Is time thought of as a literal physical dimension (90 degrees perpendicular to our own) or is it something else entirely?

Something else entirely. The ‘fourth dimension’ right-angle thing is a hopeless attempt to interpret spacetime.

Dimensions are (abstract) measurement frameworks. Space (in the context of dimension) measures relative position, for convenience, in 3 right-angles vectors (height, depth, width or xyz-axis).

Time is the dimension of change, i.e. it’s how we measure change rate. For example we measure change in position (aka Motion) in miles PER HOUR. The per hour bit is time calibrating change.

The problem arises because too many physicists don’t seem to understand what ‘dimensions’ are, and don’t understand what Space and Time are within the context of dimension. Hence they really don’t understand what Spacetime is…the dimension changing position i.e. motion.

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