Studies - Time - Perspective

  

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Time.  This subject has been studied and debated for centuries.  We've written books about it, made movies about it and yet barely understand the basics.  This study brings up some points to consider.

Time is something every living person has some experience with. And how we perceive time varies widely from person to person, depending on endless factors.  I remember as a child being told to enjoy time because when I got older, time would slip away.  As Iíve grown older, Iíve grown to greatly appreciate that concept.

When you were a child and you were looking forward to something, time seemed to just drag on.  And when there was something you were enjoying so much you did not want it to end, time seemed to fly by.  Parents know this perception or perspective difference as reminded from the voice in the back seat: ďAre we there yet?Ē  

Just as the prism is a point at which an observer can see different light, depending on perspective, there is a point that serves a similar function when considering time.  That point is the speed of light.  Our perspective on time has only recently been explained as something relative, thanks to Einstein and others.  Time at the speed of light means different things to the observer and to the traveler.  Scientists have only in recent years been able to describe the concept of time changing the closer we get to the speed of light.  This throws a huge curve ball into how we think about time.

So, to think about perspective/perception, let's consider this scene...  A person is sitting under a giant tree.  Sitting next to the person is a child. Sitting on the personís shoulder is a fly. In the field before them is a chicken and a deer.  Off to the left, a waterfall cascades over a cliff creating a river that winds its way off into the distance. Far off beyond the river is a mountain range with the peaks toward the right illuminated by the setting sun which is behind us as we behold the scene.  The Milky Way Galaxy, stars, and the moon can be seen in the heavens.
Let's look at the life span expectancy of the features in this image.  A human can live for decades - on average, into their 70s with occasional individuals living past 100.  A fly can live for perhaps 20-30 days if it can avoid every bird - including the chicken.  A chicken can live for as long as 10-12 years if it can avoid the deep fryer.  A deer can live up to as much as 15 years if it can avoid hunting seasons.  A tree can live for many hundreds of years if it can avoid the axe or saw.  Geologists tell us mountain ranges can exist for millions of years or more if they avoid erosion or eruption.  Astronomy scientists tell us the moon has been around for millions perhaps billions of years, while the stars and galaxies can exist for billions of years if they can avoid running out of fuel. In the never-ending quest to understand these things, theoretical Physicists and Quantum Physicists have discovered many ways to describe how time may not mean exactly what we have thought it meant.

Let's explore some of these time frames and how they could seem to one another for a moment.

We could pick any two things featured in the illustration for comparison.  Let's start with using the fly.  If the fly could think, how hard would it be for the fly to understand and comprehend the life span of, let's say, the human, who could live as much as 1,200 times as long as the fly.  Could you imagine, I mean really imagine, living 1200 times as long as the typical human - some 84,000 years?  Really?  Hard to imagine.  How about if the tree or the mountains could think.  Or how about the stars in the heavens.  Doing the same sort of hypothetical math - with billions becoming trillions, it is inconceivable to live trillions of years.  Flip it around from the other perspective.  If you were a star, existing for supposed billions of years, what would the life span of man or a fly be to you?  Not even a blip on the radar.

So, what does all these hypotheses have to do with anything?  At this point, it is just an exercise to expand our thinking of how 'life span' or 'time' would seem to another entity from their perspective.

Is time linear?  Click here for part two.

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