For the concept in physics, see Time in physics. For the magazine, see Time (magazine). For other uses, see Time (disambiguation).
Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future. Time is a component quantity of various measurements used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to quantifyrates of change of quantities in material reality or in the consciousexperience. Time is often referred to as a fourth dimension, along with three spatial dimensions.
Time has long been an important subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars. Nevertheless, diverse fields such as business, industry, sports, the sciences, and the performing arts all incorporate some notion of time into their respective measuring systems.
Two contrasting viewpoints on time divide prominent philosophers. One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe – a dimension independent of events, in which events occur in sequence. Isaac Newton subscribed to this realist view, and hence it is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time. The opposing view is that time does not refer to any kind of "container" that events and objects "move through", nor to any entity that "flows", but that it is instead part of a fundamental intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which humans sequence and compare events. This second view, in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, holds that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be travelled.
Time in physics is unambiguously operationally defined as "what a clock reads". See Units of Time. Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in both the International System of Units and International System of Quantities. Time is used to define other quantities – such as velocity – so defining time in terms of such quantities would result in circularity of definition. An operational definition of time, wherein one says that observing a certain number of repetitions of one or another standard cyclical event (such as the passage of a free-swinging pendulum) constitutes one standard unit such as the second, is highly useful in the conduct of both advanced experiments and everyday affairs of life. The operational definition leaves aside the question whether there is something called time, apart from the counting activity just mentioned, that flows and that can be measured. Investigations of a single continuum called spacetime bring questions about space into questions about time, questions that have their roots in the works of early students of natural philosophy.
Temporal measurement has occupied scientists and technologists, and was a prime motivation in navigation and astronomy. Periodic events and periodic motion have long served as standards for units of time. Examples include the apparent motion of the sun across the sky, the phases of the moon, the swing of a pendulum, and the beat of a heart. Currently, the international unit of time, the second, is defined by measuring the electronic transitionfrequency of caesium atoms (see below). Time is also of significant social importance, having economic value ("time is money") as well as personal value, due to an awareness of the limited time in each day and in human life spans.
Temporal measurement and history
Generally speaking, methods of temporal measurement, or chronometry, take two distinct forms: the calendar, a mathematical tool for organising intervals of time, and the clock, a physical mechanism that counts the passage of time. In day-to-day life, the clock is consulted for periods less than a day whereas the calendar is consulted for periods longer than a day. Increasingly, personal electronic devices display both calendars and clocks simultaneously. The number (as on a clock dial or calendar) that marks the occurrence of a specified event as to hour or date is obtained by counting from a fiducial epoch – a central reference point.
History of the calendar
Main article: Calendar
Artifacts from the Paleolithic suggest that the moon was used to reckon time as early as 6,000 years ago.Lunar calendars were among the first to appear, either 12 or 13 lunar months (either 354 or 384 days). Without intercalation to add days or months to some years, seasons quickly drift in a calendar based solely on twelve lunar months. Lunisolar calendars have a thirteenth month added to some years to make up for the difference between a full year (now known to be about 365.24 days) and a year of just twelve lunar months. The numbers twelve and thirteen came to feature prominently in many cultures, at least partly due to this relationship of months to years. Other early forms of calendars originated in Mesoamerica, particularly in ancient Mayan civilization. These calendars were religiously and astronomically based, with 18 months in a year and 20 days in a month, plus five epagomenal days at the end of the year.
The reforms of Julius Caesar in 45 BC put the Roman world on a solar calendar. This Julian calendar was faulty in that its intercalation still allowed the astronomical solstices and equinoxes to advance against it by about 11 minutes per year. Pope Gregory XIII introduced a correction in 1582; the Gregorian calendar was only slowly adopted by different nations over a period of centuries, but it is now the most commonly used calendar around the world, by far.
During the French Revolution, a new clock and calendar were invented in attempt to de-Christianize time and create a more rational system in order to replace the Gregorian calendar. The French Republican Calendar's days consisted of ten hours of a hundred minutes of a hundred seconds, which marked a deviation from the 12-based duodecimal system used in many other devices by many cultures. The system was later abolished in 1806.
History of time measurement devices
Main article: History of timekeeping devices
See also: Clock
A large variety of devices have been invented to measure time. The study of these devices is called horology.
