If you run out of time or can’t find the time or need more time … stop worrying:

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by Neil Godfrey

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Time might not exist, according to physicists and philosophers – but that’s okay ….. (the link is to article in The Conversation by Sam Baron)

….. developments in physics suggest the non-existence of time is an open possibility, and one that we should take seriously.

How can that be, and what would it mean? It’ll take a little while to explain, but don’t worry: even if time doesn’t exist, our lives will go on as usual.

and it gets somewhat philosophical….

…. we know we need a new physical theory to explain the universe, and that this theory might not feature time.

Suppose such a theory turns out to be correct. Would it follow that time does not exist?

It’s complicated, and it depends what we mean by exist.

and then….

There is a way out of the mess.

While physics might eliminate time, it seems to leave causation intact: the sense in which one thing can bring about another.

Perhaps what physics is telling us, then, is that causation and not time is the basic feature of our universe.

So Jesus has already come and if someone says I’m late I can reply on the grounds of a good physics hypothesis that I am not and if someone wants to book me for parking over-time I will tell the judge….




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Neil Godfrey

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10 thoughts on “If you run out of time or can’t find the time or need more time … stop worrying:”

  1. But this is an old idea, isn’t it? At least as far back as Einstein, time started to be relegated to the status of just another dimension. Following that notion to its logical conclusion, you end up with our experience of time being due to our own physical limitations, rather than any intrinsic properties of time itself.

      1. I did, it’s too vague get much from it. Didn’t really advance the discussion much beyond Einstein’s “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

        1. I got a lot more than that out of it. It’s getting down to the very nature of what makes everything — why we even mass at all, for example, the things that we are only now learning from years of experiments with hadron colliders and things. I thought we knew the basics of the universe years back but now we seem to be on the midst of a whole new ignorance and discoveries. Exciting times.

          1. I’m not a physicist, but from what I’ve read Physics is actually in the doldrums now. They’ve been chasing quantum gravity for almost a century. The colliders are confirming theories, but not leading to new ones.

              1. But…. maybe I don’t have time to read the article!

                More reasonably, I have a little trouble with the article myself. I do not appreciate the click bait lede ‘time might not exist’. Of course time as we experience it exists. It’s existence is not in question. The question seems to be that time is an emergent property rather than fundamental or causative property.

                Explaining emergent properties is a whole ‘nother ball game.

  2. Interesting BS. Velocity is distance over time. Acceleration is velocity over time. Force is mass times acceleration (which is again, velocity over time). Your string theory has the strings vibrating, which requires cycles over time. Your light speed is wavelength times frequency (which is cycles per time). Your light energy is proportional to its frequency (cycles per time).

    So, if time doesn’t exist, velocity, acceleration, force, strings, light, and thus energy, doesn’t exist. Nonsense!

    I believe philosophers might think that, because they believe an extraordinary number of BS things. But I don’t believe any physicists believe that.

    1. “Out of Time

      A Philosophical Study of Timelessness”

      Sorry for my rather harsh comment. I initially assumed that it was a book written with some real physics involved. I missed the fine print, and all the authors are philosophers, of one sort or another. So I take it with a grain of salt.

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