heya mate, you are correct in what you say but no you cant just push the button to start your exposure as it wouldnt know when to stop.
The remote will release the shutter when pressed and gives you control over your exposures thus allowing you to do 'longer' exposures.
You can hold the button down and then release it when the exposure is complete but this will cause camera shake and blurred images. This is the only way without getting a remote but these are cheap and can be picked up new from most camera stores for around 20quid. Worth every penny mate, id be lost without mine now