An Egyptian device that dates to c.1500 BC, similar in shape to a bent T-square, measured the passage of time from the shadow cast by its crossbar on a nonlinear rule. The T was oriented eastward in the mornings. At noon, the device was turned around so that it could cast its shadow in the evening direction.
A sundial uses a gnomon to cast a shadow on a set of markings calibrated to the hour. The position of the shadow marks the hour in local time. The idea to separate the day into smaller parts is credited to Egyptians because of their sundials, which operated on a duodecimal system. The importance of the number 12 is due the number of lunar cycles in a year and the number of stars used to count the passage of night.
The most precise timekeeping device of the ancient world was the water clock, or clepsydra, one of which was found in the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep I (1525–1504 BC). They could be used to measure the hours even at night, but required manual upkeep to replenish the flow of water. The Ancient Greeks and the people from Chaldea (southeastern Mesopotamia) regularly maintained timekeeping records as an essential part of their astronomical observations. Arab inventors and engineers in particular made improvements on the use of water clocks up to the Middle Ages. In the 11th century, Chinese inventors and engineers invented the first mechanical clocks driven by an escapement mechanism.
The hourglass uses the flow of sand to measure the flow of time. They were used in navigation. Ferdinand Magellan used 18 glasses on each ship for his circumnavigation of the globe (1522). Incense sticks and candles were, and are, commonly used to measure time in temples and churches across the globe. Waterclocks, and later, mechanical clocks, were used to mark the events of the abbeys and monasteries of the Middle Ages. Richard of Wallingford (1292–1336), abbot of St. Alban's abbey, famously built a mechanical clock as an astronomical orrery about 1330. Great advances in accurate time-keeping were made by Galileo Galilei and especially Christiaan Huygens with the invention of pendulum driven clocks along with the invention of the minute hand by Jost Burgi.
The English word clock probably comes from the Middle Dutch word klocke which, in turn, derives from the medieval Latin word clocca, which ultimately derives from Celtic and is cognate with French, Latin, and German words that mean bell. The passage of the hours at sea were marked by bells, and denoted the time (see ship's bell). The hours were marked by bells in abbeys as well as at sea.
Clocks can range from watches, to more exotic varieties such as the Clock of the Long Now. They can be driven by a variety of means, including gravity, springs, and various forms of electrical power, and regulated by a variety of means such as a pendulum.
Alarm clocks first appeared in ancient Greece around 250 BC with a water clock that would set off a whistle. This idea was later mechanized by Levi Hutchins and Seth E. Thomas.
A chronometer is a portable timekeeper that meets certain precision standards. Initially, the term was used to refer to the marine chronometer, a timepiece used to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation, a precision firstly achieved by John Harrison. More recently, the term has also been applied to the chronometer watch, a watch that meets precision standards set by the Swiss agency COSC.
The most accurate timekeeping devices are atomic clocks, which are accurate to seconds in many millions of years, and are used to calibrate other clocks and timekeeping instruments. Atomic clocks use the frequency of electronic transitions in certain atoms to measure the second. One of the most common atoms used is caesium, most modern atomic clocks probe caesium with microwaves to determine the frequency of these electron vibrations. Since 1967, the International System of Measurements bases its unit of time, the second, on the properties of caesium atoms. SI defines the second as 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that corresponds to the transition between two electron spin energy levels of the ground state of the 133Cs atom.
Today, the Global Positioning System in coordination with the Network Time Protocol can be used to synchronize timekeeping systems across the globe.
In medieval philosophical writings, the atom was a unit of time referred to as the smallest possible division of time. The earliest known occurrence in English is in Byrhtferth's Enchiridion (a science text) of 1010–1012, where it was defined as 1/564 of a momentum (1½ minutes), and thus equal to 15/94 of a second. It was used in the computus, the process of calculating the date of Easter.
As of May 2010[update], the smallest time interval uncertainty in direct measurements is on the order of 12 attoseconds (1.2 × 10−17 seconds), about 3.7 × 1026Planck times.
Units of time
See also: Time (Orders of magnitude) and Unit of time § List
The second (s) is the SI base unit. A minute (min) is 60 seconds in length, and an hour is 60 minutes in length. A day is 24 hours or 86,400 seconds in length.
