THOUGHTS ON TIME

WRITTEN BY DS

2008 is a leap year, and therefore we have one more day this year on 29 Feb. I think it should be declared a public holiday since we are not paid to work an extra day in the year (any seconder?). Woe to those who are born on 29 Feb as they have their true birthday anniversaries only once in 4 years.

Those of you who have worked on Y2K projects may recall that leap year determination isn’t just to test whether the year is divisible by 4 like we were taught in intermediate/high schools. If it is divisible by 100, that year isn’t a leap year, unless it is also divisible by 400. By this rule, the average number of days in a year will be 365.2425 (365 + 1/4 − 1/100 + 1/400). The formula isn’t exactly equal to the actual 365.242374, but well that would be a problem for the future (assuming that the future is still there). Why isn’t this figure a round number, you may ask. Well too bad our ancestors thought more about the day than the year, and divided the day into 24 hours, which we then get our years, minutes and seconds. And what’s a second? It’s the duration of exactly 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a Cesium-133 atom! How’s that for round numbers?

When I think about time, I can’t help thinking about Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the 20th century. Time just wasn’t the same after he published his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905. The theory has many consequences, the most familiar being E = mc2, but one other consequence is the mind boggling fact (yes, it has been verified/proven) that time is relative, not absolute. In other words, my one second or one year, could be different from yours, that is, if our states of motion are different. One catch though – the state of motion or speed in the context has to be a large fraction of the speed of light, a blinding speed of 300,000km per second. What’s that good for, you may ask. Well, theoretically, I could take a spaceship out for 40 years (as it takes a long time to build up to such a high speed) and return to earth 48,000 years later, because my 40 years would be 48,000 earth years. How’s that for long life?

I have other thoughts of time that have no answers yet. For example, is the future already made? Is the past still present, so that I can go back to it? Can time stay still? Why isn’t time absolute? Did God create the world in only 6 days? What’s the speed of time in heaven?

Probably the most practical to all of us is how we can slow down time for ourselves so that we could do a lot more in the same amount of time!!

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