn ***. Let’s try not to get to that point. :slight_smile:

i agree with golgi on the time thing. its just a way to measure and make sence of a sequence of events co-existing in a non-linear fasion. if you think about the whole concept of time, just for a second (excuse me) it REALLY does not make a lot of sence.

Imagine ‘the past’ as an object. By saying theres a ‘present’ you are saying that the past does not exist. And yet we know from memory that it does exist. So either time is an illusion or LIFE ITSELF is. Likewise we have an object called ‘the future’ we say it does not exist yet, but it WILL exist. How can we be so certain about it, unless it is already here.

Time may not exist, but it is a useful term to describe the gradual awakening of the brain.

Time can be whatever it wants. I am linear, and my attempts to understand it will be always be wrong anyway.

  •  or

Why explain to my linear self what my non-linear self takes for granted.

I don’t see how anyone is proving that time doesn’t exist.

The definition of one minute is a falacy, yes… but the nature of movement is not being disproven here. ei, if one object moves from point A to point B, all other objects are in their own paths moving as well. If object A and object B are moving in paralel paths, and B has a velocity of twice A, B will get to point C before A, given no alternative outside interfierance…
If time didn’t exist, then this could not be held to be true, 100% of the time. But we can hold this true 100% of the time. Any experiment you come up with will produce the same result.

So unless you have some proof that this is not true, you’re just talking speculation… and poorly founded speculation at that. Remember people, something is true not because people “FEEL” it is true, but because no experiment can be devised which disproves it, AND it is the simplest answer given all things being equal.

Ahhhhhh!!! too Deep! too deep!

::mind explodes::

Ok, first let me respond to your first post David, (sorry for the delay, I have not been on Kirupa much lately)

*Originally posted by david *
**So tell us Gogli, what do you have in your arguement arsinal that blows linar time away? **

First of all, when I said that I had things that could blow Russian Beer’s thing outta the water, you must realize that I was referring to simple theoretical arguments that could be proposed to provide an alternative to his theory. Basically, he has no physical proof of his, and anything I could come up with in reply also has no physical proof, or else we would have no reason to debate this because we would all know Truth, one way or the other. So you see that I was not referring to concrete evidence, but merely alternative possibilites. That said, I can provide for you some more substantial things then simple speculation on my theory.

First, before I go any further, I would like to challenge you, or Phil, or any kirupan for that matter to unarguably prove that time does indeed exist.

OK. Now. Onto some fun stuff. Lets assume that time is linear because everyone thinks that. In this linear state of time, everything moves in a forward progression past >>> present >>> future. However, if you really think about it, at any given moment, past, present and future are interwoven. Take this moment. Just sit there and consiously recognize a moment. The past, the present and the future are all occuring at that moment. Therefore… nonlinear time.

Now you may say that that stinks, because it is mere speculation, and no substantial evidence. So let’s move onto a little more scientific example. Life is pretty much govorned by the laws of mechanics, which are completely time reversable. If you were to take a ball and roll it along a surface, the laws that allow it to roll along that surface would be reversable in a “rewind” and still work. Now, take a look at all the successful equations of physics; Newtons laws, Einsteins relativity, the Scroedinger equation, Maxwells equations. These are completely symetrical in time. If you reverse their direction, and replace t with -t (the coordinate that represents time) they all are equally as effective. This shows that the past and future are relatively equal. Now, this can all imply that time is linear, but the important part is proving that the past and future are indeed equal. If we move onto some thermydynamics, this begins to take on a new light.