Definitions and standards
The Mean Solar Time system defines the second as 1/86,400 of the mean solar day, which is the year-average of the solar day. The solar day is the time interval between two successive solar noons, i.e., the time interval between two successive passages of the Sun across the local meridian. The local meridian is an imaginary line that runs from celestial north pole to celestial south pole passing directly over the head of the observer. At the local meridian the Sun reaches its highest point on its daily arc across the sky.
In 1874 the British Association for the Advancement of Science introduced the CGS (centimetre/gramme/second system) combining fundamental units of length, mass and time. The second is "elastic", because tidal friction is slowing the earth's rotation rate. For use in calculating ephemerides of celestial motion, therefore, in 1952 astronomers introduced the "ephemeris second", currently defined as
the fraction 1/31,556,925.9747 of the tropical year for 1900 January 0 at 12 hours ephemeris time.
The CGS system has been superseded by the Système international. The SI base unit for time is the SI second. The International System of Quantities, which incorporates the SI, also defines larger units of time equal to fixed integer multiples of one second (1 s), such as the minute, hour and day. These are not part of the SI, but may be used alongside the SI. Other units of time such as the month and the year are not equal to fixed multiples of 1 s, and instead exhibit significant variations in duration.
The official SI definition of the second is as follows:
The second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.
At its 1997 meeting, the CIPM affirmed that this definition refers to a caesium atom in its ground state at a temperature of 0 K.
The current definition of the second, coupled with the current definition of the metre, is based on the special theory of relativity, which affirms our spacetime to be a Minkowski space. The definition of the second in mean solar time, however, is unchanged.
While in theory, the concept of a single worldwide universal time-scale may have been conceived of many centuries ago, in practicality the technical ability to create and maintain such a time-scale did not become possible until the mid-19th century. The timescale adopted was Greenwich Mean Time, created in 1847. A few countries have replaced it with Coordinated Universal Time, UTC.
History of the development of UTC
With the advent of the industrial revolution, a greater understanding and agreement on the nature of time itself became increasingly necessary and helpful. In 1847 in Britain, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was first created for use by the British railways, the British navy, and the British shipping industry. Using telescopes, GMT was calibrated to the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in the UK.
As international commerce continued to increase throughout Europe, in order to achieve a more efficiently functioning modern society, an agreed upon, and highly accurate international standard of time measurement became necessary. In order to find or determine such a time-standard, three steps had to be followed:
- An internationally agreed upon time-standard had to be defined.
- This new time-standard then had to be consistently and accurately measured.
- The new time-standard then had to be freely shared and distributed around the world.
The development of what is now known as UTC time came about historically as an effort which first began as a collaboration between 41 nations, officially agreed to and signed at the International Meridian Conference, in Washington D.C. in 1884. At this conference, the local mean solar time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in England was chosen to define the "universal day", counted from 0 hours at Greenwich mean midnight. This agreed with the civil Greenwich Mean Time used on the island of Great Britain since 1847. In contrast astronomical GMT began at mean noon, i.e. astronomical day X began at noon of civil day X. The purpose of this was to keep one night's observations under one date. The civil system was adopted as of 0 hours (civil) 1 January 1925. Nautical GMT began 24 hours before astronomical GMT, at least until 1805 in the Royal Navy, but persisted much later elsewhere because it was mentioned at the 1884 conference. In 1884, the Greenwich meridian was used for two-thirds of all charts and maps as their Prime Meridian.
Among the 41 nations represented at the conference, the advanced time-technologies that had already come into use in Britain were fundamental components of the agreed upon method of arriving at a universal and agreed upon international time. In 1928 Greenwich Mean Time was rebranded for scientific purposes by the International Astronomical Union as Universal Time (UT). This was to avoid confusion with the previous system where the day had begun at noon. As the general public had always begun the day at midnight the timescale continued to be presented to them as Greenwich Mean Time. By 1956, universal time had been split into various versions – UT2, which smoothed for polar motion and seasonal effects, was presented to the public as Greenwich Mean Time. Later, UT1 (which smooths only for polar motion) became the default form of UT used by astronomers and hence the form used in navigation, sunrise and sunset and moonrise and moonset tables where the name Greenwich Mean Time continues to be employed. Greenwich Mean Time is also the preferred method of describing the timescale used by legislators. Even to the present day, UT is still based on an international telescopic system. Observations at the Greenwich Observatory itself ceased in 1954, though the location is still used as the basis for the coordinate system. Because the rotational period of Earth is not perfectly constant, the duration of a second would vary if calibrated to a telescope-based standard like GMT, where the second is defined as 1/86 400 of the mean solar day.
