Brian Cox - What Is Time?

If I were to ask you what time it is, you would probably look at your watch and tell me what the watch says because this seems like a perfectly innocent and easy question to answer. But if I were to ask you what time it really is, you'd quickly realize that the first answer is defective because it is based on a social convention most of us have adopted without question or good reason.

So what time is it really? The answer to that question will depend on our understanding of what time itself is, so what is time?

Now, regardless of what it is, if time had a beginning, then the time now would simply be a function of how much time has passed since the beginning of time. If that sounds both perfectly reasonable and oddly circular at the same time :), that means you are beginning to grasp the paradoxical nature of this famously elusive question.

If time had no beginning, however, then the question of what time is becomes meaningless, since there would be no objective standard upon which to base any answer we come up with. In that case, we would have to make up some arbitrary convention and there would be no answer to the question of what time it really is, so then it wouldn't be any particular time? Stuck again...

In today's documentary, Brian Cox will help us understand a little bit of the history of our attempts to measure and understand the nature time, as well as the amazing improvements scientists have achieved in answering the first question, and the difficulties that theorists have discovered with regard to the second.



That's right, now I have scientific validation for 'seemingly' forgetting anniversaries, birthdays and appointments: I couldn't have been late because there is no privileged point of view from which to distinguish conflicting accounts of time. You may say I'm late, but I say I'm not... All I have to do is date a hot physicist...
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