∆ Energy not Time.

Wherever energy is free to flow it has a direction. Could we be mistaking this direction for the arrow of time? 

We also say energy can have an effect 'over time'.  Suspiciously Time alone doesn't seem to have any effect at all. But as soon as energy is present things start to change. 

So what does time do again ? 

Energy and motion and unproductive Time. Boiling water.

To see what I mean when I say it might be that Time has no effect at all consider as a thought experiment a simple process like the boiling of some water, imagine a pan of water resting on an ordinary gas hob in an isolated kitchen.

If you leave the water in the pan on the cooker unlit and with the room cool enough that the water doesn’t evaporate due to ambient conditions, then the pan will basically just stay full of water[1].

You could leave it there totally defenseless and fully under the influence of the unstoppable and infinite, all permeating fundamental ‘force’ or process of Time. And leave it there to take everything that time alone could throw at it for days or decades, minutes or millennium marked out, counted and logged by the constant ticking of the kitchen wall clock, with absolutely nothing significantly changing at all[2]. By significantly changing I mean that although all the atoms in the cooker, the pot, and the water would all be jiggling around with the same average energy the cooker, the pot and in particular the water would not fundamentally change, that is the water would not evaporate and seem to disappear.

You may think, but wait a moment, if we ever actually tried this experiment then of course something would happen to upset the scene, and it is hard to imagine that the water would never evaporate eventually, and this is true but only because nowhere in the universe is actually completely isolated. So some ‘extra’ energy, heat, light, motion and so on would always infiltrate and upset the situation.

Indeed we should also consider , where we live here on earth we are just down the road from a massive nuclear furnace called the sun. So, even in the north pole it is extremely hot compared to the average 'temperature' in any are of deep space. Bur because we always are living here we don't often consider this, complaining that it's 'cold' when its really just 200 degrees hot (...kelvin).

But here we are imagining how it would be if we really could isolate the experiment, imagining what might happen if Time were allowed to operate completely alone, without energy confusing the issue, and in this thought experiment at first glance there seems to be no reason to imagine that time on its own, without energy, would do anything at all.

If you can’t stand the cold…

If we get bored of watching our pot of water sitting unchanging endlessly with nothing exciting happening we can turn on and ignite the energy rich gas, which was sitting inactive in a cylinder the whole Time. Let’s say we notice there is a wall clock in the kitchen and just as its hands indicate ‘one o’clock’ we light the gas.

And right there and then, very suspiciously! At precisely the very ‘moment’ that we let some energy flow to the pan, after eons of nothing suddenly things start to change.

What’s more if we leave the gas on a certain low and steady setting, we find the water heats up and starts to evaporate at a certain low and steady rate, and if we double the flow rate of the gas we will find the water evaporates at a correspondingly higher rate[3]. This is no big revelation, the hotter the water gets the faster it can evaporate.

Where is the moment?

Now, If you add some dye to the pan, slightly heavier than the water, and allowed to sink to the bottom of the pan before heat is applied you will find that not only does the water start the process of evaporating the moment the heat was applied, and in proportion to the amount of heat applied, but that the actual movement and change of the water starts taking place at the precise physical location where the heat is applied[4].

 So if the pan was offset to the right of the hob then as the burning gas started heating the left side of the pan, inside the pan, just by that spot you would start to see wisps of dye rising in the water showing change started to happen not just ‘when’ the heat was turned on but specifically at the precise location ‘where’ the heat was applied.

So we can say that while the idea that the pan started getting hot ‘at a particular time’ may or may not make sense, the idea that the pan got hot at a particular place is clearly true.

I'm being pedantic here[5] but let's go over the facts again.

Reviewing the facts.

With the water sitting in the pan and with the wall clock apparently showing time relentlessly ticking by at the unstoppable rate of one minute per minute, given all the Time in the world but nothing else, the isolated pan of water does absolutely nothing at all, and remains essentially unchanged for days, decades or however long it is given.

At precisely the same moment and precisely the same physical location that existing, stored, energy is allowed to flow and applied to the pan, things start to change then and there, as Time apparently unaffected continues to tick by at its usual rate (lighting a cooker is not generally declared to be a way of significantly affecting the flow of Time).

