You can’t see it, hear it, feel it or smell it; yet it governs our lives and dictates almost our every move from when to get up to when we are asleep. It can be measured highly accurately by atomic clocks and yet time is one of the Universes most peculiar aspects.
It has only been since the work of Einstein and his special relativity at the turn of the last century that we have begun to gather an understanding at what time is. Thanks to Einstein and others that followed his work our understanding of time has led to new technologies such as computers, satellite navigation, network time servers (computer synchronisation devices) and atomic clocks.
However, the theories developed following Einstein’s work have unearthed some amazing and freakish facts about time – here are five things you perhaps didn’t know about time:
5. Time hasn’t always existed; it started at the moment of the big bang but before then there was no time (just as there was no universe). If the universe finally contracts (in what some theorists call the big crunch) and the universe returned to a single point in space (singularity) then time would come to an end (along with everything else in the universe).
4. Time is not a constant as was first thought (by Issac Newton amongst others), thank to Einstein we now know time is relative and will be vary to different observers depending on their position and speed. The faster an observer is going the more time slows down and close to the speed of light (in a vacuum which is the only constant in a universe) time will virtually stand still making a million year long journey whizz by in seconds this is know as time dilation.
3. Time isn’t an individual component of the universe it is in fact part of the very fabric of space and is intertwined in what Einstein called a four-dimensional space time.
2. Space time can be ‘warped’ by gravity which in effect slows down time that means the more gravity there is, the slower time will pass. Interestingly this has been measures to such a tiny degree by atomic clocks and means that your feet are in fact younger than the top of your head.
1. Time travel is not just a fantasy invented by science fiction writers but in fact time travel is theoretically possible according to modern physicists although critics argue our technology will never be advanced enough to achieve it, otherwise where are all the time travellers from the future?
Atomic clocks mean we can now measure time incredibly accurately (to within a second every 100 million years). Modern computer networks use NTP servers (network time protocol) to synchronize to an atomic clock which allows computers all over the world to communicate in perfect time synchronization.
Richard N Williams is a technical author and specialist in atomic clocks, telecommunications, NTP and network time synchronisation helping to develop dedicated NTP clocks. Please visit us for more information about a Galleon ntp time server or other ntp server solutions.