Time - an illusion

Yesterday I installed on my iPad an app that rings ship’s bells. I find it very therapeutic; the reasons are on one hand obvious to me, whilst on the other complex. First, the obvious; my secondary schooling was a naval college. On the other hand, I stopped wearing watches nearly 20 years ago when I returned from working abroad because I did not want to be slave to time, rather I wanted to tune into the natural rhythms of the day.

I don’t know how long I will keep the app, but for now it marks out the day in a different but organised way. I’m intrigued that I seem to be returning to a more systematic way of living, when what I originally envisioned was an abandonment of structure to my day (except of course of regular meal times!).

I suppose too, whilst time is circular, a repeatable facet of life on earth, it is also linear in terms of an individual’s life span, as well as the generally accepted view of a finite, but unknown duration of our and other species, planet and universe.

Another view, as @bruss suggests, time is perhaps another dimension. Carlo Rovelli in a monograph (2014, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics) suggests that the flow of time is an illusion, others suggest that the passage of time is a human construct. Whatever your view, I find marking the passage of time is therapeutic. But I wonder why?


Time isn’t linear at all. Our life is linear. Time continues to pass.
Time isn’t circular. The earths cycles are. Time continues to pass.


“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

Douglas Adams


The fundamental nature (indeed, even the existence) of time is a niche but hotly-contested topic in the philosophy of physics.

If you want to go down this particular rabbit hole, Julian Barbour’s The End of Time argues that time does not objectively exist. There are other respected physicists who have argued the exact opposite. And so the arguing will no doubt continue.

When asked, Einstein said ‘Time is what a clock measures’.



Thanks for the recommendation … I hope I get time to read it.
Then again ‘the end of time’ is a two-part Dr Who story.

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The Barbour is now over 20 years old, but still worth a read. Once he’s convinced you that time does not objectively exist, you then need to read Lee Smolin’s Time Reborn, which argues the exact opposite!

Here’s a nice and not-too-technical summary of the topic, starting with the Ancient Greeks:

Physics World – 24 Oct 13

(What is time? – Physics World)


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Time is a jet plane, 'moves too fast…

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My late father used to say a lot: " Time is the enemy".

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Great topic!

Reminded me to watch the movie Arrival tonight.

Hope this topic grows, linearly of course :wink:


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Time it flexes like a….

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We ought to play Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator) at this point


Didn’t some obscure 70s rock group do a little ditty called Time, ooh, about fifty years ago?


Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana


The problem with time is that it keeps going down the plughole. Also, tomorrow never comes, and we are all the sum of our memories, but our memories are in the past.

I wear a watch so that I always know where I am between the past and the future. If only time would stop if my watch were to stop!

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The universe is always in motion.

Change is the only constant.

Time is our quantification of change.

Time is a useful tool for getting things done.

Units of time are often based on the movement of planets (e.g. a day or a year), or the vibrating of a quartz crystal in a watch, or other regularities of motion.

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I thought the answer was 42.


Watched recently - great film.


Where can you watch Arrival?

I watched it on BBC iPlayer, but not there anymore. Looks like it’s on Netflix though.

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Though probably had considerable earlier episode arcs leading up to that!

Must confess I got totally lost with so many of the rebooted Dr Who storylines, maybe I’m too thick, but some just seemed unnecessarily convoluted. It’ll be interesting how RTD reframes the next series as CC really gave poor Jodie Whittaker some rotten scripts and plots.

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