The Instigator
abard124
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
JBeukema
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points

Time is but a measurement

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/7/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,602 times Debate No: 7730
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (38)
Votes (7)

 

abard124

Con

There really should be a philosophy category, but there isn't and so science fits this best.
Many people say that time is just a measurement.
In other words, time is simply minutes, seconds, hours, years, etc.
This is not true.
In order to prove my point, I will take examples of confirmed measurements and confirmed non-measurements, and compare them to time.
I don't want to go too far into it before it is even confirmed, so I await a response, and I will address that, and get into the actual debate!
JBeukema

Pro

Blast it! Wrong window >.<
Debate Round No. 1
abard124

Con

I must say, I completely disagree with your contention this round :-)
No, I'm not that cruel. I'll take what you wrote in the comments as your argument.

So, if time is a measurement and not a true dimension, as you stated, then what does time measure?
Inches measure distance.
Pounds measure weight.
Minutes, not time, measures time.

Likewise, you can measure time, but you can't measure inches. You can measure length, but not inches.

Lastly, I would like to point out that, if time is but a measurement, people would have had to have invented time, and therefore there was no time before that. That is highly illogical, as the the universe could care less about the minutes, seconds, etc. Just as the universe could care less about inches and feet, but length is there. Time was there, the measurements of time weren't.

I am looking forward to your first real argument, and happy debating!
JBeukema

Pro

'So, if time is a measurement and not a true dimension, as you stated, then what does time measure? '

Changes in matter. Minutes measures time, which in provides a standard unit by which we can determine the relationship between one series of events and another. We measure a second as equal to 'the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom. '

therefore if we say something took two seconds, we are saying that the event coincides with 18 385 263 540 such cycles. 'Time' serves as a convenient theoretical dimension by which we can measure changes in matter or relationships in a matter easily grasped by common experience. If time is a dimension, then how do you explain relativity?

If I were to move towards you at the speed of light, you would see me approaching at the speed of light. If I then turn on a light and point it at you, I would see it moving away from me at the speed of light. You, however, would see it approaching at the speed of light. To you, we would arrive at the same time. To me, it would arrive far before I did.

Now, if time is a true dimension, then something can only move through it at a single rate at a time- we should have the same measurements. No such thing is known to exist in the 3 physical dimensions, and I am aware of no parallels. Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion is that time is not dimension as we understand the word, but a subjective measurement of perceived change in the physical universe

'Likewise, you can measure time, but you can't measure inches.'

Clarify. I can measure inches using another standard, via conversion. Also, a measurement of a dimension must be objective, as the dimension or the object's span in said dimension must be definite. Measurements of time fail to meet this requirement. Time is subjective

'Lastly, I would like to point out that, if time is but a measurement, people would have had to have invented time, and therefore there was no time before that. '

You confuse 'time' as used as a measurement and 'time' used colloquially to refer to changes in the relationship between different parts of the physical universe. 'Feet' did not exist before we made it up, but physical size and dimensions certainly did. Changes in the physical state of the universe occurred 'before' we began to measure them.

Prior to the Big Bang, no such changes would have occurred. This is why there can be no time 'prior to' the big bang, as without space and matter, no measurable changes occur that can be used to define 'time' or a period thereof

Time= a description of changes in the physical universe. Like all descriptions, it is a creation of man, formed in our attempt to understand the universe and useful towards such ends
Debate Round No. 2
abard124

Con

"Changes in matter. Minutes measures time, which in provides a standard unit by which we can determine the relationship between one series of events and another."
I think of time as a corollary dimension, or even another name for the changes in the relationship between one series of events and another. But your idea that you can measure a measurement doesn't make sense. As I said earlier, you can't measure inches. It's the same thing with minutes. But you can measure time. You can't measure a measurement. Try to think of one example of a measurement that you can measure, and you will draw a blank.

"If time is a dimension, then how do you explain relativity?"
I was a bit afraid this would come up...
Here's where I tell you that I'm no expert on relativity. From what I do understand, though, it does make sense that it could still be a dimension. Now, my friend Wikipedia has graciously supplied an image depicting how time could be a dimension <http://upload.wikimedia.org...;. Now, as I said, I don't know much about relativity, so I can't really conclusively prove that you are wrong, except with that visual.

"Now, if time is a true dimension, then something can only move through it at a single rate at a time- we should have the same measurements."
Please explain. I'm not much of a physics guy. I prefer Chem.

