Why is time so different from space?

Theme of time What is time actually?

Time - hardly any thing, hardly any state, hardly any structure seems so mystical, so puzzling, so inscrutable to us. Although it is around us all the time, we move within it. Thing, state, structure - what is time actually? What is it made of? Does it even consist of anything?

Reference to Augustine

If anyone could have any idea, it would be Prof. Hermann Nicolai, head of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam. But he also evades and quotes Augustine, a philosopher who lived 1,700 years ago: "If nobody asks me about it, I know. But if I'm supposed to explain it to you, I don't know anymore. Yes, you think it is something completely obvious. And if you then try to define what I actually mean by time, then you start swimming. "

Time as the fourth component

Nuclear physicist Steffen Turkat from the TU Dresden has to answer the question - "What is time?" - don't think twice. For him, the classic Einsteinian view of time applies: "If you asked the majority of physicists, they would probably answer that time is a dimension. Time is just like space. Our space consists of X-, Y- and Z component. And time is a fourth component called space-time. "

Never the same time twice

So space and time are one. No time without space. No space without time. Time as the fourth dimension of space alongside height, width and length. But that can't be. Time is different, time cannot be seen, cannot be measured with a folding rule.

Yes, says astrophysicist Harald Lesch. Time can be understood as part of space, but there is a difference to height, width and length: "There is an unbelievable difference between space and time. We can go to the same place twice, but never at the same time twice. That means: time is a qualitative dimension and space is a quantitative dimension. "

We can all sign that. This is how we perceive time - as irretrievable. But still that doesn't help us a bit with the question: "What is time?" There is an interesting argument in philosophy. One camp cuddles with the natural sciences, so to speak. This is the faction that says: time does not exist independently of space, movement, events.

Time as a container

The other camp says: Yes, time is a thing of its own. Prof. Norman Sieroka from the University of Bremen describes the point of view of the philosophy colleagues: "Whether time itself is a substance, whether there is something like time independent of events, so to speak. One can imagine that it would be a large container and pack there I put events in. And so to speak, the 60s really felt different or smelled and tasted different than the time now. "

The time as a container! As a kind of séparée, separated from the room. This time, so the theory goes, is simply there. It is there and just waiting to be filled with events. Definitely an interesting take on the subject.

Time as a product of the mind

Mathematician Prof. Martin Grötschel has another special view of time to offer. He is President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Here is his point of view: Be careful: "Time is a product of the human mind, to put it so harshly and brutally!"

You can't invent time! Time is real! The years don't go by without a trace, do you? No matter what time is - it does exist, right? Where did childhood go? What is still to come? We're not making that up, are we?

Grötschel explains how he means that we invent the mystery of time: "In mathematics there is always a dispute about whether mathematics is invented or discovered. And I have to admit that I wasn't clear for a long time and I sometimes In the morning I thought I was discovering mathematics and in the afternoon, I invent it. But in the meantime I have taken a closer look at it and am firmly convinced that mathematics was invented and numbers were invented too.

Each department has its own point of view

Another argument in favor of his thesis, according to Grötschel, is that not even physics has a clear idea of ​​time. Each department has its own point of view. That means: Even today, the phenomenon of time is still a mystery. But that's not so bad either. Because what science thinks of time is ultimately irrelevant, says astrophysicist Harald Lesch: "And I believe that science does not help us there. Because the life experience we have is always one that closes with our time What I mean by that is that time is so diverse and fundamental to us that we will always have difficulties with it. Especially because we know that our time is running out. "