For the better part of the first century following the "International Meridian Conference," until 1960, the methods and definitions of time-keeping that had been laid out at the conference proved to be adequate to meet time tracking needs of science. Still, with the advent of the "electronic revolution" in the latter half of the 20th century, the technologies that had been available at the time of the Convention of the Metre proved to be in need of further refinement in order to meet the needs of the ever-increasing precision that the "electronic revolution" had begun to require.
The ephemeris second
An invariable second (the "ephemeris second") had been defined, use of which removed the errors in ephemerides resulting from the use of the variable mean solar second as the time argument. In 1960 this ephemeris second was made the basis of the "coordinated universal time" which was being derived from atomic clocks. It is a specified fraction of the mean tropical year as at 1900 and, being based on historical telescope observations, corresponds roughly to the mean solar second of the early nineteenth century.
The SI second
In 1967 a further step was taken with the introduction of the SI second, essentially the ephemeris second as measured by atomic clocks and formally defined in atomic terms. The SI second (Standard Internationale second) is based directly on the measurement of the atomic-clock observation of the frequency oscillation of caesium atoms. It is the basis of all atomic timescales, e.g. coordinated universal time, GPS time, International Atomic Time, etc. Atomic clocks do not measure nuclear decay rates, which is a common misconception, but rather measure a certain natural vibrational frequency of caesium-133. Coordinated universal time is subject to one constraint which does not affect the other atomic timescales. As it has been adopted as the civil timescale by some countries (most countries have opted to retain mean solar time) it is not permitted to deviate from GMT by more than 0.9 second. This is achieved by the occasional insertion of a leap second.
Current application of UTC
Most countries use mean solar time. Australia, Canada (Quebec only), Colombia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea (Bougainville only), Paraguay, Portugal, Switzerland, the United States and Venezuela use UTC. However, UTC is widely used by the scientific community in countries where mean solar time is official. UTC time is based on the SI second, which was first defined in 1967, and is based on the use of atomic clocks. Some other less used but closely related time-standards include International Atomic Time (TAI), Terrestrial Time, and Barycentric Dynamical Time.
Between 1967 and 1971, UTC was periodically adjusted by fractional amounts of a second in order to adjust and refine for variations in mean solar time, with which it is aligned. After 1 January 1972, UTC time has been defined as being offset from atomic time by a whole number of seconds, changing only when a leap second is added to keep radio-controlled clocks synchronized with the rotation of the Earth.
The Global Positioning System also broadcasts a very precise time signal worldwide, along with instructions for converting GPS time to UTC. GPS-time is based on, and regularly synchronized with or from, UTC-time.
Earth is split up into a number of time zones. Most time zones are exactly one hour apart, and by convention compute their local time as an offset from GMT. For example, time zones at sea are based on GMT. In many locations (but not at sea) these offsets vary twice yearly due to daylight saving time transitions.
These conversions are accurate at the millisecond level for time systems involving earth rotation (UT1 & TT). Conversions between atomic time systems (TAI, GPS, and UTC) are accurate at the microsecond level.
|UT1||Mean Solar Time||UT1||UTC = UT1 - DUT1||TT = UT1 + 32.184 s + LS - DUT1||TAI = UT1 - DUT1 + LS||GPS = UT1 - DUT1 + LS - 19 s|
|UTC||Civil Time||UT1 = UTC + DUT1||UTC||TT = UTC + 32.184 s + LS||TAI = UTC + LS||GPS = UTC + LS - 19 s|
|TT||Terrestrial (Ephemeris) Time||UT1 = TT - 32.184 s - LS + DUT1||UTC = TT - 32.184 s - LS||TT||TAI = TT - 32.184 s||GPS = TT - 51.184 s|
|TAI||Atomic Time||UT1 = TAI + DUT1 - LS||UTC = TAI - LS||TT = TAI + 32.184 s||TAI||GPS = TAI - 19 s|
|GPS||GPS Time||UT1 = GPS + DUT1 - LS + 19 s||UTC = GPS - LS + 19 s||TT = GPS + 51.184 s||TAI = GPS + 19 s||GPS|
- LS = TAI - UTC = Leap Seconds from http://maia.usno.navy.mil/ser7/tai-utc.dat
- DUT1 = UT1 - UTC from http://maia.usno.navy.mil/ser7/ser7.dat or http://maia.usno.navy.mil/search/search.html
Sidereal time is the measurement of time relative to a distant star (instead of solar time that is relative to the sun). It is used in astronomy to predict when a star will be overhead. Due to the orbit of the earth around the sun a sidereal day is about 4 minutes (1/366th) less than a solar day.
