To continue the discussion, time is not equal to time, depending on which theory of physics you are contemplating.

Relativity vs. Quantum Theory

One of the greatest problems in modern theoretical physics lies in the reconciliation of relativity and quantum theories.

Both the Special and the General Theories of Relativity are classed as deterministic theories. In such theories, cause and effect lie in direct relationship to each other, the one follows on automatically from the other. If every particle position and direction of movement is known precisely, every future position and direction of movement can be calculated to any desired degree of accuracy. There are no surprises, and nothing is random. The future can be extrapolated to any degree of time and volume desired, and everything will be known, if our calculating power is sufficient. All particles are considered to be tiny balls bouncing off each other.

The various Quantum Theories (including Quantum Electro-/Chromodynamics, String Theory, M-Theory, etc.), on the other hand, are statistical. We can only state the possibility of a particular particle being in a particular place and moving in a particular direction as a probability. On the quantum level, the one that concerns itself with atoms, neutrons, electrons, protons, and the particles that make them up, nothing can ever be definitely known. The more we know about the position of a particle, the less we know about where it’s headed, and vice versa. This uncertainty, inherent in the nature of the universe itself, is not a reflection of how accurate our instruments are; we are intrinsically unable to get greater accuracy. Particles aren’t particles, and waves aren’t waves, but everything is both, and fuzzy into the bargain.

Worse, time in Relativity Theory is a continuous dimension stretching unbroken into both the past and the future. On the other hand, Quantum Theory regards time as consisting of discrete units, unimaginably small, but distinct. We can’t know what will happen in the future, because it is all controlled by chance. Mathematically, the two views of time are treated completely differently, too.

Biological Time vs. “Objective” Time

I use the term “objective” because, as we have seen, there is no objective, absolute time.

Have you ever noticed that time seems to pass more quickly these days than when you were young? When I was a child, a summer’s day was long, and the summer holidays seemed to last forever. Nowadays, I have the feeling that if I blink rapidly four or five times, I’ll lose an hour of my life.

Why is this?

The cause lies in our physiology and metabolism. The only way we can only “know” how time passes is by checking our internal processes. We all have a feeling for time depending on what we feel is the passing of time, and that depends on how quickly our bodies are working inside.

The problem is, as we grow older, our metabolic processes begin to slow down. As they slow down, our thought processes begin to slow down with them. Compared to our internal time, external time then appears to be getting faster. It’s almost like the relativistic slowdown caused by travelling at extremely high velocities…

Next time, I’ll be discussing scientific theories of time and free will. I hope you choose to join me.

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