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What is Time?
The Big Bang
Early Universe
Life and Death of Stars
Galaxy Formation
The Solar System
Exotic objects
End of the Universe
Who created the universe?
What is Time?
Life beyond Earth
NASA Missions
Particle Map
Glossary
Sources
The Arrow of time (Entropy)
What is time? No one has adequately defined time, but there is an idea that seeks to explain how time operates in reality. It is called "the arrow of time". It works like this: At the moment of the Big Bang, we think there was perfect order and simplicity. The Universe had not formed yet and there was only a single infinitessimally small point of intense heat and energy, the original singularity, but no matter. Because there was only one simple entity, the original singularity, there could have been no disorder. If you have one apple and nothing else, there can be no disorder; one apple can not be out of order with itself. The same holds true for the original singularity; as it was the solitary "thing" in existence, it, like the single apple, must be in a perfect state or order.

Then, in an indivisibly brief instant of time, the singularity became an ever inflating Universe, continually becoming more complex as the inflation proceeded "forward", like a balloon being inflated. As complexity increased, disorder was born and began increasing along with the ever-increasing complexity of the Universe. The perpetual inflation of the universe and its corresponding increase in complexity resulted in the universe we know and experience today. Eventually, galaxies, stars and planets came into existence and they each, in turn, evolved into its own rich complex of objects, materials, forms of life and, ultimately, us. What is to come after us is an open question, but there is no reason to doubt that life will continue to evolve and some even more complex and advanced life form will occupy the top slot on the tree of life, making us subservient to the newly evolved "top of the food chain".

We are all aware of the effect that time has on our personal reality. Events proceed in an orderly fashion in a forward direction. If we fry an egg, we first crack the egg into a frying pan, turn up the heat, wait 3 minutes and our egg is ready to eat. It has changed, however. The shell is now broken and empty and the egg which, in the pan, was a thick liquid with a separate unbroken yolk has become pleasantly hardened, has changed color and has become opaque and edible. If the eggs are scrambled, the yolk and the white are thouroughly mixed together. There is no "back" switch in nature; we can never see a natural process such as the scrambling of an egg reverse itself and occur in the backward direction. We will never see a lovely and delicious scrambled egg uncook itself back to a raw, liquid state with a separate unbroken yolk and return back to the unbroken shell, the pan clean itself and show no signs of cooking an egg. Time only progresses in a forward direction, "the arrow of time" and we can not uncook an egg.

A new question arises out of the entropy concept. How can we explain the fact that chemical reactions can be reversed and run backwards?

We can travel in space, (the spatial dimensions), why not time, as well?

Do past, present and future coexist?

Is time a continuous stream moving in one direction from the past, through the present, and into the future?

Is the passage of time a manifestation of the tendency of the universe to evolve from the ultimate order of the original singularity into entropy, the infinite chaos of the future?