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Thread: Does the present actually exist?

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by splansing View Post
    Universal constants may prove to be as fleeting as our belief that the earth was flat. Every time we think we know what's going on, we learn that we really had no idea.
    Perhaps.

    The thing is, the premise of any branch of natural science is that an external, objective existence exists and time, like it or not, is a fundamental quantity in physics. It (along with mass and spatial displacement) defines every physical law we know.

    But then again, no one is saying everything that exists is reducible to physical quantities.

  2. #52
    Master political analyst Dittohead not!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingrat View Post
    Correct. It is constant regardless of the units you'd care to measure the distance or the time -- which shows it is not a mere mental construct but a property of some external, objective reality.
    but only if the passage of time is an external, objective reality.

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post
    but only if the passage of time is an external, objective reality.
    And you think it isn't? The decay of radioactive materials occur precisely. Does that not indicate to you that time is an external, objective reality?

    Of course relativity predicts effects like time dilation and length contraction but when time and space are taken as a single quantity called space-time, it can be discerned as objective reality.

  4. #54
    Master political analyst Dittohead not!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingrat View Post
    And you think it isn't? The decay of radioactive materials occur precisely. Does that not indicate to you that time is an external, objective reality?

    Of course relativity predicts effects like time dilation and length contraction but when time and space are taken as a single quantity called space-time, it can be discerned as objective reality.
    I don't know, maybe it is, and maybe not. We perceive time as passing uniformly, but that may just be our perception. If time is passing uniformly, then it follows that the decay or radioactive material is occurring uniformly as well.

    Time may be more like a video saved on a hard drive. As long as the video is being played, it passes at a uniform rate, but the entire video is there all the time. Moreover, it can be replayed, rewound, fast forwarded, or stopped altogether. If it stops, then the decay of radioactive material also stops, along with all parts of the video being played.

    Moreover, it's possible to edit the video, then save it under a different name. When you do that, you create two alternate realities, one that is edited and one that is not. Time could consist of hundreds, thousands, or an infinite number of alternate realities.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post
    I don't know, maybe it is, and maybe not. We perceive time as passing uniformly, but that may just be our perception. If time is passing uniformly, then it follows that the decay or radioactive material is occurring uniformly as well.

    Time may be more like a video saved on a hard drive. As long as the video is being played, it passes at a uniform rate, but the entire video is there all the time. Moreover, it can be replayed, rewound, fast forwarded, or stopped altogether. If it stops, then the decay of radioactive material also stops, along with all parts of the video being played.

    Moreover, it's possible to edit the video, then save it under a different name. When you do that, you create two alternate realities, one that is edited and one that is not. Time could consist of hundreds, thousands, or an infinite number of alternate realities.
    Actually, time doesn't move uniformly. It goes fast or slow depending on the observer's reference frame. A radioactive particle travelling near the speed of light may decay more slowly than the same radioactive particle at rest.

    But I see your point. General and special relativity do allow for an interval of time to be dilated to infinity (which is like saying time stops moving forward) or an infinite interval of time compressed in an instant (which is like saying time moving at an infinite pace). However, these scenarios refer to the breakdown of physical laws including causality -- so nobody can really say anything rational about them.

    The point is, these things occur independent of our perception of them, hence constitute as an external objective reality.

  6. #56
    Master political analyst Dittohead not!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingrat View Post
    Actually, time doesn't move uniformly. It goes fast or slow depending on the observer's reference frame. A radioactive particle travelling near the speed of light may decay more slowly than the same radioactive particle at rest.

    But I see your point. General and special relativity do allow for an interval of time to be dilated to infinity (which is like saying time stops moving forward) or an infinite interval of time compressed in an instant (which is like saying time moving at an infinite pace). However, these scenarios refer to the breakdown of physical laws including causality -- so nobody can really say anything rational about them.

    The point is, these things occur independent of our perception of them, hence constitute as an external objective reality.
    Perhaps, and perhaps not. Our perception of time changes dramatically as well, depending on what is happening. Ten minutes having dinner with friends passes much more quickly than ten minutes while a dentist is drilling.

    But, the original premise was that, if the present had no dimension in time, it may not exist at all except perhaps as a concept within our own minds or as a mathematical construct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post
    But, the original premise was that, if the present had no dimension in time, it may not exist at all except perhaps as a concept within our own minds or as a mathematical construct.
    I don't think I'd go as far as that.

    The original question was whether one can logically define the present as a discrete instant. If one were to designate a specific time in the past as t0, then the present, tx is defined as that time x seconds away from t0. The significance of the present tx is central to our notion of causation --- that a cause precedes an effect. We therefore think of an instant as a discrete, dimensionless point on a time line (a time interval equal to zero) for this reason.

    It is true, however that a dimensionless point representing time is meaningless (as demonstrated by the thought experiment schrodinger's cat). As I have already stated, the smallest interval of time that has any physical meaning is the planck time, approximately 5.39X10^-44 second.

  8. #58
    Junior Member zaangalewa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacobfitcher View Post
    The present is in the past
    ... where our senses calculated the future so we are able to play ping pong.

    Last edited by zaangalewa; 4th March 2017 at 10:10 PM.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedCloud View Post
    The present is in the future.


    Last edited by zaangalewa; 4th March 2017 at 10:32 PM.

  10. #60
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    The future may come into existence, and the past might have existed; but the present undubitably exists. Just try having an orgasm to experience "le prÚsent de la jouissance."

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