Time in the Worldview of Classical Physics

  • Klaus Mainzer
Part of the Little book series book series (LBS)


In classical physics, time became a measurable and calculable quantity. Technical advances in mechanical engineering made possible the construction of increasingly precise chronometers and clocks. With the aid of modern mathematics, time could be measured with arbitrary precision. In the formalism of classical mechanics, time is merely a coordinate in the equations of motion. These equations remain valid under certain transformations—for example, those in which the direction of time is reversed. But the invariance of time as a constant measurable quantity—the notion that time is an absolute, independent, unvarying entity—was fundamental in classical mechanics. Only with the advent of relativity and then quantum theory were these notions of an invariant and independent entity called into question. They have also been considered by modern epistemology, where time is investigated as a form of consciousness.


Classical Physic Absolute Time Inertial System Absolute Space Galilean Invariance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ebbinghaus et al., Numbers ( New York: Springer-Verlag, 1991 ), 307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Newton, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,ed. Koyre (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 3rd ed. 1972).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Leibniz, Hauptschriften zur Grundlegung der Philosophie Vol.1, ed. Cassirer, trans!. Buchenau ( Leipzig, Germany: F. Meiner, 1904 ), 136.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jammer, Concepts of Space: The History of Theories of Space in Physics (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 3rd ed. 1994).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mittelstaedt, Klassische Mechanik ( Heidelberg, Germany: Spektrum-Verlag, 1995 ), 47.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Audretsch and Mainzer, Philosophie und Physik der Raum-Zeit (Heidelberg, Germany: Spektrum-Verlag, 2nd ed. 1994), 28.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, eds. Guyer and Wood (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 1999 ).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Reichenbach, The Philosophy of Space and Time Part 2, trans!. M. Reichenbach (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Janich, Protophysics of Time: Constructive Foundation and History of Time Measurement (Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1985); Lorenzen, “Zur Definition der vier fundamentalen Meßgrößen,” Philosophia Naturalis 16 (1976): 1–9.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Reichenbach, The Philosophy of Space and Time Part 2, trans!. M. Reichenbach (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1982 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus Mainzer
    • 1
  1. 1.AugsburgGermany

Personalised recommendations