Is Time Real or Relative – Real

Time is definitely real, only our experience of time is subjective. We can observe this by focusing on how we perceive time – distinguishing two events.

We use all our senses to distinguish events and hence experience time. When a ball falls, we see it go from high to low. High before, low afterward; two sequential visual events that help us experience time. When we hear a sound, we experience silence, sound, then silence again. This sequence of three events gives us another experience of time. A gust of wind, a sweet taste, hunger, pain – all these disappear and appear combining to give us an aggregate experience of time.

This experience is subjective to how our mind and sensory organs work – and, strangely, on how fast we are moving. If you see a sheet of blue paper followed by a sheet of yellow paper followed by blue and so on, in an ever increasing sequential rate, you will at first be able to distinguish the blue from the yellow. After some point the sequential rate becomes so fast that the sequence *appears* to be simultaneous to our eyes and mind and we see green! This is a clear example that time is real (blue follows yellow), but our perception of time is subjective (we don’t see a sequence of blue following yellow, but something else entirely.)

I have stated enough to show that time is real, but if you want to see how our motion affects our time perception, read on. I am compelled to state that it may get a bit dense, but only a little.

In relativity theory, that blue-yellow paper sequence turning green is an example of the “illusion of simultaneity” – things may appear to happen at the same time but really it depends on a particular factor. That factor is how fast you happen to be moving with respect to an object, in this case our paper sequence. If you happen to be traveling near the speed of light away from the paper sequence, then light takes longer to get to you and you will be able to distinguish (I am assuming you have properly accounted for red-shifting of the light reaching you) the blue and yellow at rates that would have looked green if you were at rest. Similarly if you were traveling near light speeds towards the sequence you would see green at sequential rates that would have looked blue and yellow when you were at rest. This is exactly what astronomers use to identify the frequency of light, i.e. the color, of distant stars. It is also another example of how time, a sequential set of events, is real, but our perception of time is subjective to our speed relative to what we are perceiving.

Is there a way to have no time at all? Sure. Imagine a universe where no events happens. Nothing happens ever! How will you be able to tell past from future? There are no events to compare – no turning your head so your visual field changes, no heartbeat to keep count. Not a single moving molecule anywhere in the universe. This is called the absolute zero state of the universe and physicists have proved that it can never be achieved – because there would be no way to get the universe started again. (Universe is defined here as a collection of every existing object or entity known or unknown.)

In reading this article I hope that you perceived time pass quickly, meaning you were able to read and understand my article easily. If time seemed to pass slowly, I can only offer that at one point you were at the top of this article and now you are at the bottom, and hopefully it was real time well spent.