Inquiring Minds

Questions About Physics

Dear sir,

I am a student of physics. I have heard that scientists are trying to distinguish time as a discrete quantity. Would you give me some detailed information about it? I am very much interested in properties of time. I hope you will be able to help me.

Thank you,
Ravi Kafley

Dear Ravi,

Physicists think of time as the fourth dimension. Three spatial dimensions, one time dimension. They call it space-time. The standard view is that time is continuous, but there might be some scientists that think that time at its core is discrete. I'm not aware of such theories. Beyond the discovery of space-time (special and general relativity are two applications), scientists know very little about time. It's for most part still a very philosophical field.

I recommend you take a look at the September 2002 issue of Scientific American:

Some stories are free of charge, others you need to pay for. Check your local library whether they have a copy of the entire issue. Or you can buy the entire issue on-line.

Kurt Riesselmann
Fermilab Public Affairs

Back to Questions About Physics Main Page

last modified 6/11/2003