There is no empirical evidence of time being tangible, concrete or ‘real’ – none. Time doesn’t cause anything; it’s not a force, or a stream or a flow. If it has no causal impact, it has no existence, other than in our mind.
If it did, we could base hypothesis about its nature on that impact. But there isn’t any; it is therefore just a word, and hence the definition that we ascribe to it is based simply on our usage and agreed meaning.
And when you break down the words usage, time is a collective term for a non-specific set of events [it collates, or agglomerates, and expresses a collection or set of events – like the word ‘traffic’ does to vehicles], and its an abstract framework for referencing, indexing and calibrating events (aka a ‘dimension’).
For what else other than events (change) is there to indicate time? Without events there is no time.
And we exist in a continually changing slither [of time]; and both interval and persistence are, arguably, fundamentally meaningless.
So that’s time – so simple. Mystery solved.
A consequential understanding to Time referencing change is that Space references static existence and space-time references dynamic existence (i.e. everything ever, which, as Einstein pointed out, is curvy).
The two universal realities aren’t space and time, but their underlying fundamentals of existence and change – or more directly, matter and energy.
It also means there is no ‘universal’ time; time is specific to each quantum event (it progresses quantum event by quantum event).
What science needs to focus on is not time but the underlying fundamental – events and the relationship between events; the relationship between the outcome of energy differentials.
What is more surprising than having to accept that time is an abstract is the absurdity of ever believing that it wasn’t. The idea that there was something concrete or tangible, that was time, but which not only couldn’t be explained, but that even its possible nature couldn’t be explained (was it meant to be a force, a flow, a current – who knows) is strange.
For me the most mysterious thing about time is that it is just a word – so how can we, the inventors of the word, have allowed its definition to have run away from us?