You can think of Bitcoin as a kind of clock, it keeps track of time across the tens of thousands of computers that make up its network. A decentralized clock if you will, keeping track of which transactions came first. Ticking away for eternity.
Not only does bitcoin tell time, but Bitcoin is an invention of a new kind of time.
Consider each new block added to the blockchain as a tick or a tock. The nodes within the bitcoin network come to a consensus of what the blocktime is and what transactions are included in each block.
Bitcoin facilitates this decentralized variable time in a trustless manner, i.e. there’s no one ‘keeping time’ the computers do this algorithmically without interference.
Obviously the problem of timekeeping is a big deal when dealing with a ledger, the order of who sent money to who is extremely important. If someone has control over the order of transactions they can literally control who has what money.
It must be stressed that the impossibility of associating events with points in time in distributed systems was the unsolved problem that precluded a decentralized ledger from ever being possible until Satoshi Nakamoto invented a solution.Gregory Trubetskoy
The fancy term for this is Bitcoin is a distributed timestamp server, mitigating disputes in the order of transactions, completely autonomously, through a complex interplay of physics and game theory.
Bitcoin is automatic and can’t be shut off. No one controls the bitcoin time chain, it’s a computer system that exists beyond the control of humanity.
It exists as permanently and beyond human control as time itself.