Simultaneity and Time

“Simultaneity” is a word used in Science and has two distinct meanings. As usual, the meanings get conflated and lead to argumentation.

A) Perceptive simultaneity (Einstein’s)
B) Time Zoning (Modern Scientism)

When Einstein was referring to simultaneous events, he was referring to (A) wherein two observers might report whether events were simultaneous differently from each other due to the time that it takes for the light to travel from one point to another giving the impression that an event occurred later than it did.

In modern Scientism, the word “simultaneity” refers to a time zone labeling of space for time reference. When using this version of simultaneity what is being referred to is the terminology or semantics to be used when referencing what time something occurred. When it is 8:00 in New York, it is 5:00 in California. Of course this has nothing to do with the behavior of the physical universe, “physics”. It is merely a labeling standard. The standard is that you are to project a light photon from a point of interest at any particular time of day and label every point the photon reaches as being that time (of day) when it reaches that point, which of course will be later.

The problem has arisen that the semantic issue of time zoning is being taught in universities as a principle in physics that explains things like special relativity. An oversight in language is being used to justify why a theory is to be accepted. The Lorenz equation is often called up as a authoritative reference to justify the semantics. But in reality, the Lorenz equation had nothing to do with time zone labeling as is often taught (and even represented on Wiki as a physics principle).

Time itself on the other hand, has nothing to do with labeling nor perception. Time is a measure of relative change. It doesn’t matter what you choose to call anything. The only issue relevant to time itself is how much change occurred in one event compared to another. Einstein referred to this as the comparison of two clocks, “how fast one clock is running compared to another”. Special and general relativity deal with this time issue of comparisons in rates of changes, not what labels are being used to refer to them.

So when someone mentions “simultaneity” it might be wise to ask which version they are referring to and see if it is actually relevant to the discussion. Often people say that reality is merely whatever it is called rather than what it actually is (a confusion of Aristotle dialectics).

As you may expect, I have a few things to say about “Time”. I have read your OP and, with respect to understanding it, I have made a valiant attempt.

I suspect I’ll remain mute as a trout in regards to whether you are an expert on everything or an expert at the things [you] talk about. . I do hope that I learn something from what you offer.

I may be an expert at two or three things, possibly; and I’ve never given it much thought. What I have done is study the use of the English language and focused on critical thinking. It is from this perspective that I want to reply.

Should I infer that “time zoning”–no matter what it may be–is a semantic issue?

Does the “problem” that arose have anything to do with Universities “that explain[s] things like special relativity”? Probably not, though you wrote that. I can’t be sure what is objectionable about time zoning–if anything.

What is it? (The “oversight in language”.) This would be crucial to any discussion of that theory in this thread and would help anyone who may become confused by the use of “oversight”.

How can an equation have anything to do with language semantics?

Is the Lorenz equation adduced in support of (“called up”) time zoning or “the semantic issue”?

Less to the point:

I humbly suggest that “to justify a theory” or “to justify the acceptance of a theory” is preferable to “why a theory is to be accepted”: this latter phrase would require that we consider assertions or proposition other than evidence or observation.

There may always be a separation between our language and actuality (reality).

When someone writes [notice that I didn’t write ‘says’] when someone writes “what [reality] actually is” (actuality), we’re reminded of “whatever the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

The point, which may always be, is: Does linguistic expression of reality–(actuality or ‘is’)–does it describe ‘Reality’ (the ‘is’)?

Mathematics will always be a far superior tool or method toward an accurate representation or description of ‘Reality’.

I use “toward” to denote a movement closer to ‘Reality’ (actuality, ‘is’)

When I thought that I had made some advancement on the Chicken and Egg dilemma–in lieu of a solution (lol)–I had to consider whether I was merely rewording the dilemma.

I will return with something about “Time” (the handmaiden of Matter) as it is, in part, the subject of this thread.

Time zoning space is identical to the time zoning across a country except that it is across all space. Time zoning a country involves, for example, marking it to be 6:30AM at a particular place on the map because that is exactly when the Sun rose at that point. And then as the Sun rises at each other point across the land, you mark it to be 6:30AM there as well. By the time you go from New York to California, New York will be 3 hours later.

Time zoning space is that same way except that you use a traveling photon to carry the signal of what time each point is to be labeled.

Such time zoning has nothing to do with the interactive properties of physical entities. It is merely a method for laying out reference time labels throughout space. Thus it is merely an issue of semantics or word usage, not physics.

The “oversight” is what I have been talking about, that there are two meanings for the word “simultaneous”.

If in my equation, I say that t=20.0ns at position x, with time zoning, I have just stipulated that 10 feet away, x+10ft, it must be 10.0ns. With conventional word usage, if it is 20ns at x, then it is 20ns everywhere. This isn’t a matter of truth, but rather of timing semantic convention.

Time zoning… which is the semantic issue.

Hi to All,

In Special Relativity all the clocks, in a given inertial reference frame, are synchronized to read the same time.