Take a cup of coffee. It cools forward, in the direction of the future, and gets hotter in the reverse, into the past. However, the behavior of heat is, unlike mechanics, unreversable in time. This characterizes the second law of thermodynamics that states “Energy spontaneously tends to flow only from being concentrated in one place to becoming diffused and spread out.” No matter how you try, there is no way to scientifically prove that the movement of energy is reversable, in fact, you always come back to the point that it is not. Which esentially means that the fact that the coffee can cool at all is astounding. Because, according to the laws of mechanics, each of the particles’ movements would be reversible in time. This shows a striking contradiction in two well knows sciences that we have PROVEN to be true. Now, this also shows that time must not be reversible, and must only move in one direction either linear or nonliner, but one direction all the same. If we combine the two results from the ball test and the coffee test we see that the past and the future are both identical, and also that time must only move forward and not backwards. Therefore, the only way this is possible is if the past and the future were overlayed, as opposed to adjacent. Which may or may not originate form the present which is the “starting point”. Let me show you a diagram.

OK, now in the diagram, time is represented as linear, since we are starting from that as the “commonly accepted belief”. As you see in the first, that is our typical perception of time. But in the second, it depicts a new element of the layout that we just proved to be very possible, and even likely. Now. If time is indeed composed of this “overlapping” structure, then the questions arise as to the importance of the center point, where exactly IS that point, how it is measured, and whatnot. If that point is in fact one miniscule point that the present exists in, comparable in size to the theoretical point used in geometry, then we realize that the point is really infinitely small, because the basic definition of a point is “An undefined term. It is the basic unit of geometry. It has no size, it is infinitely small, and has only location.” And we MUST compare the point of the present to a geometrical point, otherwise, it would also begin to encompass the past and the future. So this brings us to the speculation again on how large that point is, that fleeting moment that is infinitely smaller then any consious awareness. Now lets look at the spot where the past and the future flow from the point of the present. They must be exactly adjacent to eachother. Now, look at the geometrical definition of a line. “An undefined term. It is a straight arrangement of points. There are infinitely many points in a line. A line has infinite length but no thickness and it extends forever in two directions.” So if the past and future are a line extending from the present, there must be one single point that is adjacent to the present where the line begins. I also must mention the fact that a LINE which MUST be infinite, is absolutely NOT infinite in the second figure in the diagram. Which really, would completely debunk the idea of linearity in time if this situation were reality. Or at the least, show that past/future, which appears to be a line, is not, in fact, a line.
Back to the two points of present and the beginning of the past/future line. Here is a “zoomed in” representation fo what we are speaking of.

First, the space that exists between the two points is non-existant, I only put it there to illustrate something, which I will describe in a bit. Now if you take these two points, they are infinitely close to eachother, and do NOT stretch into eternity, for then, you would have to have more points inbetween them. So those two points do NOT display linearity. So we have two points, side by side, and infinitely close to one another. Here is why I put this space in. To show you WHY they are infintely close… You can put them as close to eachother as you want visually, but then, as you zoom in, you would have to again reposition them to make them closer. So anyways, The whole of time, past, present, and future, now exist in these two points. (We can chose to disregard any other past/future points that follow the initial point because they are not relevant. The reason they are not relevant is simple. Time can be seen existing in two points, so why add more? Even if they are truely there, they do not help in any way to make time more linear, for as we discovered earlier, the past/future line is not a line.)
So if we have now seen that the whole of time is displayed in merely two points, we also can see the whole POINT (yes, pun intended) of this essay; TIME IS NOT LINEAR. Because two points, two SINGLE points, can NOT make a line. ONLY the successive network of an infinite amount of points can do that.

Now of course, this explanation can probably not be difinitively proven, for if it could we would not be in this debate right now. But it sure as heck offers some plausible arguments for the existence of nonlinear time, arguments that have their root in core prinicples of physics. And if we were to say that these principles are irrelevant, then we would be denying the whole of modern science as we understand it. Which then, in rights, would completely annhilate our rights to even begin to claim knowledge of it. :beam:

*Originally posted by golgi *
Now, I personally believe in the latter. I have for quite some time

Ok that was funny :slight_smile:
:continues reading the rest:

*Originally posted by senocular *
**Ok that was funny :slight_smile:
:continues reading the rest: **

lol… im glad SOMEONE noticed :wink:

