The Daily "140" Insight: Arthur C Clarke
The Daily "140" Insight

Is Time Disappearing from the Universe? (A Weekend Feature)


Remember a little thing called the space-time continuum? Well what if the time part of the equation was literally running out? New evidence is suggesting that time is slowly disappearing from our universe, and will one day vanish completely. This radical theory may explain a cosmological mystery that has baffled scientists for years.

Scientists previously have measured the light from distant exploding stars to show that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. They assumed that these supernovae are spreading apart faster as the universe ages. Physicists also assumed that a kind of anti-gravitational force must be driving the galaxies apart, and started to call this unidentified force "dark energy".

The idea that time itself could cease to be in billions of years - and everything will grind to a halt - has been proposed by Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain. The corollary to this radical end to time itself is an alternative explanation for "dark energy" - the mysterious antigravitational force that has been suggested to explain a cosmic phenomenon that has baffled scientists.

However, to this day no one actually knows what dark energy is, or where it comes from. Professor Senovilla, and colleagues have proposed a mind-bending alternative. They propose that there is no such thing as dark energy at all, and we’re looking at things backwards. Senovilla proposes that we have been fooled into thinking the expansion of the universe is accelerating, when in reality, time itself is slowing down. At an everyday level, the change would not be perceptible. However, it would be obvious from cosmic scale measurements tracking the course of the universe over billions of years. The change would be infinitesimally slow from a human perspective, but in terms of the vast perspective of cosmology, the study of ancient light from suns that shone billions of years ago, it could easily be measured

The team's proposal, published in the journal Physical Review D, dismisses dark energy as fiction. Instead, Senovilla says, the appearance of acceleration is caused by time itself gradually slowing down, like a clock with a run-down battery.

“We do not say that the expansion of the universe itself is an illusion," he explains. "What we say it may be an illusion is the acceleration of this expansion - that is, the possibility that the expansion is, and has been, increasing its rate."

If time gradually slows "but we naively kept using our equations to derive the changes of the expansion with respect of 'a standard flow of time', then the simple models that we have constructed in our paper show that an "effective accelerated rate of the expansion" takes place."

Currently, astronomers are able to discern the expansion speed of the universe using the so-called "red shift" technique. This technique relies on the understanding that stars moving away appear redder in color than ones moving towards us. Scientists look for supernovae of certain types that provide a sort of benchmark. However, the accuracy of these measurements depends on time remaining invariable throughout the universe. If time is slowing down, according to this new theory, our solitary time dimension is slowly turning into a new space dimension. Therefore the far-distant, ancient stars seen by cosmologists would from our perspective, look as though they were accelerating.

"Our calculations show that we would think that the expansion of the universe is accelerating," says Prof Senovilla. The theory bases it’s idea on one particular variant of superstring theory, in which our universe is confined to the surface of a membrane, or brane, floating in a higher-dimensional space, known as the "bulk". In billions of years, time would cease to be time altogether.

"Then everything will be frozen, like a snapshot of one instant, forever," Senovilla told New Scientist magazine. "Our planet will be long gone by then."

Though radical and in many way unprecedented, these ideas are not without support. Gary Gibbons, a cosmologist at Cambridge University, say the concept has merit. "We believe that time emerged during the Big Bang, and if time can emerge, it can also disappear - that's just the reverse effect."

Posted by Rebecca Sato and Casey Kazan.



Time is the “secret” to the universe. Fully understand time and you will understand the universe. Time is more than just the fourth dimension; time and space are inseparably equivalent much like gravitational force and acceleration.

Everyone is forgetting the 5th dimension - My Ass
It seems a lot of this drivel came from it

so in a sense, time itself is mixing together with the changing of gases and galaxies but yet slowing down as everything does. but hard for us to see it but is there through billions of years. Where is time going then if its slowing down? its hard trying to piece this together as a reality perspective. it like the universe is evolving itself as a whole let alone planets and species. but this makes sense. but you've almost got to think about this one for a while till it makes more sense.

Maybe where some see gravity leaking from a parallel dimension into our universe, our time is leaking into theirs.

So when our universe runs out of time, it *really* runs out of time!

Last week I stopped time for 500 years. No one seemed to notice.