Main article: Chronology
Another form of time measurement consists of studying the past. Events in the past can be ordered in a sequence (creating a chronology), and can be put into chronological groups (periodization). One of the most important systems of periodization is the geologic time scale, which is a system of periodizing the events that shaped the Earth and its life. Chronology, periodization, and interpretation of the past are together known as the study of history.
Time-like concepts: terminology
The term "time" is generally used for many close but different concepts, including:
- instant as an object – one point on the time axes. Being an object, it has no value;
- time interval as an object – part of the time axes limited by two instants. Being an object, it has no value;
- date as a quantity characterising an instant. As a quantity, it has a value which may be expressed in a variety of ways, for example "2014-04-26T09:42:36,75" in ISO standard format, or more colloquially such as "today, 9:42 a.m.";
- duration as a quantity characterizing a time interval. As a quantity, it has a value, such as a number of minutes, or may be described in terms of the quantities (such as times and dates) of its beginning and end.
Further information: Time and fate deities
Linear and cyclical time
See also: Time cycles and Wheel of time
Ancient cultures such as Incan, Mayan, Hopi, and other Native American Tribes – plus the Babylonians, Ancient Greeks, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and others – have a concept of a wheel of time: they regard time as cyclical and quantic,[clarification needed] consisting of repeating ages that happen to every being of the Universe between birth and extinction.
In general, the Islamic and Judeo-Christian world-view regards time as linear and directional, beginning with the act of creation by God. The traditional Christian view sees time ending, teleologically, with the eschatological end of the present order of things, the "end time".
In the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes, traditionally ascribed to Solomon (970–928 BC), time (as the Hebrew word עידן, זמן `iddan(age, as in "Ice age") zĕman(time) is often translated) was traditionally regarded[by whom?] as a medium for the passage of predestined events. (Another word, زمان" זמן" zamān, meant time fit for an event, and is used as the modern Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew equivalent to the English word "time".)
Time in Greek mythology
The Greek language denotes two distinct principles, Chronos and Kairos. The former refers to numeric, or chronological, time. The latter, literally "the right or opportune moment", relates specifically to metaphysical or Divine time. In theology, Kairos is qualitative, as opposed to quantitative.
In Greek mythology, Chronos (Ancient Greek: Χρόνος) is identified as the Personification of Time. His name in Greek means "time" and is alternatively spelled Chronus (Latin spelling) or Khronos. Chronos is usually portrayed as an old, wise man with a long, gray beard, such as "Father Time". Some English words whose etymological root is khronos/chronos include chronology, chronometer, chronic, anachronism, synchronise, and chronicle.
Time in Kabbalah
According to Kabbalists, "time" is a paradox and an illusion. Both the future and the past are recognised to be combined and simultaneously present.
Main articles: Philosophy of space and time and Temporal finitism
Two distinct viewpoints on time divide many prominent philosophers. One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence. Sir Isaac Newton subscribed to this realist view, and hence it is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time. An opposing view is that time does not refer to any kind of actually existing dimension that events and objects "move through", nor to any entity that "flows", but that it is instead an intellectual concept (together with space and number) that enables humans to sequence and compare events. This second view, in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, holds that space and time "do not exist in and of themselves, but ... are the product of the way we represent things", because we can know objects only as they appear to us.
Furthermore, it may be that there is a subjective component to time, but whether or not time itself is "felt", as a sensation, or is a judgment, is a matter of debate.
The Vedas, the earliest texts on Indian philosophy and Hindu philosophy dating back to the late 2nd millennium BC, describe ancient Hindu cosmology, in which the universe goes through repeated cycles of creation, destruction and rebirth, with each cycle lasting 4,320 million years.AncientGreek philosophers, including Parmenides and Heraclitus, wrote essays on the nature of time.Plato, in the Timaeus, identified time with the period of motion of the heavenly bodies. Aristotle, in Book IV of his Physica defined time as 'number of movement in respect of the before and after'.