"Clarify. I can measure inches using another standard, via conversion."
You can't measure inches even with conversion. you can say that a foot is 12 inches, but you aren't measuring the foot, you are measuring the distance. But you can't measure a measurement

"You confuse 'time' as used as a measurement and 'time' used colloquially to refer to changes in the relationship between different parts of the physical universe. 'Feet' did not exist before we made it up, but physical size and dimensions certainly did. Changes in the physical state of the universe occurred 'before' we began to measure them."
Thank you for supporting my point. See above for my argument.

"Prior to the Big Bang, no such changes would have occurred. This is why there can be no time 'prior to' the big bang, as without space and matter, no measurable changes occur that can be used to define 'time' or a period thereof"
So, if you could go back in time there, you couldn't say one-mississippi, 2-mississippi... And then come back and say you were there for about 15 minutes.

Looking forward to your response, and I hopefully won't take as long next time to respond :-)
JBeukema

Pro

I am no physicist either, so I believe we approach this from different angles, but with comparable degrees of a layman's understanding. Indeed, I would not be surprised is there were someone in the audience bemused by both of our attempts to make since of this matter.

Con:: ‘you can measure time. You can't measure a measurement.'
Is a minute a measurement of time or a description of time? A second is equal to a given number of radioactive cycles of cesium-133. When we look at it this way, we see that a second (and all other ‘measurements' of time we are familiar with) really are equal to a given amount of change in the system. To say something occurred in a given amount of time is, in this regard, to say that it occurred along with a standard amount of predictable change in the system. When viewed in this way, time ceases to be seen as a dimension- we have not ‘measured time', we have merely described a given amount of change in the observable universe. While the common understanding of time remains useful, it cannot be shown to be more valid than the concept of time as a measurement of change. I strongly suspect this would become even more apparent when dealing w/ particle physics, where the concept of causation and temporal relation breaks down

Con:: "Now, if time is a true dimension, then something can only move through it at a single rate at a time- we should have the same measurements."
Please explain. I'm not much of a physics guy. I prefer Chem.

Think about it this way. Take the three familiar dimensions. Let us say that there exists a cabinet or any other mass within these dimensions. The extent to which this mass extends into each dimension of height, width, and depth is finite and constant- even if we view it form different angles, the dimensions themselves are the same. Now, let us each measure the cabinet. Even if we use different units of measure, our measurements would be equivalent.

However, taking the classic example from Einstein:
-You remain stationary
-I travel towards you at the speed of light
-I shine a light towards you as I do so

Relativity predicts and tests confirm that while I see the second light travel away from me at the speed of light and reach you before I do, you see me and the light I shine towards you approach at the same speed and arrive at the same time. Now, if we measure the distances traveled, we will arrive at the same number. However, different amounts of ‘time' (no matter how measured) must pass for me, you, and the beam of light in order to explain the results. I ask you this, then: if time as we know and experience it is a distinct dimension and not merely a subjective measurement of perceived change in the physical state of the universe, how can we possibly measure it differently in this example? It defies the qualities of the known dimensions and the relationship of matter (and energy) to those dimensions- that is, how matter may travel through those dimensions. It simply fails to meet the definition of a true and definite dimension.

(You img link is broken, btw)

Con quoted my earlier comment that : 'Feet' did not exist before we made it up, but physical size and dimensions certainly did. Changes in the physical state of the universe occurred 'before' we began to measure them.

My point here was that matter extended into the three physical dimensions before we began to define or describe them. Similarly, changes in matter took place ‘before' we began to seek to explain and understand it. This has no bearing on the nature of time or the physical dimensions- your earlier reasoning was flawed in this regard, for you seem to assume that man's understanding or experience has the slightest bearing on truth.

Con:: So, if you could go back in time there, you couldn't say one-mississippi, 2-mississippi... And then come back and say you were there for about 15 minutes.
If you were to return to a state devoid of matter, then you could not even count- for you could not be. You presence would mean that matter and space existed and changes would be taking place. That change could then be defined and measured as a concept of ‘time.' The test you propose would be impossible by definition
Debate Round No. 3
abard124

Con

"I am no physicist either, so I believe we approach this from different angles, but with comparable degrees of a layman's understanding. Indeed, I would not be surprised is there were someone in the audience bemused by both of our attempts to make since [sic] of this matter."
I assure you, you are more knowledgeable in physics than I... I took high school physics, and I did't retain much...

