Time as a dimension and our perception of it is a weird thing. The other day I was thinking to myself how slowly these past four months seem to have gone by as compared to the prior ten months. A pretty good explanation would be that it was four months ago that I started my new job here in Oklahoma City while at the same time dealing with the whole moving process, which to some degree is still going on. I think it’s the same as watching paint dry or waiting for a pot of water to boil. I seem to be waiting for certain things to happen and times to arrive. For example, I get to work and I wait for my break to arrive, then I wait for lunch, wait for my next break, and then wait to get off work. I’m waiting for the weekend to get here, and so on. I am much more consciously aware of time and its passage. The prior ten months while I was not working, there really wasn’t much of anything I was “waiting” for and as such wasn’t really consciously aware of its passage and the weeks perceptively flew by. Guess that lays credence to the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun”. Hmmm.. I wonder what that says about work. To be fair, the weeks do seem to be going by faster now than they have in the past.
I think this is why I’ve always thought of time as being a function of consciousness. Time goes by really fast when you are asleep. Actually, time doesn’t really exist during then as there is no perception of its passage. Yes, I know, Time as a dimension still exists… the universe does not implode while you are asleep, well at least not relative to everyone else who is awake.
This post has been sitting in draft for a few days and I happened to watch two episodes of Time on the Science Channel that went into some of this yesterday (1/24/2008) concerning our perception of time even as it relates to our age. As a kid, I remember things seemed like they took forever to happen. Now it seems like there’s never enough time in the day to get things done.
Time as a dimension.. like any dimension can you travel back and forth in it? Theoretically, yes, maybe. According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the faster an object moves, the slower its time passes relative to others; however, to them a minute still seems like a minute and their clock will confirm that only a minute has passed. For example, they have run experiments on the Space Shuttle with Atomic Clocks that before launch have the exact same time; however, upon return, the clock on the space shuttle has recorded less time as having past. Now granted, the amount of time is only a few nano seconds where a nano second is 1 billionth of a second. In fact, the GPS satellites whizzing above us have to correct their internal time clocks every so often in order to keep the same time relative to those of us here on Earth.
Now here’s a thought. If you send a guy up in a clear space ship that orbits the Earth at a super fast speed, such that at the end of his time in space his clock is now a few hours behind everyone else’s on Earth, how is that he never disappeared from view during his orbit and you can clearly see him when he steps out of the space ship? It would appear that he did not really travel in time. If he did, there’s no way you could see someone whose existence is at 3:00pm while your’s is at 5:00pm. To me, that’s what time travel is.
What’s really happening here is explained in the article I linked to above. The key here is that the speed of light (transmission of information from an event in the space-time continuum) is constant for all frames of reference. The speed of light coming from a guy standing still with a flash light (relative to the person measuring the speed) would be measured to be the same speed as that of the light coming from the headlights of a car going 100 mph by him, not the speed of light + the speed of the car.
So, if the MythBusters could test the possibility of Superman going back in time by whizzing around the Earth, they would declare it as busted!
Time is definitely a bizarre thing when you think about it and I think it’s about time I go ahead and post this, LOL.