Suppose you have nothing, but only a thing X which doesn't change at all, is there time? How would you say how many seconds/units of time have passed when there is only the thing X i.e. static too, and not any reference (like speed of light is constant/cesium atom) or any universal clock or absolute time-line. So would time be fundamental in such a scenario, or rather time doesn't seem to make sense without any sort of change then, or does it make sense without any change at all?

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    The concept of time wouldn't make sense in such a situation as there is nothing that changes. However either the object is an observer or has an observer and the interplay of subject and object can make time and space become useful categories again.
    – haxor789
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 12:26
  • For something to exist, it must exist in someone's mind. You are formulating an scenario where there's only an object, and no subject. Then, there is no observer. Then, there is no observed. Such is an impossible scenario, you are speculating about something that is not perceived. Even more, you are trying to speculate about the scenario, the spacetime when/where such object... can't exist.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 16:50
  • @RodolfoAP Your statement, "For something to exist, it must exist in someone's mind," goes towards idealism. However, a realism point of view might challenge it. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 17:25
  • @SiddharthChakravarty without an observer (realism: time would exist without any perceiver), the system is sustained by a circular logic. A "realist" clock would provide a "realist" time that would be such thing only in virtue of such very clock.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 18:06
  • @RodolfoAP so that would just imply that time is 'how much change occurs in that clock', without the existence of such a clock, time ceases to exist, which shows that time doesn't exist in every scenario, that is what the question asks in a way... Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 18:19

3 Answers 3


How could you know? Serious question.

We think the universe began as 'one thing', a singularity or very close to one, at a quantum scale. So in a very real sense, all being and time are happening to 'one thing'.

And just like you can get particle-antiparticle pairs from 'empty' space, we think all particles had an antiparticle in their past in order to balance the quantum 'budget', but the antiparticles decayed or were consumed by a CPT-violating process. That is matter, any matter, is involved in a long story that relates it to the whole universe (Conformal Cyclic Cosmology relates this to all matter decaying to photons, which don't experience time because of lightspeed). Even once created, properties like angular momentum are related to the universe's rest frame.

Quantum properties are really properties of systems isolated from the environment, over some time scale. When there is no way for the universe to keep track of them, their conjugated variables like position and momentum become uncertain (mass-energy will be having gravitational effects, putting a constraint on that).

I'd suggest the only possible isolated 'thing' wouod have such massive uncertainty it could be anything:

'In the begin there was nothing, which had no way to tell what was there, so it exploded'.

  • The question goes beyond the scope of your answer, it isn't just restricted under the 'modern physics view' Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 13:57

The answer to this question does not come under mere physics. Since change happens while thinking, I wouldn’t like to use even the term ‘get an answer’. In this case I would like to use the term ‘reveal the answer’. If you believe or not, that there is nothing else anywhere, time [as we feel (also in any form) by comparing changes] can’t exist. The one without a second or the Ultimate truth or Pure Consciousness or Brahman is that only thing. We feel that everything else is made of tiniest particles and is always changing.

  • I am not sure exactly I get what you mean, could you please be more clear, in the past, I tried watching a lot of resources to discover or realize Brahman, but all of them somewhere had a lot of questions unanswered. Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 14:25
  • @SiddharthChakravarty: You will certainly have heard the Mahavakya ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. This implies the real nature of oneself is Brahman (the One without a second). And the realization is not from outside. Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 1:42
  • what I'm asking is how does one prove, or rather justify that there is Brahman. Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 9:00
  • @SiddharthChakravarty: You can check the terms - 'the one without a second', 'pure', 'consciousness', 'proof' and think about who and how we can synchronise these terms and get proof like we get from experiments or analysis or other methods. In other words, 'Is it possible to get a proof like other proofs?' Or you can ask yourself this question: "Is a proof of something without a second the same as a regular proof?" Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 13:17
  • can you just me a clear answer, how did you prove or realize Brahman? Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 20:09

According to modern physics, every object in the Universe exists in a 4d volume we call spacetime. Your hypothetical unchanging 'thing' would, assuming it is part of the Universe, follow a trajectory in spacetime as much as any other object would. From moment to moment the object itself might be unchanged but its position in spacetime would not be. Time would be unmeasurable without change, but it would be mistake to conclude there is 'no time' simply because you cannot measure it.

You say in your comments that the question 'isn't just restricted under the modern physics view.' If you are ignoring physics then you are entering the realm of imagination, and therefore you can imagine the object in any other universe with any other properties you care to give to it. For example, you might imagine a universe with only two spatial dimensions. You can try to imagine a universe with or without time, but I put it to you that it is the properties of the imaginary universe that determine whether time exists, not the properties of an object within that universe, since we know that in our universe time exists regardless of whether the objects we contemplate are unchanging.

However, I also suggest that it is not possible to maintain a meaningful concept of a universe without time, for when you say that an object exists or is unchanging you are inevitably confronted by temporal considerations. If I ask you to define what you mean by 'exists' you will eventually have to recognise that the word implies an aspect of persistence, which unavoidably relies on a concept of time. Likewise if I push you to explain what you mean by 'unchanging', you will eventually have to use phrases such as 'never changes' or 'is always the same' which again invoke the idea of time.

  • The answer provided is correct in the context of modern physics and the concept of spacetime. However, given what the question is, you can deduce that the question suggests to not go with such an assumption of the thing existing in such a universe based on the model of modern physics. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 12:23
  • However, looking at the contrast between the question and this answer, time would then not be fundamental or rather existing in every scenario, and only exist or be emergent in certain scenarios only. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 12:28
  • @SiddharthChakravarty in that case the question is a fairytale and can have any answer you like. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 12:36
  • how does it necessarily become a fairytale? The conditions are well-specified... someone talking about relative time during Newton's era would sound fairytale too then I guess. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 12:39
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    You might find it helpful (I do) when considering questions about time to bear in mind the analogy with space. If you imagine an isolated unchanging particle, does space exist? You have no way of measuring space in that scenario, but does that mean space does not exist? Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 12:49

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