"Is a minute a measurement of time or a description of time? A second is equal to a given number of radioactive cycles of cesium-133."
It is how we know it, but if cesium-133 slowed down somehow (this is completely hypothetical; I know that that's impossible), a second would still be one-Mississippi. Just as if you stretch a rubber band. It gets longer. It becomes more inches, even though it is the same thing. If you could slow down time, it would seem longer, and it would be more seconds, even though cesium-133 cycled just the same amount of time. And I think it is a lost cause to try to argue that a minute is not a measurement. You do make a valid point, but frankly, you could make just the same argument for an inch, or a pound.

"Relativity predicts and tests confirm that while I see the second light travel away from me at the speed of light and reach you before I do, you see me and the light I shine towards you approach at the same speed and arrive at the same time."
Once again, I know very little about relativity, and I would like to see what tests confirm that, and how they did it, because it seems like it would be very hard to do that in a lab.

"However, different amounts of ‘time' (no matter how measured) must pass for me, you, and the beam of light in order to explain the results."
I might not be great at physics, but I am good at math. Or at least good enough. Wikipedia states that the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second. If the light in your test goes 500,000,000 meters, you can just do simple division to find that both you and the light took 1.6678204759907602478778835723746 seconds.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

I hope that one works...

"Similarly, changes in matter took place ‘before' we began to seek to explain and understand it."
I still stand my argument that you are supporting my point by that quote. Time was there before we named it.

"If you were to return to a state devoid of matter, then you could not even count- for you could not be."
That was purely hypothetical. I know it could never happen. Time travel is also impossible.

I think the central point of this argument comes down to whether changes in matter dictate time, or whether time dictates changes in matter. Because there are so many things that change the way that they do, it only makes sense that time has always been there to tell it when to, so to speak, just as distance and weight have always been there. Inches have not always been there. Seconds have not always been there. Time has.

I would like to thank my opponent for a most excellent debate. This has definitely been one of the more intellectual debates I've had on here. But, I don't think that any of the big words or fancy physics are really necessary for me to prove my point. Then again, it did make for a very interesting debate!

I'm looking forward to your conclusion, and I'm looking forward to see how the voting turns out!
JBeukema

Pro

Con:: 'It is how we know it, but if cesium-133 slowed down somehow (this is completely hypothetical; I know that that's impossible), a second would still be one-Mississippi'

'One-Mississippi' is not equal to a second. Even if the rate of decay for the given sample of Cesium-137 (or equivalent) were to change, we would not know it. By definition, a second would remain 'the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom.' (Quoted exactly, as I doubt I could paraphrase it accurately). If we were to observe that the given periods were not equal X (where X is an equivalent description or unit), we would not be able to discern whether the radiation of the sample of Cesium or X had changed pace. Indeed, to say that either one had 'changed' would be equivalent, as they both would change relative to one another 'One-Mississippi' is merely a useful 'rule of thumb' we use to round time, such s in children's games. The error you make is treating a subjective rule of thumb (we do not speak at the same rates) with a distinct measurement or unit.

Con:: 'Once again, I know very little about relativity, and I would like to see what tests confirm that, and how they did it, because it seems like it would be very hard to do that in a lab.'

http://www.exphy.uni-duesseldorf.de...
http://arxiv.org...
http://math.ucr.edu...
http://www.google.com...

If you possess the education necessary to understand the science and equations involved, that makes one of us. I'll leave you with these links and no explanation of the tests, simply because I do not possess the knowledge necessary to explain them. Suffice to say that GPS and satellite communication use relativity to function. The clocks on satellites run more slowly (time 'passes' at a slower rate, relative to the surface of Earth at the speeds satellites travel). It is only our understanding of relativity that allows us to keep the necessary timepieces 'in sync' on earth and in our satellites. Again, you will have to look elsewhere for a more in-depth explanation; I know the fundamentals on a theoretical level and have yet to learn the mathematics involved. Someone viewing this discussion may have more information regarding the details. If time is thought of as a dimension, how can the 'distance' or amount to which an object 'travels through' that dimension be subjective?

Con:: I might not be great at physics, but I am good at math. Or at least good enough. Wikipedia states that the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second. If the light in your test goes 500,000,000 meters, you can just do simple division to find that both you and the light took 1.6678204759907602478778835723746 seconds.

