Friday, September 29, 2006

It's About Time


Alexander left a comment on my post about aging that got me thinking (always a dangerous thing) about the subject of time. Our notion of time has changed over the past several hundred years from a cyclical event to a linear way of thinking. The French Revolution had a lot to do with it. But then the French Revolution transformed many of our ideas besides that of thinking of existence in a multi dimensional concept to that of the two dimensional context through which we travel in time. That's why Hannah Arendt only recognizes it as the only true "revolution" because ideas "re evolved". But in exploring the nature of time it has been found (in theory) to be a cyclical event kind of like a eternally unraveling spiral.

It's everything from the kitchen clock to the time space continuum. It's the moment, which is really the only point of our existence as everything else is either the past or the future and as such not a part of our immediate being except as we imagine or remember. Everything except the now is only in our mind. Life as it relates to time seems a series of quantum moments all held together by only our thoughts. Then there's this thing about time in the grand scheme of the universe. The fourth dimension and all that. I suggest that if you don't want to get lost space and time refrain form clicking on the above link.

The nice thing about our artificial construct of time which measures the hours and minutes in relation to the sun is it lets us coordinate events. But then sometimes in preparing for those events it seems to zip by leaving us running late or not on (what else) time. Then it can drag by leaving us with intolerable longing. And I find the older I get the faster it goes.

Now there are several theories that I find mind boggling. Einstein said that as we approach the speed of light time slows down. You know if we go faster than light, events haven't occurred yet or at least the haven't reached us yet. But who knows since we'll never get there. And what is beyond the speed of light? Do we look back and see ourselves catching up? I guess we'll never know because that phenomenon will always be just beyond reach. It has been found as astronauts spend time (that's that word again) in space hurling around the earth at incredible speeds time really did slow down. And to think it wasn't that long ago that 40 miles per hour was considered pretty darn fast.

Another thing I find strange is that time determines the shape of space. Space has shape? I always thought of space as, well...space. Most of everything is really nothing. If the nucleus of an atom were the size of a baseball the closest electron would be about nine miles away. All else may be some sort of energy which I guess is something. So what is the shape of energy? Is the bending of radiation which can be done the same as shaping it? And doesn't shape imply mass?

And another thing, suppose we were able to travel 5 million light years towards a star 10 million light years away would we be 5 million light years in the past? Would we not be born because our parents hadn't been born? For that matter the human race hadn't been born. Or on the other hand would we still exist as some intergalactic anomaly?

Our universe is such a wonderfully complex thing. What happens on the atomic scale mirrors what happens on the cosmic scale. Particles and energies bounce around in atoms much as stars and galaxies in the universe all held together by forces we don't begin to understand. There's so much we don't know. It was only a the railroad that brought the national coordination of time. Before that the time in the city might be completely different from the time in the suburbs or on the farm. And how far back was it when water clocks, candles, hourglass and sundials were the timekeeping technology. It was only at the beginning of the nineteenth century that a dependable timepiece made navigation accurate.

But as Chicago said, does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody care?

Now lets talk about gravity.

9 Comments:

Blogger Sean said...

I'm no physicist but I've read a couple of books trying (and failing) to educate me on the theory of relativity. Nothing in the theory of relativity establishes that you can traverse backward in time - at least in the way you describe. It's just that the faster you go - relative to other objects - the faster those objects will move through time relative to your travel through time. So, assume you had two identical watches. Both had the same time. You left one on Earth and wore the other. Then assume you could travel at close to the speed of light away from Earth - for one year as measured by the watch you were wearing - and then returned by the end of the second year. Two years would have passed for you. However, the watch on Earth might register that a dozen years had passed. To you, Earth time would have appeared to speed up while you were gone. To others, you would look much older than a two absense would suggest.

An interesting experiment was done that I can't completely remember but I'll describe the basics. Two similar timepieces were used with identical times. One was left stationary in a lab, the other was put on a Concorde jet and left on the jet for a certain period of time (weeks?). At the end of the experiment, the watch on the jet, having travelled through space slightly faster relative to watch left in the lab, was clearly registering an earlier time. The "jet" watch was several hundredths of a second slower. Cool stuff.

Sean

5:18 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

This is a subject that is very easy to fail to understand, Sean. I've been trying to wrap my mind around it for a number of years now. All of it is, of course, theory but it seems to work. In the main it's all quite amaxing.

3:06 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

That's amazing...

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Oh, yes, time is an interesting subject. We could go on and on to discuss it for ages :-)

Actually, one of my latest post, Making Love Figures, is related to this subject too....

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Oh, and the gravity talk, are you sure....?

It's all gonna end up about boobs ;-)

11:14 AM  
Anonymous threecollie said...

I am confused, I admit it....this is interesting but above my head. Of course in the other room the rest of the family is watching the play offs and there is a LOT of screaming going on.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Alexander said...

Wow, this went waaaay over my head LOL

3:50 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Your post about Making Love Figures is more complicated than this, Mrs. L. I never did understand higher math.
And that gravity thing ending up about boobs shows I have my prioities straight.

I am also confused 3C and I don't have people screaming in the other room.

Don't feel bad Alexander, it's over my head also.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Leslie Shelor said...

Deep, man.

6:42 AM  

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