An instant is a infinitesimal moment in time, a moment whose passage is instantaneous.

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.

In physics, a theoretical lower-bound unit of time called the Planck time has been proposed, that being the time required for light to travel a distance of 1 Planck length. The Planck time is theorized to be the smallest time measurement that will ever be possible, roughly 10−43 seconds. Within the framework of the laws of physics as we understand them today, for times less than one Planck time apart, we can neither measure nor detect any change. As of May 2010, the smallest time interval that was directly measured was on the order of 12 attoseconds (12 × 10−18 seconds), about 1024 times larger than the Planck time. It is therefore physically impossible, with current technology, to determine if any action exists that causes a reaction in "an instant", rather than a reaction occurring after an interval of time too short to observe or measure.

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Famous quotes containing the word instant:

    Each instant of life is a step toward death.
    Pierre Corneille (1606–1684)

    The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.
    Walter Benjamin (1892–1940)

    When my hoe tinkled against the stones, that music echoed to the woods and the sky, and was an accompaniment to my labor which yielded an instant and immeasurable crop. It was no longer beans that I hoed, nor I that hoed beans; and I remembered with as much pity as pride, if I remembered at all, my acquaintances who had gone to the city to attend the oratorios.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)