what is time?
: Zeit ist das, was man an der Uhr abliest.
[Time is what a clock measures.]
: Nam Tempus, Spatium, Locum & Motum, ut omnibus notiſſima, non definio.
[I do not define time, space, place, and motion, as being well known to all.]
: τὸ πολυτελέστατον ἀνάλωμα τὸν χρόνον.
[The most precious thing a man can spend is time.]
: ὥσπερ οὖν εἰ μὴ ἦν ἕτερον τὸ νῦν ἀλλὰ ταὐτὸ καὶ ἕν, οὐκ ἂν ἦν χρόνος.
[As, if the now had remained the same, time would not have existed.]
[Augustine of Hippo]
: quid est ergo tempus? si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio.
[What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not.]
: Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too. Ποταμός τίς ἐστι τῶν γινομένων καὶ ῥεῦμα βίαιον ὁ αἰών· ἅμα τε γὰρ ὤφθη ἕκαστον, καὶ παρενήνεκται καὶ ἄλλο παραφέρεται, τὸ δὲ ἐνεχθήσεται. Julian Barbour
: We shall come to see that time does not exist. Henri Bergson
: Le temps est ce qui empêche que tout soit donné tout d'un coup.
[Time keeps everything from happening all at once.]
: Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on; le malheur est qu'il soit un maître inhumain qui tue ses élèves.
[Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.]
: Comedy is tragedy plus time. David Byrne
: Time isn't holding us.Time isn't after us. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Charles Chesnutt
: Time touches all things with destroying hand. Benjamin Disraeli
: Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time. Benjamin Franklin
: You may delay, but time will not. Benjamin Franklin
: Remember that time is money. Merrick Furst
: The biggest difference between time and space is that you can't reuse time. Ben Hecht
: Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away. Ιπποκράτης
: Χρόνος ἐστὶν ἐν ᾧ καιρός, καὶ καιρὸς ἐν ᾧ χρόνος οὐ πολύς‧
[Time is that wherein there is opportunity, and opportunity is that wherein there is no great time.]
: Time, as we know it, is a very recent invention. The modern time-sense is hardly older than the United States. It is a by-product of industrialism — a sort of psychological analogue of synthetic perfumes and aniline dyes. Franklin P. Jones
: Time is a versatile performer. It flies, marches on, heals all wounds, runs out, and will tell. Stanisław Lec
: Życie zabiera ludziom zbyt wiele czasu.
[People find life entirely too time consuming.]
: The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time. Groucho Marx
: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. David B. Norris
: How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever. Ovid
: Tempus edax rerum.
[Time is the devourer of all things.]
: Time marks us while we are marking time. William Shakespeare
: But thought's the slave of life, and life time's fool;and time, that takes survey of all the world,must have a stop. William Shakespeare
: I wasted time, and now doth time waste me Bob Talbert
: Time neither subtracts nor divides, but adds at such a pace it seems like multiplication. Henry David Thoreau
: As if we could kill time without injuring eternity! H.G. Wells
: Clearly…any real body must have extension in four directions: it must have length, breadth, thickness, and duration….There are really four dimensions, three which we call the three planes of space, and a fourth, time. There is, however, a tendency to draw an unreal distinction between the former three dimensions and the latter, because it happens that our consciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter from the beginning to the end of our lives. Steven Wright
: Everywhere is in walking distance if you have the time. unknown: : An inch of gold cannot buy an inch of time. 寸金难买寸光阴 unknown: : The speed of time is one second per second. unknown: : Time heals all wounds — except deadly ones. unknown: : Wasting time is an important part of living. unknown: : Time is an illusion perpetrated by the manufacturers of space. unknown: : What does "it" mean in the sentence, "What time is it?" Tom Stoppard
: Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where's it going to end?
Lots of fancy words for what could be stated more simply, or can it? Simple concepts are often the most difficult to explain. Many times, there's one notion that we carry around with us and another, more technical and specific, that's used in physics. What time is it? Pretty simple question, no? . Now tell me again what time is. Is my definition any good? Well, of course it is. Otherwise I wouldn't have written it down. Time in the physical sense is always relative and never absolute. That is to say, we always consider time as the interval between two events and not as some cumulative measure of this abstract thing we talk about when when ask, "What time is it?" When did time begin? In the year 1 CE? Hardly. That's just a cultural fixed point. Do you think Socrates walked around thinking, "I can't believe it's 535 BCE already. I can't stop writing 536 BCE on my checks"? When the aliens land on Mount Shasta they'll have a different chronometer reading in their spaceships, using different units and a different zero point. Furthermore, why is it in London and in Seattle? This idea of local time is not usually what we mean by time in physics.