In Book 11 of his Confessions, St. Augustine of Hippo ruminates on the nature of time, asking, "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it to one that asketh, I know not." He begins to define time by what it is not rather than what it is, an approach similar to that taken in other negative definitions. However, Augustine ends up calling time a "distention" of the mind (Confessions 11.26) by which we simultaneously grasp the past in memory, the present by attention, and the future by expectation.
In contrast to ancient Greek philosophers who believed that the universe had an infinite past with no beginning, medieval philosophers and theologians developed the concept of the universe having a finite past with a beginning. This view is shared by Abrahamic faiths as they believe time started by creation, therefore the only thing being infinite is God and everything else, including time, is finite.
Isaac Newton believed in absolute space and absolute time; Leibniz believed that time and space are relational. The differences between Leibniz's and Newton's interpretations came to a head in the famous Leibniz–Clarke correspondence.
Time is not an empirical concept. For neither co-existence nor succession would be perceived by us, if the representation of time did not exist as a foundation a priori. Without this presupposition we could not represent to ourselves that things exist together at one and the same time, or at different times, that is, contemporaneously, or in succession.
Immanuel Kant, in the Critique of Pure Reason, described time as an a priori intuition that allows us (together with the other a priori intuition, space) to comprehend sense experience. With Kant, neither space nor time are conceived as substances, but rather both are elements of a systematic mental framework that necessarily structures the experiences of any rational agent, or observing subject. Kant thought of time as a fundamental part of an abstract conceptual framework, together with space and number, within which we sequence events, quantify their duration, and compare the motions of objects. In this view, time does not refer to any kind of entity that "flows," that objects "move through," or that is a "container" for events. Spatial measurements are used to quantify the extent of and distances between objects, and temporal measurements are used to quantify the durations of and between events. Time was designated by Kant as the purest possible schema of a pure concept or category.
Henri Bergson believed that time was neither a real homogeneous medium nor a mental construct, but possesses what he referred to as Duration. Duration, in Bergson's view, was creativity and memory as an essential component of reality.
According to Martin Heidegger we do not exist inside time, we are time. Hence, the relationship to the past is a present awareness of having been, which allows the past to exist in the present. The relationship to the future is the state of anticipating a potential possibility, task, or engagement. It is related to the human propensity for caring and being concerned, which causes "being ahead of oneself" when thinking of a pending occurrence. Therefore, this concern for a potential occurrence also allows the future to exist in the present. The present becomes an experience, which is qualitative instead of quantitative. Heidegger seems to think this is the way that a linear relationship with time, or temporal existence, is broken or transcended. We are not stuck in sequential time. We are able to remember the past and project into the future – we have a kind of random access to our representation of temporal existence; we can, in our thoughts, step out of (ecstasis) sequential time.
Time as "unreal"
In 5th century BC Greece, Antiphon the Sophist, in a fragment preserved from his chief work On Truth, held that: "Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron)."Parmenides went further, maintaining that time, motion, and change were illusions, leading to the paradoxes of his follower Zeno. Time as an illusion is also a common theme in Buddhist thought.
J. M. E. McTaggart's 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea (see also The flow of time).
These arguments often center on what it means for something to be unreal. Modern physicists generally believe that time is as real as space – though others, such as Julian Barbour in his book The End of Time, argue that quantum equations of the universe take their true form when expressed in the timeless realm containing every possible now or momentary configuration of the universe, called 'platonia' by Barbour.
A modern philosophical theory called presentism views the past and the future as human-mind interpretations of movement instead of real parts of time (or "dimensions") which coexist with the present. This theory rejects the existence of all direct interaction with the past or the future, holding only the present as tangible. This is one of the philosophical arguments against time travel. This contrasts with eternalism (all time: present, past and future, is real) and the growing block theory (the present and the past are real, but the future is not).
Eight Steps Towards a Better Scholarship Essay
Writing a scholarship essay can be very difficult – especially if you want to do it well. Your essay will need to wow the reader, and speak directly to the goals of that organization, as well as the objectives of that award. If done properly, you will very rarely be able to submit the same application to multiple awards – it is not a one-size-fits-all; most essays will need to be tweaked or completely altered to show the reader that you are deserving of the award above and beyond any of the other participant who also applied.
