Does time exist as anything other than our measure of it? Could there ever have been a "fifteen minutes before the Big Bang?"
Time exists as something relative to our perception and movement. For events to have any kind of sequence, or order, we need the concept of time. If time were to freeze, nothing ever would move. It is something we can only imagine, but of course, not entirely, because we cannot conceive of something if our brain firing neurons are completely still.
What is time? Is time infinite? If space is infinite, it seems logical that time, too, would have to be eternal. But why do we have this notion? We have the idea because most of what we are familiar with is the visible. We notice the table we have before us, not the space between the atoms that comprise that seemingly solid surface. But the question is a good one, because it sets up many more questions, and that is how ideas become hypothesis.
When people think about the twin paradox of fast as light travel, (FTL) we have difficulty in making sense of the whole track of time. It has only been about a century since the idea of time travel has really exploded in the world of fantasy and science fiction. We need to give ourselves some “time” before some really brilliant Hawking types in the next one thousand years expand upon what must be infinite possibilities.
We surely also have the notion of time because it is a practical application of natural laws. Long before your cell phone and wrist watch, people used the sky itself as a kind of calendar. If anything can actually exist without time, it must be a very patient entity, or perhaps the whole Universe has a dormant, torpid phase for a billion years now and then. It does seem that some of us feel kind of tired, weary, entropy. We yawn, in need of a cosmic nap, of inconceivable dimension and manifestation. Maybe it is possible that time can slowly wind down, but once stopped, how to wake up and smell the pre- breakfast Big Bang?
We need to look into nature’s laws to learn, even to learn about ourselves. We can trace our origins, now, to the atoms blasted into being which, much later became aware. Because Einstein was a humble man, he realized there would be plenty of future left for physicists and arm chair SF fans to investigate all the ramifications of relativity. He knew that who we are is not related to being the pinnacle of creation, but that we are a small species capable of both thought, and thoughtlessness.
Our origins, our mass being atoms, is one basis for our one-ness with the cosmos. Our consciousness, mass become energy and thought, is another. When we add time to the equation, we are really in deep, here. It will take more research. Grant, lab team, and some really cool FTL space ships, please!