# How is time not a constant?

I am a visual person, so it's hard to imagine the information I keep getting, but shouldn't time be a constant?

If you were traveling at the speed of light and your able to cover $299{,}792{,}458$ meters in one second, aren't you just going faster than anything else? Why does time slow down as you approach high speeds?

Think about it on a $x-y$ 2D grid. I start off from point $(0,0)$. Then I travel at $299{,}792{,}458\ \mathrm{m/s}$ horizontally, so my $x$ after traveling one second should be at $299{,}792{,}458$. If each $x$ point is one meter apart, wouldn't this mean you are just traveling so fast that your eyes are all blurred up until the point where you slow down to a speed where your eyes could distinctly see what's going on around you, yet nothing is slowed down, it's just you were able to physically reach that speed within a second. So time doesn't stop it's always constant in the sense that it never stops or increases in speed, it's just ticks a constant pace.

If I throw a ball at a speed and it will travel at that same speed, but if I threw the ball at the speed of light, I can pretty much make the ball reach the location faster than the time it should of reached mathematical wise, which that doesn't even make any sense.

• Sorry, I deleted your last paragraph of the question description body to avoid lengthy reading. You can add that part here in the comments to make others know your background. Commented May 28, 2014 at 15:37
• @Peterix Your editing is appreciated. Though while you are at it, it's worth mentioning that commas in long numbers should be written {,} to prevent extra spacing, and units should never be italicized: \mathrm{m/s}. Also, with MathJax (but not necessarily a good font in real Latex), $2\mathrm{D}$ (or just plain 2D) tends to look better than $2$D.
– user10851
Commented May 29, 2014 at 0:28

Probably, you misunderstood the non-absolute Time interval concept. At near $c$, your eyes can't perceive that your time is dilated (and, length is contracted). You and your measurement tools won't feel any difference at near $c$. Your clocks would tick at the same rate for you like that of rest observer.

The only glitch: A rest observer won't be agree with your measured values (of time interval and length) and you won't be agree with theirs. There's nothing to understand here. It's similar to how two different observers don't agree with measured speed.

• could you please explain what C your talking about, thank you Commented May 28, 2014 at 15:08
• @user47429 Hey, this is a popular constant. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light Commented May 28, 2014 at 15:12

Your logic is very good, indeed. And it makes sense, what you describe. I agree.

But then we try to measure it. And here comes the big problem: what we measure in our world doesn't follow this logic!

It seems very logic, but the world just doesn't behave that way. Weird, yes. But apparently it is true.

A famous example:

Put a light measurement device at the front and back of a car. Shine light on the car from behind. We can measure when it reaches the first and second device so we know the time it took light to move from one to the other. The distance between them divided by this duration gives the speed:

$$c=3\times 10^8 m/s$$

This is fast, but that's OK. Now, the car is driving. 300 km/h. We shine light from a lamp on the ground behind it. We measure the time from the light hits the first to the second device. We calculate again and get... the same answer as before:

$$c=3\times 10^8 m/s$$

We would expect to measure a smaller speed, since we would expect that it takes longer for light to pass over the car, now that it is moving. But we don't see that. In motion or not, the speed is the same. We would have thought that we could "outrun light" - so if we ran with half the speed of light, it would take longer time for light to reach us. But that is not what we measure! Light has the same speed and takes the same time to move the distance, nomatter how fast this distance tries to move away.

Many experiments like this show that the speed is the same nomatter how we measure it! And in other words, no matter from whose point of view!

Speed of light is constant, but not time

And now we could ask ourselves, what does that mean?

Consider a light bulb on the floor in a train cabin and a measuring device on the ceiling. The guy who sits in the train cabin sees the light shine from floor to ceiling. This is the total distance light covers.

A man on the station on the other hand, he sees the light leave the bulb, but before it reaches the ceiling, the train has moved to the side. So when the light hits the ceiling, it has moved not vertical, but at an angle. And this distance is longer than the vertical distance.

So, light covers two different distances in the exact same experiment. It depends on who you ask. But, for both of the people the speed of light is still the same $c$ (as the previous experiment showed). Since speed is the same, and distance traveled is different, the time must also be different.

So here we reach the relativity: Time is not the same for all - time is slower (you age slower) if you are moving faster.

It is something we measure. And it has been measured. So it is a fact of this world. But weird, very weird, and not easy to either explain nor accept for our brains. Luckily this relatively is only an issue at very, very high speeds. So on no normal life situation will this be an issue.

• I am not expert in this topic at all. But I would like ask a question. There is no need to answer me because probably I won't understand (I know nothing about relativity). I know that time dilation comes from what you have described. But wasn't it better that they was improving the definitions of speed, kinetic energy, etc. instead of time? Time is an undefined concept like point in geometry. Isn't it better that we change definitions those we have defined ourselves instead of changing definition of a concept that is an undefined concept in fact? Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 15:37
• @lucas Good point. Well, if you know speed and length, then it is pretty obvious to just find the time and compare with. This is just an example. Apart from that many other parameters have certain relativistic expressions that depend on the actual speed. Mass, length, time etc. and probably many more have expression derived in a similar manner, in order for us to find relativistic values. I guess a Google search for them would find them Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 15:44

Universal Time is constant in each dimension. The value of that constant varies from dimension to dimension. Change in Universal Time only occurs between dimensions. When objects appear to move towards us, the object we see is from a higher dimension. When we see objects that appear to be moving away, they are lower dimensions. Objects from other dimensions can only be detected through the passage of time.