I hope others enjoy this stuff as much as I do and I also hope this post will clear up matters at least somewhat. It took me considerable time to be honest, I've been learning a lot on the way, but it wasn't an easy task to assemble a picture of the state of affairs.
You won't easily find it spelled out in popular science material, but here's Einstein's position on whether time and space exist or not, taken from https://einstein.stanford.edu/SPACETIME/spacetime2.html
Space and time exist absolutely, but are not independent. They are interwoven into a single fabric called spacetime.
Spacetime does act on matter, by guiding the way it moves. And matter does act back on spacetime, by producing the curvature that we feel as gravity.
That's the widely accepted view in the scientific community, the same view which is also presented in the video below, despite the somewhat misleading title.
It is a very common misconception that Einstein would have said time is only an illusion and would have meant it doesn't exist in reality.
What he did say was this:
"The distinction of past, present and future is only an illusion, however persistent."
For an explanation what exactly the above quote means  please  watch a little 4 min. segment of the following video, you won't regret it, it's a fantastic visualisation making it instantly understandable.
And it's so adorable with the little alien on a bicycle that you won't easily forget, and it's important!
Start from around 22:38 min:
Just reading the title can easily lead to misunderstanding. What they are on about does not contradict Einstein's position that time and space have an absolute (= fundamental, see below) existence in physical reality in the form of spacetime.
Instead it explains that and how our experience of time is an illusion, how time doesn't behave as it intuitively seems, but instead behaves very differently in certain circumstances, but behave it does.
Einstein's theory predicted that spacetime itself would bend in the vicinity of a massive object for example, and confirmation was gained by observing this effect during a total solar eclipse.
Light always travels the shortest way and in a straight line through space until it meets an object, but light from farther stars which passes closely by the sun undergoes a curvature and such its source appears to be somewhere else than when viewed in the night sky.
Like this:
In 2013 a new round of wondering about the nature of spacetime was kicked off by a mathematical "discovery", the amplituhedron.
Again you can find popular science sources under headers announcing the groundbreaking new insight of how "time and space are not real".
What is meant this time around is again not that spacetime isn't real, but that it might not be fundamental.
Meaning it might instead be a manifestation, an emergent property of an even more basic reality from the quantum realm.
Quantummagazine  A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics:
Physicists have discovered a jewellike geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.
“This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work.
A picture of the Amplituhedron:
Somebody asked the following question under one more of those slightly confusing headers: Space and Time Are Illusions, Apparently:
In other news today, the discovery of the amplituhedron, "a newly discovered mathematical object resembling a multifaceted jewel in higher dimensions," means that space and time may be illusions. If you understand this, please explain it in the discussion section below.
Here's a beautiful answer she got from somebody calling themselves effdot:
Imagine this marble track in your mind's eye.
Imagine that you had a marble going down that track. If you wanted to know here the marble would be at any point in time, it's easy to see. You know the shape of the track, the possible paths the marble could take, and all the info you need.
Now, imagine that the same marble track was invisible. In fact, imagine that you had no idea what that marble track 'looked' like. The only way you know how a marble might travel along it would be to blindly drop it. If you got lucky, you may find the entrance to the track, and the marble itself may follow an orderly pattern. But without any idea of what the track 'looks' like, you have to make all kinds of probability calculations to guess the speed or position of the marble.
What these guys have done is create a mathematical model of the very complex marble track that particles travel along. Which means you can just do a volume calculation of that object relative to the particle to determine its paths.
Another snippet of the article from Quantummagazine:
Puzzling Thoughts
Locality and unitarity are the central pillars of quantum field theory, but as the following thought experiments show, both break down in certain situations involving gravity. This suggests physics should be formulated without either principle.
Locality says that particles interact at points in spacetime. But suppose you want to inspect spacetime very closely. Probing smaller and smaller distance scales requires ever higher energies, but at a certain scale, called the Planck length, the picture gets blurry: So much energy must be concentrated into such a small region that the energy collapses the region into a black hole, making it impossible to inspect. “There’s no way of measuring space and time separations once they are smaller than the Planck length,” said ArkaniHamed. “So we imagine spacetime is a continuous thing, but because it’s impossible to talk sharply about that thing, then that suggests it must not be fundamental — it must be emergent.”
Unitarity says the quantum mechanical probabilities of all possible outcomes of a particle interaction must sum to one. To prove it, one would have to observe the same interaction over and over and count the frequencies of the different outcomes. Doing this to perfect accuracy would require an infinite number of observations using an infinitely large measuring apparatus, but the latter would again cause gravitational collapse into a black hole. In finite regions of the universe, unitarity can therefore only be approximately known.
To go off topic a bit  illusion actually fits very nicely for time if you apply the proper definitions of terms.
An illusion is a misinterpretation of a perception of something actually existing, while a hallucination is a purely endogenously generated perception.
The usual effects of most psychedelics are mere illusions for example. Say there's a lamp and what you see is an elf with an umbrella doing a little jiggledance. But there is a lamp, not nothing. Otherwise it would be classified as hallucination.
Same with time, there is something which we mistake for what we commonly understand under the term time.
Einstein gave us a conceptualization of this something with his spacetime fabric and it got demonstrated again and again that space and time really behave like that. Without RT we wouldn't be able to use satellites for another example...
Now it looks as if QM can reduce spacetime further and explain it as an emergent property of something else yet again.
Like finding yet smaller particles in atoms, which were thought to be the smallest, most fundamental building blocks of matter, but are not.


Bookmarks