Understanding the Space-Time Continuum…sort of
This week has been a mad game of jet lag plus catch up that has my mind and body reeling. Through this fog of tasks and commitments I have been thinking a lot about time. What is time? How do I experience time? How does place change time?…etc. Mind boggling! At first glance time is a simple concept; sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset. In Genesis 1:3-5 we are told, “God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. And God say that the light was good. God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness Night. And there was evening and there was morning the first day.” Simple right?
Last Monday I was in my studio and happened to catch the days broadcast of NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross (http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/132932268/a-physicist-explains-why-parallel-universes-may-exist ). Gross had on Physicist and writer Brian Greene. Green has just come out with a book in which he attempts to explain such heady concepts as String theory, Quantum Mechanics, and Multiple Universes to us regular folks. He theorizes that there are multiple universes in time and space, we just haven’t figured out how to prove it yet. In the first chapter of his book “The Hidden Reality: Parallel universes and the deep laws of the cosmos” Greene tells a charming story of how he became fascinated with the idea of parallel universes at a very young age. His bedroom had mirrors facing each other on opposite walls and upon looking at the dueling reflections he could see “image after image populating the parallel glass planes- extending back as far as the eye could discern”. I am sure we have all had this experience of peering into parallel mirrors raising and arm and watching twins in space bouncing back between the planes of the mirrors waving back at us. For my part this is as far as I can go in understanding parallel universes folding in on top of each other. But it did get me thinking about time and that time is not as simple as it seems. On the drive to school today my fourteen-year-old son explained “relative time” to me, at that moment I nodded my head and understood what he was saying but by the time I had dropped him off and was a block away it was all a little fuzzy. And what about “real time” to see things in real time is to see them while they are happening, right? But can we truly experience something somewhere else in the world in real time or otherwise?
Oh no, now I have my head spinning again. I do know one thing, I have experienced time on a variety of levels. I can understand a certain quality of time. Quantity of time seems unchangeable, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour and so forth, this we can’t change. But the experience of that time, how it speeds up and slows down depending on place and action (as an equation could it be PxA=Time?). When my little family and I go to our place in the redwoods, time slows down. We have no cell service, we have no internet, we cook, we read, we play games, we walk. At our Creekside home we often say “time bends”. It is the quality of time that has changed, not time itself. Perhaps it is impossible to bend time if you don’t experience jogging along in a mad race with time, if you were always resting and reflecting would time bend anymore? Oh dear, just when I thought I had a hold of something it’s slipping through my fingers again.
I am interested to hear your thoughts on time and space and your place in it. Try to bend time this weekend, I hope to.