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light reflection

researches on time

More rambling researches on time.

I have borrowed a hand held sundial, and yesterday managed to tell the time with it by setting the dial to February, holding it in the first bit of sunlight I had been side-on to for days, and looking to see where a spot of light hit the numbers inside the ring (it told between 4-5 in the afternoon, which seemed credible, as against my body clock).  You carry your own time with you with such a clock, although I imagine it will not be good anymore if I move too far north or south (or outwards). In this, it is like my body clock, but very much unlike our shared computer and national times – greenwich’s time? apple’s time? microsoft’s? Whoever it is that constructs and controls our shared time, it is clear that although no doubt world-changingly practical and handy for online meetings, it is stuck onto our lives from the outside. A bit like money, with which it is often equated, but with less flexibility, more limitations, and arguably more value. So anyway, I feel like we ought to be careful about believing in it too strongly.

As part of my researches into time, I have started reading a book about the physics of time called ‘The Order of Time’ by Carlo Rovelli  (see https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/24/carlo-rovelli-the-order-of-time-review ). It is very good, very clear, very dense and quite debilitating, and as far from common sense as you’d ever want to get.

The part about entropy is especially unpalatable and queasy-making. The writer says that time has to do with heat, which has to do with molecular movement. Also, he says that time’s arrow, its flow (directionality) is not intrinsic to the laws of the universe, its a feature of approximation – of our bodies not being able to perceive finely enough. Or at least thats what he seems to be saying. That the flow of time, the one thing that probably everyone who has ever lived could completely agree on, share and understand, the fact of existence which absolutely defines us, is just a matter of perspective, and doesn’t, as such, exist.

Later, maybe worse, he says there is no such thing as a shared present moment, not in a universal sense at least. Its just that all of us living people are (relatively speaking) very near to one another (within our planet say), and our bodies aren’t very good at measuring very short intervals of time, and therefore we all share the same ‘now’, give or take a few tiny intervals of time. But that ‘now’ is only a bubble of present moment, surrounding us and our world. Everywhere else doesn’t share our now. As with the body clocks, and to a certain extent the sundials, everyone has their own ‘now’ and we carry it with us. If we could get far enough away from one another, our nows would separate out and diverge. (I think at that point our sundials would be quite useless too).

Time to end this now.

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