Time, what is it? I recently watched a Nova series on PBS called The Fabric of the Cosmos. I know I’m a science nerd, but it had some interesting ideas about time and space. They mentioned that time is an illusion, that it may not flow like a river but be frozen as a collection of moments and that depending on how or where you are in space it can effect how you experience time. This kind of blew my mind, they did a test with two atomic clocks, one on a jet flying around the world and one on the ground. They were out by a minuscule amount after the test, something like a billionth of a second but it goes to show Einstein was right. Also that gravity can change how you perceive time, someone living on the ground floor of a building experiences time slower than someone living at the top, because gravity is a little stronger at the bottom than at the top. Of course it is an infinitesimal amount but what if we could live on Mercury or even better fly in a space ship around the Sun closer than ever before. Could we travel into the future? Would we come back to Earth after our little jaunt around the Sun and find our family was years older and we could buy the newest iPhone 28 or collect on our retirement plan. It would be cool, except for all of your loved ones dying before you, but hey the new iPhone!
You see I think we approach time the way we measure it, in the time we live in. When clocks first stated out they were sundials, no moving parts, it just sat there and depending on were the sun was in the sky. If you think about it back then there was no schedule, no one had to be anywhere, there was sleeping and eating. Things were pretty laid back. Then we have the grandfather clocks, based on gravity, we start to feel the pull of time, like the pendulum swinging back and forth, people started to have schedules, collect taxes, flog the peasants, kill a dragon. People weren’t happy with this and needed something on their person to measure time and one couldn’t carry around a grandfather clock now could they? No so they built watches based on the tension of a spring, tension could be felt by everyone. And like the watches they wore on their wrists everyone was getting wound up. Am I late for my hula-hoop contest? What time does the grocers close? Do I have enough time to hit the speakeasy before I listen to Eisenhower speech? Now we have atomic clocks that run on the heartbeat of an atom. Since 1967, the International System of Units (SI) has defined the second as the duration of 9192631770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two energy levels of the caesium-133 atom. I have no idea what the hell that means but it is accurate. If our watch loses a second every month or so, this thing loses a second every 100 million years. So now we have no excuse, in the modern age we are so tightly tied to time that it is on our phones, stoves, computers, cars, it’s everywhere. You can’t escape it, and it is just reminding you that each tick you are closer and closer to the grave, pretty depressing but I have a solution.
Use our minds to trick ourselves into experiencing time differently. Even if we can’t time travel right now for real, I do think people do it with their minds all the time. You ever go to a real bad party and it seems like an eternity, shaking hands, faking your way through lame conversations, it takes forever. Then on the flip side you go to an amusement park, hang out with your close friends (the fun ones), or an orgy (maybe that’s just me) and you find that time just flies by. I think that is our only option for time travel, and I think we can hone this skill and maybe 20 generations from now we can slow down time during the fun times and speed up the crappy parts, maybe even rewind like Tivos in our heads and spew out the snappy comeback we thought of, or nail that interview after the 6th try. Who knows anything could be possible, the timeline would be a jumbled hot mess but isn’t the world headed there anyway? So maybe ignore the clocks and just live your life, no stress or tension, have your only tick be the change from night to day and your tock be the beating of your own heart. Life’s too short to be on time.