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(Phys.org)—Although in theory it may seem possible to divide time up into infinitely tiny intervals, the smallest physically meaningful interval of time is widely considered to be the Planck time, which is approximately 10-43 seconds. This ultimate limit means that it is not possible for two events to be separated by a time smaller than this.
But now in a new paper, physicists have proposed that the shortest physically meaningful length of time may actually be several orders of magnitude longer than the Planck time.
The researchers, Mir Faizal at the University of Waterloo and University of Lethbridge in Canada, Mohammed M. Khalil at Alexandria University in Egypt, and Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge, have recently published a paper called "Time crystals from minimum time uncertainty" in The European Physical Journal C.
"It might be possible that, in the universe, the minimum time scale is actually much larger than the Planck time, and this can be directly tested experimentally," Faizal told Phys.org.
The argument that time is discrete suggests that our perception of time as something that is continuously flowing is just an illusion.
"The physical universe is really like a movie/motion picture, in which a series of still images shown on a screen creates the illusion of moving images," Faizal said. "Thus, if this view is taken seriously, then our conscious precipitation of physical reality based on continuous motion becomes an illusion produced by a discrete underlying mathematical structure."
"This proposal makes physical reality platonic in nature," he said, referring to Plato's argument that true reality exists independent of our senses. "However, unlike other theories of platonic idealism, our proposal can be experimentally tested and not just be argued for philosophically."
Physicists investigate the structure of time, with implications for quantum mechanics and philosophy
http://phys.org/news/2016-02-physicists ... sophy.html