Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Illusion of Time

Time is a very precious commodity -- I often wonder where it has all gone and how much I have left.

I even lose an hour every spring when we switched back to Daylight Savings Time and won’t get it back until fall. Daylight Savings Time was a temporary measure introduced by Congress during World War One to conserve energy. Like most temporary measures heaped upon us by the government, it’s still with us. Perhaps, one of these days, word will drift back to Washington that World War One is over. Be sure to let them knew we won.

There was once a time when there was no such thing as time.  Life on earth proceeded from future to present to past without much dismay.  Then along came some idiot who invented the alarm clock and spoiled it for all of us.

Time was probably invented by a bunch of German scientists, ingenious old geezers with bad haircuts who needed another factor to add to their mathematical equations.

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein

They started by defining one complete revolution of the earth around the sun as a Year and one complete period of rotation of the earth on its axis as a Day.  Unfortunately, this resulted in 365.24219 Days per Year and caused much confusion among calendar creators.

At that point logic no longer seemed to matter so they split a Day into two equal divisions of 12 periods called Hours.  Then they divided each Hour into 60 increments called Minutes and each Minute into 60 increments called Seconds.

It all seemed to make sense to the German scientists at the time, probably too much schnapps.

Interestingly, the conception of 60 minutes and 60 seconds dates back 6,000 years to Babylon in the ancient Sumerian Empire (present day Iraq).

The Sumerians were the first known people to develop a written language. They also developed the sexagesimal numbering system, based on the number 60. This base 60 system has filtered down to today -- 60 minutes, 60 seconds, 360 degrees in a circle (6 X 60), 24 hours in a day (6 + 6 + 6 + 6), 12 signs of the Zodiac (6 + 6), 12 months of the year (6 + 6), etc.

In our endless search for perfection, the atomic clock at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., has an accuracy of 1 millionth of a second and will gain or lose less than 1 second every 10 million years.  Not to be outdone, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been given a government grant to design a space clock that will be at least ten times more accurate than previous devices.

Apparently, time is so valuable it must be measured beyond rational comprehension -- it's always comforting to know our tax dollars are going to such worthwhile purposes.

To the young, time is endless.
To the elderly, time is fleeting.
To the ambitious, time is money.
To the suffering, time is agony.
To the philosopher, time is an illusion.
To the physicist, time is a dimension.

There is a time to reap and a time to sow.
And a time to end a topic -- time to go.

Quote for the Day -- "Time flies like an arrow -- fruit flies like a banana." Groucho Marx

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where time you enjoy wasting, is never really wasted.

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