At a low gas setting the water starts evaporating at a certain rate, and at double the gas setting, the water evaporates at double the rate, and at triple the gas setting the evaporation rate triples[6], even though the kitchen wall clock doesn’t show that Time itself seems to increase or decrease in speed as we turn the gas knob, so Time is still apparently passing at the same rate whatever the gas setting[7].

What’s more, we would find that if the gas ran out or if we suddenly turned it off while there was still water in the pan, the process of evaporation would continue while there was an imbalance of energy between the hot water and the cooler surrounding air, but would slow down and stop, precisely at the moment, or ‘place’ where the energy in the water and the air matched and settled to an equilibrium, and all of this would happen as Time still carried on at its own pace.

  • So with a constant supply of Time, but no energy there is no change.
  • With a constant supply of Time and some energy there is some change.
  • With constant Time and double the amount of energy there is double the rate of change, triple the energy leading to triple the rate of change and so on.
  • And with constant Time but the energy removed the evaporation settles back to completely zero! 
  • The point being that all of this indicates that 'time' seems to do nothing at all in the above experiment.

The point being that all of this indicates that 'time' seems to do nothing at all in the above experiment, and only energy seems to have reliable measureable effects that demonstrate its actual existence.

Time the enabler? (A summary).

Figure 171 The amount of energy heating each pot directly, and entirely, affects what happens, so what 'extra' thing does Time do?


Hopefully you can see here that what I am pointing at is that Time itself seems to have absolutely no relation to what actually happens in this simple situation. While the supply of gas or energy seems to have absolutely everything to do with what happens. So it is shown that it is always the case that the location and amount of energy applied directly affects where and how much change is, or is not, happening.

Interestingly enough if we took the battery powering the wall clock out, or if it just ran flat the clock would stop, but of course then we would abandon it as the indicator of time and immediately declare that time was still going on anyway whether the clock had power or not.

In fact the only way Time can be seen as justifying its existence here is if it is in some way an essential catalyst or ‘enabler’ that allows energy to do its job but without which energy alone would be unable to function.

This possibility of time existing yet being a somewhat invisible ‘catalyst’ shouldn’t be overlooked. In chemistry there are situations where two chemicals can be mixed together with no reaction occurring, unless a third catalyst chemical is added. This extra chemical is essential to enable the reaction, but does not actually form part of the resulting mixture. So the catalyst is both essential to the reaction but not part of the result. Perhaps if time exists it could play a similar role in the universe, enabling all things to happen but not being part of them. The problem with this idea is it follows on from some very poor reasoning, as follows… We initially assume ‘time’ exists because we think our memories and the world around us indicate the existence of an extra record of events, the temporal past. When this is shown to be an over-extrapolation of the facts, rather than just drop the idea we seem to think ‘ok, that’s not a good reason to prove time, let’s look for another reason’. And the logic behind the ‘invisible  catalyst’ idea would have to be ‘we see no signs of anything, therefore perhaps something invisible and undetectable exists’  - this is the error shown in the ‘emperors new clothes’ parable all over again.

The catalyst is in fact completely recovered after the reaction.   

Is time everywhere? Or just matter and energy?

The easiest way of checking this would be to leave energy and matter, the gas and the water, in place and remove Time to see if everything, including the wall clock stopped. But wouldn’t you know it, very suspiciously, one of the features of Time, this invisible and undetectable thing, is that it also apparently can never be simply switched off or removed[8].

Moreover, just as the invisibility of the emperor’s new cloak is given as proof of how finely it is made this elusive ‘invisible yet unstoppable’ attribute of time is actually given as part of the proof time does exist, and that time is universal. This, because we say, wherever there is matter there is change, and change only happens with time, thus this proves time exists and operates or runs everywhere. The error here is in the possibly false, implied but not proven, declaration that ‘change happens only with time’.

So we tend to think of time as something that infiltrates all the corners of the universe and we believe this because wherever we look we observe movement and change. But what is ‘also’ observably and experimentally true is that wherever there is matter there is also energy[9].

It is also one of the fundamental laws of the universe is that no object can be cooled to absolute zero[10] (see book ref), this means that every object, every collection of matter, no matter where it is or how cold it might be has to have some ‘heat energy’ within it, and it is agreed that where there is energy there is movement and change.

