Does time measure or is it the thing being measured?

I suggested earlier that, based on the dual core meaning of the word time, then we can consider that Time (the abstract framework) can be used to measure time (the non-specific set of events). This is worth investigating further…what actually is being ‘measured’.

So, before I stated that this dual meaning of time overcomes the conundrum of time measuring time, step back to your initial understanding. And, I think it’s fair to say that we all assumed that time is what was being measured (that’s what clocks do isn’t it?).

But is time measured? If you don’t know what time is (and you didn’t until I told you) , how can you possibly measure it? (Particularly if you assume it to be an abstract – how can you measure an abstract?)

I repeat this to reinforce its significance. If we don’t know what time is (and that was our starting point) how then can we measure it? How can we possibly measure something that we can’t define? This is so fundamental, and yet is just glossed over (including by eminent academics!)

However, we can assert that it is a measurer, because we have defined it as the dimension which we know we use to measure, for example, our own age. And we have clocks.

If time is the measurer what does it measure? Well, it measures the gap between two events – what else is there? Sometimes the ‘event’ is notional (like ‘now’) but in all other conditions, in all other ways we use time in its measurement context to measure the gap between two events.

This highlights another misunderstood principle – that time is specific to a closed set of an event, a gap and another event – this is a specific reference frame. If it measures, then it can only be a measure for this simple, closed set, this specific reference frame. In the same way that distance only measure from one point to another point.

This then brings us to another very important understanding – if time is specific to a single set, in isolation this set only has its own time reference – there isn’t a universal reference. As an example, suppose we have regard to a specific static (isolated) object. And say an event happens to that object, and then nothing (a gap), and then another event. The value of the gap is wholly irrelevant to the static, unchanging, isolated reference frame – be it 1 second or 1 million years. If the object is unchanging you could say it’s timeless. Any value attributed to the ‘gap’ has no intrinsic relevance to the object itself; it is only an externally inputted value arrived at by reference to an external arbitrary calibration (e.g. a continual event series such as the earth’s rotation or the ticking of a clock).

Without reference to an external event-series, time doesn’t ‘pass’ for this simple set. So a clock might measure the ‘gap’, but that gap isn’t time, it is simply a static unchanging (timeless) object – time is the measurer not the measured. It is irrelevant to a single isolated reference frame.

The framework that we have constructed based on an event-series to measure (calibrate) periods is one of our definitions of time; and time can’t measure time unless we are giving time two distinct definitions.