Read on to find eight steps to help you write a better scholarship essay so that you can get the money you need to fund your international education.
Step 1: Read the Essay Prompt Thoroughly
Many schools and other organizations that give out scholarships will give you a "prompt" or a question which the essay is supposed to address. Read the question or prompt carefully and try to "read between the lines." For example, the prompt you are to answer might be, "Describe a book that made a lasting impression on you and your life and why?" Ask yourself, "Are they really interested in my literary preferences or is there something more to this question?" More than likely, they want to get a better idea of who you are—not only what types of books you like but also what motivates you and what sorts of stories or topics interest you. They may also be interested in getting a sense for how promising a student you are based on the type of book you choose and what you have to say about it.
Tip: Always keep in mind that any scholarship essay question, no matter the topic, should demonstrate your interests, your background, and most importantly, highlight the experiences you've had that fit with the goals and mission of the funding organization.
Instead of being given a prompt, you might be asked to write an essay on the topic of your choosing. Although challenging, this is also an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity. Finally, if anything about the directions aren't clear, don't be afraid to contact someone at the funding organization and ask for clarification.
Step 2: Make a List of Important Points and Keywords to Include
Looking for sample essays?
Check out our Sample Essay section where you can see scholarship essays, admissions essays, and more!
Regardless of the essay prompt, you will want to make sure to include the important and relevant information about your experiences and background that makes you an ideal candidate for the scholarship award. To complete this step, it can be helpful to first research the organization to which you're applying and try to find their mission statement on their website. Circle a few key words from the mission statement and make sure to include those buzzwords in your essay.
Scholarship committees are not only looking for good students, they are often looking for a person that fits their organizational goals. You should gather your other application materials such as transcripts and resumes so you can review your qualifications as well as make note of what is missing in these materials that needs to be included in the essay.
For example, if you're applying for a general academic scholarship, you might want to talk about a specific class you took that really piqued your interest or inspired your current academic and career goals. The committee will see the list of the classes that you took on your transcript but they won't know how a particular class inspired you unless you tell them. The essay is the best place to do this. Your list of important points to make might also include:
- Any academic awards or other honors you've won.
- Any AP or college-level courses you took in high school.
- Any outside courses, internships, or other academic experiences that won't necessarily appear on your transcript.
- Why your experience and the mission of the funding organization match.
- What you plan to major in during college and how you think that major will be useful to your future career goals.
- Any special training or knowledge you have, or a project you completed in school or as an extracurricular activity.
- An example of how you overcame a challenge.
- Your financial circumstances that makes it necessary for you to finance your studies through scholarship money.
The challenge now is to integrate those points that you want the committee to know with an essay that answers the prompt. You can see our example scholarship essays to get a better idea of how to do this.
Step 3: Write an Outline or a Rough Draft
Not everyone likes to make an outline before they begin writing, but in this case it can be very helpful. You can start with your list of important points to begin writing the outline. For many, telling a story is the easiest and most effective way to write a scholarship essay. You can tell the story of how you found your favorite book, and how it has changed and inspired you. Start with large headings in your outline that describes the basic storyline. For example:
- High school composition teacher recommended book
- Read it over one weekend
- Made me see the world around me differently
- Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice
Now you can start filling in the subheadings with points from your previous list:
- High school composition teacher recommended book
- Favorite class in high school
- Class opened my eyes to new ways of thinking
- Teacher noticed my enthusiasm—recommended outside reading
- Read it over one weekend
- Was the first time I was so drawn in by a book, I read it very quickly
- I realized my academic potential beyond getting good grades
- Made me see the world around me differently
- Started to look for jobs in social justice
- Interned for a summer at a law firm doing pro bono work for the poor
- This was a big challenge because I realized you can't help everyone and resources are limited
- Overcame this challenge by knowing that small change can be big, and working hard in a field you are passionate about will inspire you everyday
- Inspired me to pursue a career in social justice
- The book is a constant source of inspiration and will keep me motivated as I pursue my career
- The book will always remind me how people with limited financial resources can still make a huge difference in others' lives
Step 4: Write a Strong Statement that Summarizes Your Points
You will want to include one strong thesis statement that summarizes all the major points you will make in your essay. It is often easy to start writing with this simple statement. Your essay doesn't have to begin or end with the thesis statement, but it should appear somewhere in order to tie all the individual sections together.
