QUESTION: Hi Tom. I would like to say I appreciate and accept your apology in your last reply to myself. I would like to apologise for the tone of my previous correspondence too. Hopefully we can put that behind us...and I could take this opputunity to ask some science questions!!
I recently watched a documentary on neutrinos. It concerned experiments to see if they had mass and experienced time. It led me to wonder certain things.
1. I dont know if this is more a philisophical question but..would a universe that had no mass in it, experience time?
2. If time is the result of mass/gravity, then time is a manifestation of the Higgs field?
3. The documentary said that a massless particle, travelling at the speed of light does not 'experience' time. Yet it has changed its position (by moving). So ,according to itself, it has changed its position in no time at all! I am not arguing that this is not possible. It just made me wonder....Could the era we call inflation actually be an era where massless particles are 'doing there thing'!, the universe is expanding..but NO time is passing!!! I know it sounds a crackpot idea-events occuring but no passage of time. But if massless particles dont experience time and if that is all there was then....
Maybe I have missed something. I would appreciate your thoughts and please dont hesitate to be critical.Thanks very much Tom.

ANSWER: #3. You can't "argue" that it's not possible, because it not only IS possible, that's the way the Universe works!
Yes, that is correct about a massless particle, and is a basic law of Special Relativity.  Any photon (or other zero mass particle)... a clock on board at light speed would record zero passage of time no matter how far the trip. Yes, those photons striking your retina when viewing say, Rigel at 1500 ly, think they just instantly left the "surface" of Rigel in THEIR time frame. But of course in our time frame, they took some 1500 years to make the trip.  Both results are correct, because every observer must measure the velocity of light at the exact same value.  And in the simple equation v = d/t, if the distance takes a longer length due to the observers high velocity, then the time must also "dilate" to a higher value, to get the same v (or c in this case)... for everyone. So if distance becomes infinite, then time passage has to go to zero... to calculate light's correct velocity.  That's why time passage slows down as one approaches light speed, so you calculate the same velocity for c just as an observer at "rest" relative to lightspeed.  (But just YOU going that fast, and NOT for any outside observer.That's why Einstein stated that before discussing ANY observations, both observers must first state... their reference frame relative to light speed; otherwise, both can be different results, but both correct in their observations.

Oh, and the passage of zero time only applies to an observer ON the object traveling at light speed, and NOT to any outside observer... so even if your hypothesis about massless particles
"doing their thing"... the zero time change would NOT apply to all the other particles (read that- outside observers") created in the Big Bang, moving at sub-light speed.

#4. No. Inflation was strictly a spacial (not energy or mass) event.  Space itself "inflated"
(grew huge) and a rate probably many millions of times light speed.  How is this possible?
Restrictions on c only apply to matter and energy, nothing else... not space, not shadows of spacecraft going by a bright object, and not looking at foreshortened objects (like jets coming off quasars) which simply "appear" to exceed light speed, but from the jet's standpoint,
it doesn't.

#1. I don't know, and I'll bet no one else does either. I just know that in our Universe
#2.  time is a function of space, not mass/gravity.  In fact, the real name for space is the spacetime continuum, as space and time are interlocked to each other.
But if there were no mass and energy in our Universe, there probably wouldn't be any space and time either... time (and space) under those circumstances would serve no useful purpose.
Hope this helps,
Clear Skies,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Tom, thanks for your response.
My humble theory was based on there being no sub-light particles at the instant of the Big Bang. Obviously I am not knowledgable enough to know whether that actually was the case.
Are these correct statements?
Spacetime is affected by gravity.
Gravity is a function of mass.
Mass results from the Higgs field.
Spacetime (and therefore just Time as we commonly know it) can be LINKED to the Higgs field.
Thanks again for your time,

Well, put that way, I guess you're right; so I can also say, using your deductive reasoning...
all vehicles have wheels.
roller skates and baby buggies (perambulators I believe is the British word) have wheels,
therefore the latter 2 items are vehicles.
or all marsupials have fur;
squirrels and cats have fur,
therefore squirrels and cats are marsupials.


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Tom Whiting


Astronomy has been my hobby/pasttime for over 50 years.  Currently own 3 telescopes, the largest of which is a 30 inch Newtonian truss Dob that is portable.I taught Astronomy/Meteorology at the University Level for 13 years before retiring in 1995. Being retired and home most of the time, I am able to answer all questions relatively quickly, unless it's a new moon weekend with good observing conditions.  No astrology questions please, or questions about alleged UFO picture identifications.


Experience: Astronomy has been my hobby and study for over 50 years. We currently now own a 30 inch portable telescope (Updated - Pennsylvania`s largest portable telescope). It can be seen on our website at: and also attend several regional starparties during the year, and have been on 5 total solar eclipse expeditions.

Organizations: President, Erie County Mobile Observers Group for over 15 years.

Publications: Wrote the "Over Erie Skies" newspaper article in our local newspaper for 11 years (1975-86).

Education: Masters Degree- Taught at the University level for 13 years. Retired 20 years -USAF Pilot - KC-135 with 180 combat missions;  Also Eagle Scout, Philmont staff 2 Yrs, Order of Arrow Lodge Chief, Ham Radio (inactive).

Awards: two discoveries: The mini-coathanger asterism in Ursa Minor (the little dipper) And the mini-ladle- another asterism in the bowl of Ursa Minor. Clients: Currently President of the ECMOG as mentioned above.

BS  Metallurgical Engineering Grove City College, PAMaster's Degree, Gannon University, Erie, PA Also retired USAF pilot, 20 years.

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