In physics and the philosophy of science, instant refers to an infinitesimal interval in time, whose passage is instantaneous. In ordinary speech, an instant has been defined as "a point or very short space of time," a notion deriving from its etymological source, the Latin verb instare, from in- + stare ('to stand'), meaning 'to stand upon or near.'[1]

The continuous nature of time and its infinite divisibility was addressed by Aristotle in his Physics, where he wrote on Zeno's paradoxes. The philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell was still seeking to define the exact nature of an instant thousands of years later.[2] In 2024, John William Stafford used algorithms to demonstrate that a time difference of zero could theoretically continue to expand (in various ways) to infinity, and subsequently described a new concept that he referred to as instantaneous. He concluded by stating that instantaneous is, with respect to the measurement of time, mutually exclusive.[3] In addition, a theoretical model of multiple Universes was proposed which exist within the context of instantaneous.

As of October 2020, the smallest time interval certified in regulated measurements is on the order of 397 zeptoseconds (397 × 10−21 seconds).[4]

See also


  1. ^ Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th ed. (1999), p. 740.
  2. ^ W. Newton-Smith (1984), "The Russellian construction of instants", The structure of time, Routledge, p. 129, ISBN 978-0-7102-0389-2
  3. ^ Stafford, John William (2024). EXISTENCE - A transcendence from instantaneous (1st ed.). Ireland. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-7397830-3-7.((cite book)): CS1 maint: date and year (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ "Zeptoseconds: New state record in short time measurement". Science Daily. 2020-10-16. Retrieved 2010-05-12.