Only from your perspective. From my perspective, the beam of light travels away from me at the speed of light, as I approach you at the speed of light. Think of it this way: If I drive towards you at 10 miles per hour and then throw a ball at you, from the car, at 20 MPH relative to me, how fast doe the ball approach you, relative to you? 30MPH, of course. However, while I move at 'c' (the speed of light in a vacuum) and the light moves away from me at 'c' relative to me... the bream does not approach you, from your perspective at 2*c- it approaches you AT 'c'! I see the beam of light reach you before I do, while you see me AND the beam of light arrive >at the same time<. Now, since the distance the beam travels is the same from both of our perspectives, yet the speed is different (and time of arrival) this means that time is relative. (Being good at math, you surely understand the speed/time/distance relationship, yes?) Again, how can a thing pass through a given dimension to different degrees depending on perspective? While there may be dimension through which we travel, 'time' as we understand it is not the dimension, but a subjective measurement of either change in the physical state of universe or (it can also be thought of) of the as-yet unnamed 'dimension' it could be imagined to travel through. (Of course, said 'dimension' still leaves us w/ the same problem- how it is that a thing can travel through it at different rates, subjective to the observer- so we merely push the problem back and do not resolve it. While it shows the concept of 'time' as we know it to be a measurement of change, and not a dimension, we are still left with a new dimension, in theory, that we are yet unable to explain or understand at this time)

Con:: 'Time was there before we named it.'

There were differences between orange and blue before we named them, as well. Similarly, there were decay and growth. Still, these terms are merely descriptions of differences and changes in the state of the physical universe, respectively. Thus, it is seen that 'time' and 'growth' are the same- measurements of change.

Con:: I think the central point of this argument comes down to whether changes in matter dictate time, or whether time dictates changes in matter

Neither dictates the other. One ('time') simply measures changes in the other to provide a reference for comparison.

Con:: Because there are so many things that change the way that they do, it only makes sense that time has always been there to tell it when to, so to speak, just as distance and weight have always been there. Inches have not always been there. Seconds have not always been there. Time has.

'Time' does not dictate change any more than 'width' dictates the state of matter or the realms or dimensions into which it extends. Both merely describe the material universe. 'Width' is merely a description of a dimension- it does not determine itself.

Again, the difference is that 'width', 'height', and 'depth' are all objective, as we understand dimensions to be. 'Time' is subjective. Only descriptions and measurements can be subjective, for a true dimension- and the extent to or manner in which mater travels through it- must be objective by nature.

Con:: But, I don't think that any of the big words or fancy physics are really necessary for me to prove my point.

Unfortunately, the nature of the subject makes words, sciences, and mathematics to discuss in any meaningful way. Without such things, one cannot address the question you have raised. Even to examine the question on a philosophical level, one must have at least some understanding of what science has revealed regarding our understanding and concept of 'time'. On cannot discuss 'time' without referring to relativity any more than one can address art without reference to shape or the physical dimensions.
Debate Round No. 4
38 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by fisher 8 years ago
fisher
I can't even argue about a dimension not being a measurement. All it is is a measurement. In mathematics all you do is pick one point and add another and another and another to create more dimensions. Right? I'm not a mathematician, Nor claim to be right. That's how I have always understood it tho. Please correct me if I am wrong, I came on this site because its interesting, and to learn not to debate. All definitions I find back me up. Or I am understanding it wrong I guess.
Posted by fisher 8 years ago
fisher
"According to Einstein, time is a dimension." You said it yourself. Time is not a constant, it can be measured. Thus its measurable, Thus its a measurement.
Posted by abard124 8 years ago
abard124
Eh...
the comment section lost me a long time ago...
It seems that they all know more about physics than I do...
Oh well...
Posted by JBeukema 8 years ago
JBeukema
So much for not being ale to measure a measurement, eh, abard? :D
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Dimensions are orthogonal properties of physical existence. String theory postulates about 11 dimensions, last I heard. We can only experience four directly: L, W, H and time. The other dimensions, if they exist, can only be known by what they imply in terms of observable events.

The dimensions of an on object are L, W, H. Those are measurements of three orthogonal properties. That's a different meaning than reference to the orthogonal properties themselves. The higher dimensions postulated by String Theory are described by weird analogies to our physical world, like a dimension corresponding to a small coil wound around a thread. I don't understand it, I'm just repeating what's said.
Posted by JBeukema 8 years ago
JBeukema
length, width, and thickness are dimensions
Posted by fisher 8 years ago
fisher
they're both measurements. one measures length, width and thickness, the other measures space, time, and matter.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
fisher, That's two different meanings of the word "dimension."
Posted by fisher 8 years ago
fisher
dimensions are a measurement. your arguing if time is a measurement or a dimension but a dimension is a measurement. makes no sense.
Posted by abard124 8 years ago
abard124
Ooh...
I love ties...
means we both argued really well...
or perhaps really badly...
but we didn't argue badly, I know that...
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