Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Musings on Time

I came across this article (http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/in-no-time/) several days ago and it persists in my memory.

Before I address the articles content, I need to contextualize a bit. Two summers ago while teaching an advanced acting class here in Scottsdale, I referenced Einstein's Theory of Relativity as a reasonable proof to the fluidity of time. Essentially the faster you are traveling in relation to something else, the slower time passes for you when compared to that other. Ergo time is not constant. This had a profound effect on one of my students who had never conceived that something as "fixed" as time could be mutable. Her response fed into my discussion and helped illuminate my effort to encourage them to think for themselves. If time isn't fixed then many things in their lives are not including imagination, ability to progress and so on.

Now after reading the above article it seems that physicists have long known that time might not exist at all. It isn't observable and theoretically begins to break down when reconciling the behaviors of quanta. Our reckoning of time is generally standardized by the oscillation of Cesium atoms within a closed system. This establishes a government standard for what time is and subsequently all of our timepieces are synced to such devices. Personally my observation of the passing of time is wildly variable, i.e. whether I'm at work(slow) or having fun(fast), as is my memory of the past and how the passing of time feels as I get older.

So time isn't constant and it might not exist at all. What we perceive as the flow of time could just be a byproduct of our biology. That "sense" might be the barrier to understanding what our true nature is, beings who exist outside of time. Immortal no longer because the word itself cannot be defined without time. Where we were before, where we are now and where we will be in the future may all coexist happily on top of each other rather then as a sequential set of events.

I think Einstein says it well, from the article:
  • In March 1955, when his lifelong friend Michele Besso died, he wrote a letter consoling Besso’s family: "Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

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