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.