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For alternate uses of "time", see Time (disambiguation).

Time refers to the conceptual dimension (or medium) wherin change occurs, either as an empirical observation, or as conceptualized through abstracted analysis; described in physics as the aspect of relative directionality within a space-time continuum.

The common way of defining the idea of 'before' and 'after' is based on the assumption of causality. One can typically say that a partcular event "occurs" after another event, and one can apply the extra-contextual relative metric of "time" to guage the interval between the two. The term "time", however, describes both the measurable interval between two (perceived or conceived) events, and implies the truth of a continuous measurable system as the purposeful metric for conceptualizing relationships between the forementioned two events and all other events within the same universe.

The development of human understanding of the nature and measurement of time, through the work of making and improving its measurements, (calendars, clocks) and its intuitive concepts (spacetime, General relativity), has been a major engine of scientific discovery since the its beginning.

Table of contents
1 Measurement of time
2 Time in engineering and applied physics
3 Time in philosophy and theoretical physics
4 Perception of time
5 Use of time
6 See also
7 External links
8 Books

Measurement of time

The standard unit for time is the SI second, from which larger units are defined like the minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade, and century. Thus, up to the year the system does not use a decimal system. Also there are no fixed ratios between second, minute, hour, day and week on one hand and month and year on the other hand. The minute, hour and day are officially "non-SI units accepted for use with the International System". (The International System of Units)

Time can be measured, just like other physical dimensions. Measuring devices for time are clocks. Very accurate clocks are often called chronometers. The best available clocks are atomic clocks.

There are several continuous time scales in current use: Universal Time, International Atomic Time (TAI), which is the basis for other time scales, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is the basis for civil time, Terrestrial Time (TT), etc. Humankind has invented calendars to track the passages of days, weeks, months, and years.

Traditionally, aboard ship a system of hourglasses and ship's bells are used to mark time.

Time in engineering and applied physics

In physics, time is defined as the distance between events along the fourth axis of the spacetime manifold. Special relativity showed that time cannot be understood except as part of spacetime, a combination of space and time. The distance between events now depends on the relative speed of the observers of the events. General relativity further changed the notion of time by introducing the idea of curved spacetime. An important unit of time in theoretical physics is the Planck time – see Planck units for more details.

See also: Synchronization, ISO 8601, Allan variance

Time in philosophy and theoretical physics

, a cube in 3 dimensions extended to a fourth, as a description of time; adhering to defined finite bounds, all possibilities for this configuration are conceptually representable.]] See also time in physics

Important questions in the philosophy of time include: Is time absolute or merely relational? Is time without change conceptually impossible or is there more to the idea? Does time "pass" or are the ideas of past, present and future entirely subjective, descriptions only of our deception by the senses?

Zeno's paradoxes fundamentally challenged the ancient conception of time, and thereby helped motivate the development of calculus. A point of contention between Newton and Leibniz concerned the question of absolute time: the former believed time was, like space, a container for events, while the latter believed time was, like space, a conceptual apparatus describing the interrelations between events. McTaggart believed, rather eccentrically and on the basis of a very shaky argument, that time and change are illusions. Parmenides (of whom Zeno was a follower) held a similar belief based on a similarly shaky, but rather more interesting argument.

Einstein's theory of relativity linked time and space into spacetime in a way that also had philosophical consequences, making the idea of block time more credible, and thus affecting ideas of free will and causality.

Perception of time

One may perceive time to go fast ("time flies"), meaning that a duration seems less than it is; this may be considered an advantage:

However, it may be considered a disadvantage: (on the other hand, that the time has flown is considered a sign that it has been enjoyable) Time also seems to go fast when sleeping, some of the above applies, e.g. it may be an advantage to sleep as train or car passenger, and sleep long in the case of boredom, while it may be wasteful to sleep long on holidays.

Time seems to go faster for a person as they get older. In childhood a day is a long time, in adulthood, it seems to pass much quicker. There is a continuing debate about why this might seem to be. One theory is that each time element (e.g. a day) is an increasingly smaller percentage of the person's total experience of time.

Use of time

The use of time is an important issue in understanding human behavior, education, and travel behavior. The question concerns how time is allocated across a number of activities (such as time spent at home, at work, shopping, etc.). Time use changes with technology, as the television or the internet created new opportunities to use time in different ways. However, some aspects of time use are relatively stable over long periods of time, such as the amount of time spent traveling to work, which despite major changes in transport, has been observed to be about 20-30 minutes one-way for a large number of cities over a long period of time. This has led to the dispute time budget hypothesis.

Arlie Russell Hochschild and Norbert Elias have written on the subject from a sociological perspective.

See also

External links



"Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so." - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
- Riddle by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (The answer is time.)

"Time is money." - Benjamin Franklin