What is (the) Time?

Updated: Dec 16, 2018

Time is one of the strangest things we can talk about. It is a simple concept that kids can understand at an early age but the concept of time is hard to explain in words. So, let’s spend some time talking about time.

Describing Time..

Time can be observed in nature only when changes occur. We look at the sky and we see clouds moving, meaning that time is passing. We sleep one-third of the day but that third might feel like seconds because we don’t see any changes.

When we are in a classroom and the subject feels boring, time doesn’t seem to move at all. However, when you are in a classroom where you like learning new things, time flies. How is that possible?

Einstein has said that if a man spends the same amount of time being with a beautiful woman and sitting on a bed full of thorns, the first would seem like seconds and the latter would seem like an eternity.

Einstein and relativity

Einstein was the first one to prove that time isn’t a constant that doesn’t change like we assume even today. Time is a property that changes depending on where we are. Let us explain this in simple words.

Einstein said that mass can make time and light bend. The bigger the mass the higher the curvature of time. On Earth, for example, we have a constant time. So, let’s consider two twin brothers. One will stay on Earth and the other on the Moon and they meet after 50 years. The brother that lived on the Moon will look much older than his brother on Earth. Earth being heavier than the Moon, time passes slower around a heavier object than the lighter object. So, the time on the Moon passes much faster than on Earth.

There is No Present...Just Past and Future

It might sound strange, but let us break this down for you. If we ask you the exact time now, you might say 17:15 and 25 seconds. But by the time we hear the time you just said, it would already be 17:15 and 26 seconds. So, the time you just told us is already past by 1 second.

Still not convinced? Alright then, imagine you are on a train moving at a constant speed and are on the phone with us. If we ask for your exact position, by the time you give us a position, you will have moved past that position because the train is in constant motion. Hence, you would never be able to give us your exact position as long as the train is moving. So, the moving train is a perfect way to explain time.


As you can imagine, science has discovered certain properties of time but it is still unable to entirely explain Time as a concept. Thermodynamics can explain time as hotter objects transferring heat to colder objects. In fewer words, it is the rate of change that defines time as per thermodynamics.

What we know about time is that it cannot be stopped, except in a black hole. Time is relative to the rate of change of the nature that surrounds us and finally, time will finish for us on one or the other day, so enjoy it!