Have you ever heard people say "Daylight Saving Time is ending so we'll gain an hour Saturday night"? Well let me tell you right now that nobody ever gained an hour when Daylight Saving Time ended, not literally anyway. If you were in the hospital, nearing death at 1:59 AM on the last Saturday of October in the United States would you have lived an extra hour if you died two minutes later at 1:01 AM? Would you say you went back in time? No way. There's time — in the sense of how long it takes for something to happen — and then there's time -- in the sense of "What time is it?". Time in the former sense, as used in physics, is measured with a stopwatch or an interval timer, while time in the latter sense is determined with a wristwatch or clock. In the course of your study of physics you'll have to understand the difference between the two meanings of this one word.
Time is a measure of the interval between two events. Time is also a cultural construct whereby an event can be associated with a series of numbers. When the quantity called time appears in a physical equation, it is always referring to the measure of the interval between two events.
year month day
The length of a year depends on your choice of calendars or how you define a year.
|type||in days||in seconds||notes|
|julian||365.25||31,557,600||adopted by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE|
|gregorian||365.2425||31,556,952||adopted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582|
|tropical||365.242189…||31,556,925.16…||period between vernal equinoxes|
|sidereal||365.256363…||31,558,149.76…||orbital period relative to the stars|
|anomalistic||365.259635…||31,558,432.46…||period between perihelia|
|eclipse||346.620075…||29,947,974.48…||period of lunar node passages|
hour minute second
decade century millennium eon
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
international atomic time (tai)
The SI unit of time is the second [s].
The hyperfine transition is the basis of International Atomic Time (TAI). By definition, the outermost electron in an ordinary cesium 133 atom cycles through this transition 9,192,631,770 times in one second.
International Atomic Time (abbreviated TAI after the French Temps Atomique International) began at midnight GMT on the first day of 1958 and has continued advancing forward at the rate of one second every 9,192,631,770 periods of the hyperfine transition in 133Cs. TAI is maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) in Paris, which periodically averages the time kept by various atomic clocks around the world. The BIPM then disseminates correction factors needed to synchronize these clocks with the master clock in the Observatoire de Paris.
coordinated universal time (utc)
Coordinated Universal Time (abbreviated UTC) is the basis of legal time throughout the world. All local civil times differ from UTC by either a whole number of hours or an odd number of half hours, but never by any other amount. One second of Coordinated Universal Time is the same as one second of International Atomic Time, but UTC and TAI are slightly out of step. TAI marches forward uniformly, while UTC is adjusted from time to time to keep it synchronized with the earth's rotation.
The earth is not an effective timekeeper. For most of the last two hundred years the mean solar day has been slightly longer than the 86,400 s currently defined by the International System. Universal Time UT, or more specifically UT1, is in effect the mean solar time. It is continuous (i.e. there are no leap seconds) but has a variable rate because of the Earth's non-uniform rotation period. It is needed for computing the sidereal time, an essential part of pointing a telescope at a celestial source. The quantity UT1-UTC, which typically changes by 1 or 2 ms per year, can only be obtained by observation, though seasonal trends are known and the IERS listings are able to predict some way into the future with adequate accuracy for pointing telescopes.
When UT1 lags too far behind UTC, a leap second is inserted at the end of the day before January 1 or July 1 as appropriate. When this happens, 23:59:59 is followed by the unusual time of 23:59:60 before turning over to 00:00:00 and starting the next day. In the unlikely event that UT1 were to lead UTC (that is, if the earth's rate of rotation were to increase) the provision exists for the insertion of a negative leap second. Were this to ever occur, 23:59:58 of one day would be followed by 00:00:00 of the next, skipping 23:59:59 altogether. In any case the absolute difference between UTC and UT1 must never exceed 0.9 s.
The decision on when to insert a leap second is made by the International Earth Rotation Service (IERS) in Frankfurt based on observations of the Earth's orientation in space.
Adding leap seconds to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) keeps it in line with the rotation of the earth as measured by Universal Time (UT1).
Coordinated Universal Time, CUT — Temps universel coordonné, TUC
Are leap seconds even necessary?
- In seven or eight centuries the difference between TAI and UT1 will be about an hour.
- By the year 5000, day and night will have reversed; that is, 12 noon will occur in the middle of the night and 12 midnight will synch up with the midday sun.
What would be so wrong with that? Does it really matter what number we assign to a position of the sun in the sky?