For example, your thesis statement might be, "You will find that various experiences from both my academic career and my personal life align very well with your organization's mission: shaping community leaders who are working towards a more just and sustainable world." Starting with this sentence can help you organize your thoughts and main points, and provide you with a direction for your essay. When you've finished your essay, be sure to reflect back on your thesis statement and ask yourself, "Does this essay further explain and support my thesis statement?"
Step 5: Fill in the Missing Parts
Now that you have a thesis statement, an outline, and a list of important points to include, you can begin to fill in the missing parts of your story. The first sentence is particularly important: it should capture the attention of the reader, and motivate him or her to continue reading. We recommend starting your story by painting a vivid picture of an experience about which you will be talking in the essay.
For example: "It is 6 am on a hot day in July, I've already showered and I'm eating breakfast. My classmates are all sleeping in and the sun has yet to awaken, but I'm ready to seize the day, as I couldn't imagine spending my summer any other way but interning at a local law firm that specializes in representing the poor. I work a typical 8-5 day during my summer vacation and nothing has made me happier. But I wouldn't be here if it weren't for one particularly savvy teacher and a little book she gave me to read outside of class."
Step 6: Rewrite, Revise, Rewrite
A good writer rewrites and revises his or her work many, many times. After getting a first draft on paper, take a day or two away from the essay and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Make appropriate edits for content, and pay attention to proper spelling and grammar. If need be, you might want to write an entirely new draft and then integrate the best of both into a final draft. Writing a new draft can inspire you to think of new ideas or a better way to tell your story. Some other tips to think about as you rewrite and revise:
- Make sure it sounds like your voice. You want the scholarship committee to feel like they are getting to know you. If you don't sound authentic, the committee will know. It is better to be yourself than to say what you think the committee wants to hear.
- Strike a balance between modesty and arrogance. You should be proud of your accomplishments, but you don't want to sound arrogant. Don't exaggerate a story; instead be clear about what you did and the impact it had and let that speak for itself.
- Check to make sure you are answering the prompt and fulfilling all other requirements of the essay as directed by the committee, such as font preference and word count limits.
- Don't just list your accomplishments; describe them in detail and also tell the reader how you felt during these experiences.
- A scholarship essay is not a dissertation. You don't need to impress the committee with big words, especially if you're not completely clear if you're using them correctly. Simplicity and clarity should be the goals.
- Make sure your essay will be read from the beginning to the end. Committee members won't dedicate much time to reading the essay, so you need to make sure they are given motivation to read the entire thing. If you are telling a story, don't reveal the end of the story until the end.
- Check to make sure the buzzwords from the mission statement appear. It is easy to forget the scholarship committee's goals as you write. Return to their mission statement and look for spots to place keywords from the statement. Be sure, however, that you're not copying the mission statement word-for-word.
Step 7: Have someone else read your essay
Ideally, you could give your essay to a teacher or college admissions counselor who is familiar with scholarship essays and the college admission process. If such a person is not available, virtually anyone with good reading and writing skills can help make your essay better. When your editor is done reading and you've looked over his or her notes, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Was the story interesting and did it hold your attention?
- Were there any parts that were confusing?
- Did you find any spelling or grammar errors?
- Does the essay sound like my voice?
- Does the essay respond appropriately to the prompt?
- Is there anything you would have done differently or something you thought was missing?
After having an editor (or two or three) look over your draft, it is time again to revise and rewrite.
Step 8: Refine the Final Draft
Once you feel satisfied with the draft, review it one more time and pay particular attention to structure, spelling, grammar, and whether you fulfilled all the required points dictated by the committee. If you are over the required word count, you will need to make edits so that you are within the limit. If you are significantly under the word count, consider adding a supporting paragraph.
Essay Writing Center
Misconception: No one actually reads your scholarship essay! – Wrong!
Fact: Your essay is the key to your scholarship application. It is an opportunity to demonstrate to the selection committee that you are a well-rounded individual, that you are more than your GPA, that you are a strong writer, and it gives you a chance to talk about your experiences and qualifications in greater detail than what appears on your resume or transcripts.