The constant march of time could be a source of stress. Who hasn’t sometimes wished for the ability to suspend themselves in a joyful moment or even prevent a loved one by slipping away.
Every once in a while, a science-fiction book, film, or TV series will include characters that will do what we all wish: Stop time
However, is such a thing possible? Answering that question takes a deep dip into the farthest corners of mathematics, philosophy and individual perception.
First, we must define time. “Time is just a label on distinct parts of the universe. It tells us when something is happening”
Many physics equations make little differentiation among the past, present and future, Carroll added. One place time seems is in Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Since the pieces of a clock has to move through space, time gets tangled up with distance into a larger concept called space-time that underpins the universe.
Relativity famously demonstrated that time can become pretty wonky based on how fast an observer is moving relative to another observer. If you send a person having a clock on a spaceship at near light speed, time will seem to pass more slowly for them than it will to get a static buddy left on Earth. And also an astronaut falling into a black hole, whose immense gravity can warp time, may also appear to slow down into a remote observer.
But that is not really a way to stop time,” Carroll said. Two clocks can differ in relativity, but every will still record the usual passing of time inside their own reference frame.
“You would look at your wristwatch, and it might pass one second per second.”
For him, it makes very little sense to speak about quitting time. We know that a vehicle is moving since, at different moments of time, it’s in a different place in space, ” he explained. “Motion is shift with regard to time, so time can’t move.” In other words, if time stopped, all motion would stop also.
While sci-fi has sometimes given us protagonists who will pause time for everybody else, such scenarios raise a great deal of questions. “Are you stopping the air from moving?” Carroll asked. “Because if so, then you’re imprisoned by the atmosphere.”
A time-stopping personality would also probably be unable to see anything, he added, because light rays would no longer reach their eyeballs. “There’s not really any consistent situation where time stops”
So much for math. But time is more than simply some thing read on a clock. Additionally, it is a feeling that we have in our heads and bodies, as well as the natural rhythms of the world. Yet in those cases, time can become something subject to personal whims.
“Considering the abstract belief of period becomes interesting,” Craig Callender, a philosopher who specializes in time in the University of California, San Diego, told Live Science.
He explained a renowned psychological illusion known as”chronostasis,” in which a individual puts a clock at the edge of their vision and then stares at something else for a minute. Reunite in the timepiece and focusing on the second hand will allow it to pause. (It is sometimes a quirky way to remain entertained during introductory period math class in high school.)
“The next hand hangs there a little bit,” Callender said. “You can make time look like it freezes.”
The illusion has to do with miniature eye movements called saccades, where your eyeballs quickly flick back and forth to constantly take in their surroundings. To keep you from seeing a chaotic blur, your mind actually edits what it sees in real time and generates the impression of a constant field of opinion, Callender said.
The question then becomes, what is the connection between our perceptions of time and the time physicists are talking about? Callender has written a number of books that attempt to explore the link between both, and as yet, there isn’t much consensus about a final answer.
Seeing the best flow of time, Callender favors a picture”where there’s nothing flowing, but the story of your self is flowing.”
And what exactly does he think regarding the chance of quitting time? “If we think our subjective awareness of time, then we can stop parts of it using chronostasis,” Callender said. “But that’s most likely the closest we could do.”