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26 June 2012

Spending a litle time on time


Einstein, pondering what a beam of light would look like if one were to catch up to it, and what would happen to time once you had caught it, came up with the notion of the flexibility of time.  To greatly simplify things, the faster you move, the slower time goes.  So, if you were to fly at near the speed of light, time would virtually stop.  To put this is in a more realistic way, if you were to ride a fighter jet from LA to Boston at top speed, you would be fractionally ahead in time (and younger) than anyone who hadn’t traveled at such a speed.  Therefore every time you fly, drive, or move, and someone else does not, you are traveling through time at a different speed.  You, my friend, are a time traveler.

This brings up a rather interesting thought experiment:  Imagine I told you I had invented a time machine, but the machine only allowed the person to travel through time at the same speed as everyone else.  Have I invented a time machine if the speed the user travels though time equals the speed the non-user travels through time?  What if this machine is a supersonic plane, and the flyer moves fractionally faster through time than the non-flyer, but at the same rate as anyone flying at the same speed for the same duration?  Is this a time machine?

This brings me to a literary thought experiment.  What relationship does our memory have with time?  Is there Proustian time within the taste of a madeleine dipped in tea?  And can we ever recapture time by writing about it?  I would put forth that in writing about the past, even the fictional past, we come closer than we otherwise could in just attempting to remember the past.  In writing, we can extend the past, stretch it out, record not only it but our thoughts on it, and in that way we can give time the time to exist as it is, not as our imperfect memories recall it.



  1. Lovely reflections (of time). You were overdue for a post. (as are some others)

  2. Thank you. And I did notice a certain someone hasn't posted on his blog in well over a month. That needs to change, sir.