Grandview Heights High School and the Reality of Time

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What Is Time?

The combined classes of teachers Jo Lee and Greg Wieland at Grandview Heights High School, in Grandview Heights, OH, did two sessions with Marshall Barnes on the nature of time. The first session dealt with the question of time being real or not, an issue that came out later that month in the next issue of Scientific American. The students, like the ones at Bexley and the Summit Academy in Toledo, also participated in testing the David Eagleman theory on duration dilation and they also determined that Eagelman's experiment was flawed to the point of being inconsequential. It was a surprsing and sobering experience for these young science students, but a lesson well learned. 

Time. What Is It?

Marshall began by asking the students whether they thought time was real or just a creation of Man to measure change by. Some of the students thought that perhaps that was the case. Marshall mentioned that in fact there are a number of scientists who are arguing for a nonexistence for time, an idea that we live in a timeless universe. Marshall said that he would prove later that this was wrong and that in fact there is a time dimension that is connected to space just as Einstein and Minkowski said. First, however, he wanted to the students to understand the difference between real time and our perceptions of time.

Time as we perceive it is subjecvtive. It is psychological. When we are busy having fun, it seems to go by fast. When we are bored or doing some task that we rather not, time seems to drag on and on. However, Marshall explained that that is just our perceptions, and the way to prove it is to take two sets of people, one busy with a game that they enjoy and the other busy doing something boring and tedious. You put a camera hooked up to a video recorder on both groups of people and record their activities. Afterward, you ask them how much time has gone by and the one group will overestimate while the other will underestimate, but you will be able tp see that the exact length of time transpired for both.

Marshall pointed out that our perceptions of time are separate from time itself. For example, duration dilation, the perception of time slowing down during an intense activity, is not the same as time dilation, which is the slowing down of time in a strong gravity field or due to traveling at a high velocity. Time seen from a psychological or even physiological level is not the same as time from a physics point of view. That being said, time then cannot be simply a thing that Man invented. After all, as Marshall pointed out, the universe existed before Man did and it took time for all of the things will see in the universe to come into being as we see them.

So time exists for us biologically, psychologically and physically. It's easy to see how the first two apply, we age, we sense that time flies or drags but how do we know for sure that there is such a thing as the physics of time? That's what Marshall wants to prove and he decided to use the Grandview Heights classes to help him do it. 

As a professional research and development engineer, Marshall is concerned with what is real and what will work. Those are the only two things that matter. He can't design or build something without knowing that the premise that it will be based on is factual. Because his focus is in what is called the advanced concept area, meaning the area that deals with cutting edge and revolutionary breakthroughs, he often has to do the foundational research first because no one else has done it yet.

His main area of fundamental research is the nature of time and proving exactly what time is and how it works. To see how he was able to integrate the Grandview Heights class into his research, go the the next page by clicking the photo below.