You can choose to add the idea ‘and this shows that there is also time everywhere’, but only legitimately if you can also clearly explain what you mean by this extra thing called ‘time’. So you need to explain where time resides, how it gets to be everywhere where matter and energy are, why time is essential for things to exist and move, or to just exist and do nothing, what powers ‘time’, and explain all of time’s other ‘baggage’, and even why you added the idea of time to your explanation of the universe in the first place.

Back to the kitchen. Disproving one fixed rate

If you consider the previous kitchen scenario you can see that we could have say four different water pots each being heated up on a different cooker ring at a different ‘gas mark’ or rate and all evaporating in direct relation to the heat they were receiving. But if we looked at the clock on the wall we would feel that the second hand just kept ticking by at the same regular rate.

If we had another mechanical device that looked similar to the main clock but whose hands moved at a noticeably and constantly faster rate so the second hand was going tick, tick, tick, tick, for every one tick on the main clock, we would probably choose to ignore the faster clock and say there was a problem with it.

But this is slightly odd and somewhat biased. We have the main clock, the faster clock, and all the different pots all changing at different ‘rates’ but we seem to choose one particular thing to be the definitive ‘rate’, and it just so happens to be the one thing we happen to be most familiar with.

This bias is a bit hard to see, but it is similar to the idea that your own native language is the ‘real’ language, and all other languages are the ‘different ones’ or not as valid.

What I'm saying is, is there any real proof that in the universe there is ‘a’ basic or fundamental ‘rate of Time’?  Or do things in one location just move and change independently of how other things elsewhere move and change. Any similarity in the way distant and separate objects move and change just being a result of the laws of physics, forces, masses, inertia and so on being the same in different places. Is there a fundamental ‘tick’ or rate to the universe? Why isn't it just that pot ‘A’ boils away at its own rate, and pot ‘B’ at its own rate, depending on local conditions?

It seems more scientific to say that the rates at which A and B boil away are dictated by the laws of physics; in that everything is made of the same kinds of atoms, masses are similar, the strength of atomic forces, the effects of momentum etc are the same throughout the universe. And so these similarities will ‘link’ how a pot in one place boils in a similar way to a pot anywhere else in the universe, if it is in similar circumstances. But the distinction is that they will act similarly only because of all of the atomic and mechanical similarities – and this may mistakenly be interpreted to suggest that another, extra, thing called ‘Time’ exists and links them – but only if we force this extra, ‘functionless’ and ‘superfluous’ conclusion ‘that time exists’ into our observations.

>>Entropy, Is just Entropy.

Back to >> ∆ Timeless v.Time distinctions (Rhetoric and Semantics).

[1] If in our everyday lives we happen to leave a pan of water or something similar lying around it does tend to evaporate but this is because virtually everywhere on Earth there is a surplus of energy, don’t forget we live near a ball of nuclear fire one million times the volume of the Earth. (LOST FRAG??)



[2] As mentioned elsewhere some scientists think it may be a feature of nature that particle of matter can disappear or appear completely at random, but by definition ‘at random’ means this would not prove the existence and/or steady progression of Time.

[3] For simplicity let's say if you double the gas burn rate you double the rate the water evaporates.

[4] This is useful to note because normally we talk about a ‘moment’ as being a particular ‘Time’, here we can say that the ‘moment’ the water started changing was actually a particular place in the pan. XX EXPAND

[5] Really?

[6] As in previous footnote, generally speaking.

[7] We could add here that in fact atoms and electrons move at very significant fractions of the speed of light and thus trillions of ‘Time dilation’ effects could be said to involved here but this is to be covered elsewhere.

[8] Relativity suggests Time can be, and is ‘dilated’, i.e. slowed and even possibly stopped. So some might claim ‘Time can be removed’ to see what happens without it. But this dilation can also be seen as ‘rates of motion’ just being dilated ‘now’, this is covered elsewhere and would overcomplicate the point being made here if referred to directly.

[9] I don’t mean just rest energy here.

[10] Partly because it is physically impossible to achieve and partly because it violates the Heisenberg uncertainty principle that one cannot know precisely where an object is and how fast it is moving. If an object or particle was completely frozen, that is it had absolutely zero energy, then it would not be moving and so we would know precisely where it was and its speed (zero).