Making Sense of Time, Earthbound and Otherwise
Making Sense of Time, Earthbound and Otherwise
By NATALIE ANGIER
Published: January 23, 2007
“Let’s think about the nature of the seconds, days, seasons and years by which we humans calibrate our clocks and merrily spend down our lives.”
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So, what sentence(s) do you wish to quote as “fair use” for scholarly purpose, about which you want to comment or provoke comment? Just asking… my eigengenes made me say that. Or the psychopharmacokinetics of the coffee that I drank later in the day than usual.
And do you love or hate the word “Chronomics” by analogue to genomics, proteomics, lipidomics, transcriptomics, etceteraomics?
That’s easy! Here’s my fiar use:
“The long and short of the universe is just that, almost exclusively long and short, with the hyperclipped quantum clickings of the atom on one end and the chasmic lollygags and foot drags of the greater cosmos on the other. We terrestrial, tweener-timed life forms are the real outliers here, the kinky boots at the party.”
If nothing else, the article is poetry–thanks for the pointer!
My vote on chronomics? Hate.
“a rhythmicity that may help explain why we love music but still does not explain the lingering popularity of Bachman-Turner Overdrive”
simple: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”, a song about time
Does anyone remember the spat between Eisensteinians & the French philosopher Henri Bergson? Bergson basically claimed that Einstein’s definition of time (Taken from Ernst Mach) as “that which is measured by a clock” is not exhaustive; something that is internal to the (human) organism is required. Do any of you eggheads know anything more about this?
There were some philosophers of time (Fraser etc.) who asserted that life/biology is what gives time its directionality, i.e., with physics alone time is equally likely moving forwards as backward (you cannot figure out which way from physics), but biology determines which direction is past and whis is future.
I’d like to mention a fact from History of Philososophy (punchline as last clause) one of my teachers’ teachers’ teachers’ teachers:
John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart [1866-1925] was a Fellow of Trinity College, Lecturer in Moral Sciences, and a Nonreductionist. He was the author of “Studies in Hegelian Cosmology. The Philosophy of Hegel”
[Dissertation, 1898; 1901; Garland, 1984]. This work explored application of a priori conclusions derived from the investigation of pure thought to empirically-known subject matter; human immortality; the absolute; the supreme good and the moral criticism; punishment; sin; and the conception of society as an organism. McTaggart was controversial for claiming that time was unreal: “The Nature of Existence” [Cambridge University Press,
1921]; “The Unreality of Time” [Mind, vol. XVII].
As to the “arrow of time”, a paper I reviewed:
“On a Finite Universe with no Beginning or End”
and one I coauthored:
Philip V. Fellman, Jonathan Vos Post, “Time and Classical and Quantum Mechanics and the Arrow of Time”
North American Conference on Computation in Social and Organizational Systems,2005,
Abstract: In thinking about information theory at the quantum mechanical level, our [the authors'] discussion, largely confined to Jonathan’s back yard, often centers about intriguing but rather abstract conjectures. My personal favorite, an oddball twist on some of the experiments connected to Bell’s theorem, is the question, “is the information contained by a pair of entangled particles conserved if one or both of the particles crosses the event horizon of a black hole? It is in this context, and in our related speculation about some of the characteristics of what might eventually become part of a quantum mechanical explanation of information theory that we first encountered the extraordinary work of Peter Lynds. This work has been reviewed elsewhere, and like all novel ideas, there are people who love it and people who hate it. One of the main purposes in having Peter here is to let this audience get acquainted with his theory first-hand rather than through an interpretation or argument made by someone else. In this regard, I’m not going to be either summarizing his arguments or providing a treatment based upon the close reading of his text. Rather, I will mention some areas of physics where, to borrow a phrase from Conan-Doyle, it may be an error to theorize in advance of the facts. In particular, I should like to bring the discussion to bear upon various arguments concerning “the arrow of time.” In so doing, I will play the skeptic, if not the downright “Devil’s Advocate” (perhaps Maxwell’s Demon’s advocate would be more precise) and simply question why we might not be convinced that there is an “arrow” of time at all.
I noticed that, while she mentioned some of the shorter units of time, she failed to mention the shortest of all, the immesuarably brief traffisecond, a unit of time functionally defined as the interval between a light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn.
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