As in any explosion or Bang, the particles generated by same come to a stop wherever inertia or gravity takes them; and never return to their origin. This is a universal law, confirmed by all of the observable explosions in the visible universe. Time isn´t influenced by any force, but the speed of movement, relative to..... Anyway, how can any scientific prognosis concerning an N´billion time-scape, that can´t even be applied to human existence, be proved?

Am still human and pragmatic, so couldn´t resist an intellectual challenge.

Well,,, go ahead expand, contract, stop, slow down, go backwards let the universe do what ever it wants. The reality of the matter is that time is a concept of "measurement" developed by mankind.
Time is not an object. To say "Time is disappearing from the Universe" is like saying my tape measure is broken or the numbers fell off of my ruler. Even if the planets and all of the Universe come to a halt your Timex watch can still keep on ticking as long as you dont forget to wind it. You can start measuring time from the point when everything stopped moving, or the time from when you last washed your car. Even after the last human vanishes from the planet there will be a nuclear clock somewhere in bunker dividing up the microseconds until some alien race lands here and digs up what we left behind, including our concept of time.

Assuming that the concept of time relativity is more or less correct, and judging by the evidence, it is, then your suggestion that time is merely an arbritrary human-derived method of separating events is a pile of w**k.

Is it possible that the speed of light itself is not constant, but has been decreasing as the universe cools? That would mess with our measuring tapes. I know: stupid conjecture, TA.

Time - if it exists at all - might depend on a certain amount of "local" mass (spacial regions millions if light years in diameter) to exert influence. The mass would provide the energy necessary to provide direct, or to clock forward as time. As the Universe expands, maybe this mass slowly depletes and time, in turn, slowly loses the connections with this mass required to exist. So time would slow down over a period of many billions of years. My 2 cents.

Does this mean my mother-in-law will be coming over more often, or less?

Must have been global warming

Time slowing? Relative to what? As measured in seconds per what?

As Douglas Adams said 'Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so'.

Best replies ever for a DG "story"!!!!!

I was think that with black holes and their massive gravity well that that is causing time to slow. Like einstein said, that time slows down with more mass. with black holes getting bigger and bigger that maybe they are causing time to slow down in a sense. Or on a universal scale. But the slowing process is what is giving matter to take shape. like black holes are the creators of matter. Just an idea of trying to piece it all together. This story makes sense though.

No sweat. In local time the last moment of the Universe will last an eternity.

If the 4th dimension is time then it has no substance, unless you count duration. That said, the 3rd, unlike the first 2, has substance, but only at the instant of observation since it has no duration of its own. That we do can only mean that we (life, our universe and everything...), must exist in a rift between the 3rd and 4th with properties of both. Tangible substance with duration. Matter and energy. So, does this mean that we as observers are giving some of our energy to that which we observe, giving it duration, and thereby supporting Heisenberg's... observation(!)? As well as string theory which has it that all is energy, just in different forms. So we're actually giving a little of ourselves to our observations. If time is slowing, draining, etc., i.e. energy is waning - universally - then our clocks as measurers of time would also be slowing as their own energy wanes correspondingly. And like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, if there is no sound energy present without observers, are we - with the fading of time - in fact slowing to a gradual state of stasis, a form of motionless strings, or gradually into nothingness, since as energy ourselves, we too would eventually drain away...

"we too" are going to drain away a lot sooner than that. ;)

They have this concept backwards, expansion will increase space time and reduce the effect of gravity, this will lead to more expansion of space and more clustering of mass in the Universe.

Dark energy does not expand dark matter galaxy halos, but only the visible normal matter of galaxies. There is no universal time or now to be slowed down, because moving at the speed of light towards a distant massive redshifted object eg quasar would blueshift the light. this slowing down of the experience of time passage by travel into the future is living in slow motion observation to others but moving at near light speed. For time to be slowing in the universe, it must be speeding up someplace else!

Gary Gibbons, the Cosmologist says that time came about (emerged), his own words during The Big Bang, etc.,
What is his or the proof that time actually was born/emerged during The Bing Bang, etc.,?
That's crap,
He doesn't know, he and others are ONLY speculating, they are really guessing, so what is this B. S. for?

If the universe is expanding exponentially (just to hop back onto the bandwagon to Makey-senseville), surely from every point in space, every other point in space would appear to slow down in time locally anyway as they approach the speed of light in relation to each other. Finally, matter moving at the speed of light would gain infinite mass and time would cease to affect it?

Just a silly idea.

Silly speculation good.

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