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII managed to extract ten days from the calendar. On 4 October 1582 the Catholic world went to sleep. When they woke up it was 15 October 1582. By 1752 the protestant nation of England and her American colonies also accepted the change. (They needed to add 11 days to catch up.) In 1873 Japan made the switch. (They needed 12 days.) Then Russia in 1917 and China in 1949. (13 days.) The Greek Orthodox Church is possibly the only European agency that has not accepted this change (although the nation of Greece made the switch in 1923).
I think the big thing is that everyone agrees what time (or day) it is. Not that the time is any particular number. Time is a social construct, remember.
|*||Adjustments from 1961 to 1971 followed a more complicated protocol and were omitted. Only the final offset is shown.|
network time protocol (ntp)
Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a 64 bit binary counter that advances in synchrony with International Atomic Time (TAI). The first 32 bits (binary digits) count the seconds and the second 32 bits count the fractions of a second.
The first 32 bits divide NTP into eras lasting 136 years, since…
232 s = 4,294,967,296 s ≈ 136 years
or more precisely…
232 s = 4,294,967,296 s ≈ 136 years, 36 days, 6 hours, 28 minutes, 16 seconds
but don't quote me on the number of days. The years shift between normal years with 365 days and leap years with 366 days in a roughly four year cycle. The exceptions that made me write "roughly" make this an exact number that is a pain to determine. My guess is that for most eras there'd be 136 years and 36 days plus the fractions in this cycle and for exceptional eras (like those containing the years 2400 or 2800) there'd be 136 years and 37 days plus the fractions. But all this is idle speculation. NTP is probably the longest continuously running protocol on the Internet, but it would be astounding if it lasted four hundred years.
The first era of NTP began 1 January 1900 at midnight Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) — the predecessor of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). No NTP clock literally began ticking at this time, of course. The necessary technology hadn't been invented. (Digital computers first appeared in the late 1930s and the first atomic clock was built in 1949.) It's just a convenient place to put the zero for us humans who are used to years, days, hours and minutes. When UTC went into effect at 00:00:00 on 1 January 1972 the NTP time was 2,272,060,800; the first 32 bits of which looks like this…
or with all 64 bits, like this…
The second 32 bits allows for a precision of about one quarter of a nanosecond since…
2−32 s = 2.328 × 10−10 s ≈ ¼ ns
This is a ridiculous level of precision given that the maximum speed at which any signal can propagate through a network is the speed of light. To take advantage of the last bit in the 64 bit NTP code, the time server would have to be closer than the distance traveled by a beam of light in 2−32 s.
s = ct = (299,792,458 m/s)(2−32 s) = 0.06980 m ≈ 7 cm
My favorite NTP server is time.nist.gov at the Time and Frequency Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. This is roughly 2900 km from my desktop computer in New York City. The signal that I get is delayed by at least…
t = s/c = (2,900,000 m)/(299,792,458 m/s) = 0.009673 s ≈ 10 ms
I could get increased accuracy by switching to time-a.nist.gov located in Gaithersburg, Maryland; which is only 380 km away. This signal would have a maximum delay of only…
t = s/c = (380,000 m)/(299,792,458 m/s) = 0.001268 s ≈ 1 ms
This increase in accuracy is meaningless given the way signals propagate over the Internet. Data (like email, web pages, streaming video, and time signals) are broken up into packets that are free to take whatever path the network allows. Unlike a classical telephone network where information is sent along a single dedicated channel, the packets of an Internet message need not follow the same path. Each one is free to negotiate its own journey. The path each packet follows is determined by the architecture of the network and the instantaneous traffic at every node and through every link. Packets can even get lost or "dropped" along the way. Only after they've all arrived are the packets reassembled into the original message.
The electronic act of chopping up a message into packets and reassembling them back into a message takes time, as does the negotiation that each packet makes at the junctions or nodes in the network. The overall result is that the actual transmission time is several times the speed-of-light time. Typical ping times across the United States are on the order of 10 to 100 ms. For NTP this means a deviation from TAI of around 10 to 100 ms in practice. Erring on the side of caution, most software companies will only claim accuracy to within a second.
|event||common era||ntp era||ntp time|
|julian day number zero begins||1||January||4713||BCE||−49−||1,795,583,104|
|common era begins||1||January||1||CE||−14−||202,934,144|
|gregorian calendar begins||15||October||1582||−3−||2,874,597,888|
|unix time begins||1||January||1970||0||2,208,988,800|
|utc synched to tai minus 10 s||1||January||1972||0||2,272,060,800|
|last second of second millennium||31||December||1999||0||3,155,673,599|
|first second of third millennium||1||January||2000||0||3,155,673,600|
|unix time reaches one billion seconds||9||September||2001||0||3,208,988,800|
|ntp era change||7||February||2036||1||0|
|fourth millennium begins||1||January||3000||8||352,930,432|