“Let the measured distance between the [two] clocks (and observers) be L. The agreed- upon procedure for synchronization then is that A will turn on his light source when his clock reads t = 0 and observer B will set his clock to t = L / c the instant he receives the signal”. Page 52 of “Introduction to Special Relativity” by Robert Resnick

After repeating this procedure, at any given instant, all of the clocks will read the exact same time.

To be honest I don’t understand James’ post, but my guess is that time zoning has nothing to do with simultaneity or the Lorentz transform.


Thanks for the reference.

That is not the time zoning (edited… I was reading that backwards). Time zoning is when from the perspective of a single observer, every clock that he could see, even through an extreme telescope looking at a clock 20 light minutes away, will read identical to his. Which means of course that whatever he sees actually happened 20 minutes earlier.

It is merely a means for labeling what time setting to put on every clock throughout space such that they will all read the same to that single reference observer regardless of how far away they are. It has nothing at all to do with any physical property of time or space. It is merely a labeling convention.

The bitch of it is when daylight savings comes and he has to go reset everyone of those damn clocks strung across space.

It just reminds me of the Catholic Church, “The Earth is the center of the universe… oh wait, the Sun is the center of the universe… oh hold it, we have it, the INDIVIDUAL is the center of the universe… Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

Hi James,

I am still not sure what you mean.

Assuming the convention (labeling) for the synchronizing of the clocks was, as Resnick suggested, and that an observer at time t = N looks at a distant clock B placed 20 light minutes away, then the observer will read the distant clock B as N – 20 minutes.

Is this what you meant?


Resnick is suggesting the Einstein version (A), not the time zoning version (B) (edited… I was trying to read that too fast).

If the clocks have been time zoned properly, when he looks at the clock 20 light minutes away, it will appear to him identical to his own.
That is NOT what Resnick was talking about. But of course, that means that the events he sees will have actually occurred 20 minutes earlier because of the light travel time.

You just reminded me of one of my physics books back in college, “Halliday and Resnick”. :sunglasses:

I am Agnostic and I think that was a cheap shot.

Would you be typing at your computer if the equivalence of the “individual” human “soul” was not posited?

I’m only asking…

Yeah, you’re just asking, but honestly I have absolutely no idea what you just asked.
But I really appreciate the question.
Thank you for asking.

Hmmm. I never thought that would be possible.

I think it’s a profound question. For that reason, I will let it stand.

I thank you for making me ask it!

Any time. :sunglasses:

Hi James,

Resnick is the Resnick of Halliday and Resnick. We most likely used the same text book in our freshman physics class.

Unfortunately, I am still not sure how you are calibrating clocks in an inertial reference frame.

You wrote “when he looks at the clock 20 light minutes away, it will read identical to his own”. And you also wrote “But of course, that means that the events he sees will have actually occurred 20 minutes earlier because of the light travel time”.

These responses are contradictory.

The correct answer to the question I asked is yes. The clock will read N – 20.

The wrong answer is the answer that you gave, but then appeared to retract.

Any way if the clocks are properly calibrated they will all read the same. By analogy (a poor one) if it is 1:00 PM is Los Angles CA then it will be 1:00 PM in Denver, 1:00 PM in St. Louis, 1:00 PM in New York, 1:00 PM in London, 1:00 PM in Moscow, 1:00 PM in New Delhi and 1:00 PM in Sydney.

There appears to be no reason to talk about time zoning because all the clocks will read the same.


I was mis-accusing Resnick. When I read that Resnick quote, my brain shut off at just the right moment to make it seem like he was referring to the time zoning, which surprised me a bit, but apparently not enough to wake me up to reread it. Resnick was talking about the Einstein proper convention for synchronizing (which is how I have always thought of it).

Does that make more sense to you with the red added parts referring to Time-Zoning (not Einstein-proper)?

Yes. You’re right. And I edited that post. I was getting confused with the semantic bit myself.
Resnick had it what I call “right”. The time zoning to me, is silly semantics causing argumentation.

The issue is that when Einstein proper synchronized and the observer sees the clocks from a distance, he will not see the same time reading as his own and thus it is often being said that from his personal time reference, the distant time itself is different than his. It is a confusion concerning what time “is observed” versus what time “it is”.

This confusion is what was going on in that Stopped Clock Paradox issue. The argument against the paradox was that two differently distanced clocks cannot be in sync with an observer (due to time zoning). In reality and if Einstein-properly synchronized, they will merely appear to be out of sync if read at a distance. It was additionally argued that if those clocks were moving, they could not be in sync both within the moving frame and also the non-moving frame. My argument was that they certainly wouldn’t stay in sync between frames, but certainly could be set to be in sync at any one given instant with all frames. You can set clocks to be anything you want for a single instant.

Hi James,

I think I understand your position and basically agree.

Thanks Ed

Recently someone got banned from a physics forum for referring to that paradox and asking what synchronicity had to do with it.
It was accused of being “dissonant Science”. :icon-rolleyes:

And it looks like we might have another case… “events are unique in time and space. Simultaneity is relative to the observer”