It’s about time we talked about time. Once, in an earlier post, I talked about how our notion of time has changed since the invention and development of clocks, how the Industrial Revolution accompanied the development of mechanical clocks, and about how we talk about “productivity” and “wasting” time. Definitely, the clock was a game-changer.
But what is time? Does it really exist outside of our minds?
How come time is found in nearly all the great equations of physics? How does gravity fit into the time-space continuum? And do we have time to figure out all this stuff, or are we just “wasting our time”?
Time (together with space) is a dimension of our world that, according to all the latest reports, came into existence when the Big Bang “happened”. Of course, nothing can happen without time. Time appears to be an essential ingredient or principle upon which our great and vast physical universe is constructed. On a personal level, our own little, individual, psychological universes are organized into past, present and future, childhood, adulthood, birth, and death – all while we’re hurrying to catch the 5:15 bus. Our very lives are time-constrained, or “time-limited”. Naturally, we don’t like to think too much about the time when there will be no time. And without time nothing can ever happen, right? Pretty boring, no? That’s why you have to make hay while the sun shines. Huh? Because afterwards there’s nothing happening.
In physics, time is an a priori: a given: Not unlike electrical charge and gravitation (which we really don’t understand either) time is somehow just accepted as a fact, – or, thanks to Prof. Einstein, a “relative” fact. Which reminds me of some family members who happen to be – in fact they’re nearly always – camped out on my couch.
Not unlike my relatives, time is typically defined as the “measured sequencing of events”. We know that time moves forward or “marches on”. However, they say the laws of physics would also hold true even if time went backward. Outside of the movies, time travel has yet to be accomplished. For some reason we humans like to measure and count time. It’s a bit of an obsession. It’s interesting how our concepts of time have changed and evolved over the millennia, mostly due to improved technology, that’s to say better and better clocks. Our greatly improved precision of measurement in recent centuries has ushered in the so-called “fruits of modern civilization”…..
OK, before we slip on a banana peel, here’s a song about a train to loosen things up, and then a poem about time. The song is Bumba and Maybank’s fledgling version of Streamline Cannonball, which has some of the sweetest lyrics of all time (oops)
The railroad days
They’re long passed
Memories spinning at 78 rpms
Yeah sure, the trains still run
But it’s not the same, my friend
It’s not the same
There comes a time for reflection
A time in the afternoon
When evening must wait
This morning, we rose with the solstice
Glory to the sun and the moon
Glory to the heavens
Glory to the Creator
As He gazes longingly past the galactic clouds
Dreaming of another symmetry
At home the lion waits
Calmly in the late afternoon