It is only logical for us to view time as a continuous flow of events from one moment to another. However, it can also be helpful to look at time as a succession of pictures where the events that take place are like the progression of images. And if you position these pictures in a single file, we will be able to see each event that has happened, is currently taking place, and will eventually happen in the future all over the entire universe.
Every single moment in space and time can be seen. From the instant when the universe was created 14 billion years ago, to the birth of our planet about 4 and a half billion years ago, until the current events taking place in our world now such as me typing down this article on my computer. This perception of time helped Albert Einstein shatter old beliefs people had about the past, present, and future.
In order to get a better grasp of what this means, you need to have a better understanding of how you define the present. Your concept of the present might consist of numerous things such as you sitting down on you chair while watching the news, your pet dog currently eating his dinner, the sun shining its rays on your house, a lion eating its prey in the middle of an African jungle, or even the birth of a new planet in the farthest realms of the universe. All of these things that are taking place at the same time even if they are in various parts of the universe consist of the present in your mind.
Imagine having them in a solitary segment of space time which we will now call the “present portion”. Common sense suggests that everything that happens in a specific present portion is the same for everyone. However, Einstein’s discovery about space time disproves this easily accepted principle when motion through space is also considered.
In order to make it easier to understand, imagine space time as a whole pizza. Einstein learned that you can cut space time in the same manner where a pizza can be cut into various individual portions. This is because the motion through space has an effect in the progression of time. When a person moves, that individual will have a distinct perception of the moment presently taking place. Because of his movement, this person will cut the pizza from a different angle resulting in varying present portions and they will no longer match the same present portions of other people.
Here’s another good example to make the concept of space time. Imagine a flat plane where on one end, John is sitting inside his house. Now, on the other side of that flat plane, Martha is standing still. They may be thousands of miles apart from each other but if both of them are not moving, their clocks move at the same rate as each other. This means they share the same present portion which cuts straight across the pizza.
However, if John begins to slowly walk directly away from Martha, the speed of their clocks will no longer be the same because motion slows down the movement of time. And when this happens, they will no longer be sharing the same present portion with each other. John’s present portion is angled in the direction of the past because the cut has changed. The slow pace of John walking makes it harder to distinguish the small changes in the movement of time.
Nevertheless, the wide distance between John and Martha actually makes the difference in time easier to identify. This means how John perceives the present is no longer the same as how Martha experiences it. This present portion of John could stretch out up to several years back into the past. And if the distance between John and Martha is more than millions of miles apart, the difference in time could extend up to hundreds of years.
Since motion affects the passage of time, according to Albert Einstein, one person moving will have a different conception of what’s happening as time passes by and will not parallel to the time of a person moving in a different direction. To simplify, motion slows down the passage of time at a rate that may not be attuned to another’s. For example, say two person, John and Jeff are sitting together and are not moving a finger. Both their time are attuned with each other.
However, say John wears a jetpack, turns it on and he moved away from the earth. Because he is moving and motion slows the passage of time, John and Jeff’s clocks are no longer attuned with each other and their concept of time are no longer agreeing with either. John, with his jetpack, may disrupt the parallel of time between himself and Jeff but across vast distance, this small discrepancy makes a massive difference in time. Amazingly, what John thinks is happening on earth may no longer include Jeff. This gives the possibility of John going back in time perhaps, 200 years of our history, as he moves away from the earth.
By: Jeffrey Slayter