*Originally posted by Phil Jayhan *
…phloat by phloat…

hehehhee. im sorry… some things look utterly giggly when spelled in Philian :wink:

*Originally posted by Phil Jayhan *
**It’s a paradox…as they are both inter-connected;

very good points you made Phil. :slight_smile:

golgi, truely you have a dizzing intellect though from what Ive read and gathered, full of contradictions

without getting too much into it (I havent much time after reading)

  1. Time does exist because we have defined it too. Our perception of existence is defined by our perceptions of existence. A dog exists. Why? Because we say it does. Time exists. Why? Because we say it does. That phenomenon we percieve as ‘time’ in our every day life understood as well as it is defined as is our definition of ‘existance’ itself. Time is not as plastic as a dog, but its existance in conception such as the existance of my need to go to the bathroom is real.

  2. Your goings on about time (with loverly diagrams ;)) and misguided analogies did more for proving that time is linear than not. Time is not coffee; it cannot be compared to coffee. The forces involved in governing coffee and those within time are completely different entities. Coffee doesnt even cool linearly. Time, on the other hand, is probably the epitome of linearity because its definition defines it as being so.

Does the past, present and future exist within the same time? No. In any given point in time, you are either in the past, present or the future. The point of the present, though, is defined in time’s linear “timeline” as a single point in time whereas the past and future constitute the remaining portions. In terms of time, the present will be the past as time progresses, but at the point of ‘present’ it is neither the past nor the future; merely the present. Because time is always in motion, however, it is difficult to percieve that one point in time as being defined as only that … single point in time. If, in terms of concious understanding, you attempt to percieve the ‘present’ then the ‘time’ it takes for cognitive processes to analyze that point would then render that point in time as no longer being within the present, but the past. That process, though, does not figure into the definition of that point as it is a process aside from its intention.


You make a home video of your kid playing in the sandbox. You shoot this video from 2pm to 2:30pm. This video was taken within the time of 2 - 2:30. There you have a linear progression from one perceptual starting point to one perceptual ending point. A start, ‘middle’ and an end. As you play back this video you have the opportunity to stop at a ‘present’ point in time. Because this timeline exists outside of the current timeline - the progression of real time (as this is recorded time) you are able to more easily analyze its linearity in a fashion that would, if looking at ‘actual’ time, be confused with the current progression of that time. Does the video exist within the same time? I would never think it to. I cant see the end and the beginning at the same time without that linear progression through that time to reach the opposing time.

However, in terms of dimension, time can lose its linearity in that it can have infinite diversions from its current place in time. However, those diversions cannot coexist as they are themselves different timelines which may simply share current events in time. If you were to travel back in time, you would no longer be in the present timeline since you have altered the progression of your current timeline - not event that, however, as going back in time would actually put you on another timeline aside from your own. It would be similar to your own up to the point which you were sent back to, but because of that divergence, the following timeline itself (THE timeline) is completely different as the past has been changed.

So time itself is linear given any one timeline though infinite timelines exist for each and every possibility … ‘possible’ within that timeline.

[edit] (spelling) You know, I can read existence and know its spelled existence but when I type it it always comes out existance :scream: So then I read it and am like… thats not right! heh [/edit]

So I’m sitting here, puzzled over why people seem to think that I stated time is nonexistent, and thinking to myself, why would they think that, I never said that…
and then I reread my first post…

*Originally posted by golgi *
**Non-Linear time:
Time is but an illusion in our consciousness. It is completely and utterly non-existant. The past, the present and the future are the same moment. The progression that we see is in our minds, and reality is that everything exists at once. **

… and then I started chewing on my foot…
hahah. Let me clarify something for all the confused readers out there. When I said time, I was referring to, not time as a whole, but progressive time as we percieve it. I thought this was apparent from the context and full definition, but I fear that it wasn’t judging by some of your comments. :wink: So let the record show that I the quintessential Golgi, do hereby admit that I goofed.

and senocular, thanks for the compliment, and you made some good points which I will comment on in the near future. (another pun intended… hehe)