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Can we freeze time?

The hourglass: serving the news, serving the reader - Poynter

Sci-fi has many times given us protagonists who can pause time, and this has always seemed so fascinating! But is that really possible? It’s a big no to that!

According to a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology,

“Time is just a label on different parts of the universe. It tells us when something is happening. Many physics equations make little distinction among the past, present, and future.”

According to Einstein’s theory, time is measured by clocks. Because the parts of a clock must move through space, time gets tangled up with space into a larger concept known as space-time that underpins the universe.

If you send a person with a clock on a spaceship at near light speed, time seems to pass more slowly for them than it would for a stationary friend left on Earth. Also, an astronaut falling into a black hole, in which the immense gravity can warp time, might also appear to slow down relative to a distant observer. 

But that’s not really a way to stop time. Two clocks may disagree in relativity, but each will still record the usual passage of time within its own reference frame. Even if you are nearing a black hole, you won’t experience anything different. You would look at your wristwatch, and it would pass at one second per second.

Motion is defined as change with respect to time, so time itself can’t move. In other words, if time stopped, all motion would stop too. If someone were to succeed in stopping time, even light rays would cease to exist.

So, it’s sad news for all dreamers out there who envision a future in which humans have managed to bring time to a halt. It’s never going to happen. 

You see the thing is, stopping time is not a technological difficulty, it’s a physical impossibility.

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