Wednesday Open Thread: Tempus is fugiting, or is it?

It's Day 346 of the Year 2018 CE
So, December 12, 2018 - for my reference if nothing else.


clocks.jpg


Perhaps we'll never know. This is the great question of our time and perhaps of all time. It is no doubt from some perceptions quite simple, go ask Alice. She was participant in the following great discussion in Wonderland:

“Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,' she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.'

`If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, `you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's him.'

`I don't know what you mean,' said Alice.

`Of course you don't!' the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!'

`Perhaps not,' Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.'

`Ah! that accounts for it,' said the Hatter. `He won't stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he'd do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o'clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you'd only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!”
-Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

The Hatter hints at the possibility of time's non-uniformity, but for Alice it is really quite simple. Alice reflexively thinks of time signatures, although even in that frame of reference there is complexity. There is "cut time", 2/4, 4/4, 3/4, and, quite famously, 5/4:

Nonetheless, such "time" has a regularity and certainty to it, depending upon how much you trust your metronome to keep a steady and regular beat. Does it? How can you tell? Chronometers, atomic clocks and the like seemingly give reliable measures of the passage of time, but do they?

Beginning physics students are taught that time is a dimension, a measurement of which is integrated into or derived from many equations relating other things. Distance = speed (or velocity) times time. Alternatively, speed (or velocity) = distance divided by time. Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with respect to time and is generally expressed as meters per second squared. Final velocity = initial velocity plus acceleration times time. Distance = 1/2 times acceleration times time. Little marks on the ruler or axis of time, beats of the chronometer, but time's rate of passage is, in fact variable, as hinted at by the Mad Hatter. Einstein handed us time dilation and I'll hand this off to the wiki:

According to the theory of relativity, time dilation is a difference in the elapsed time measured by two observers, either due to a velocity difference relative to each other, or by being differently situated relative to a gravitational field.

This isn't really a great problem for either of those observers, however, because to them time is constant, they cannot know otherwise.
Those physics students also learn that velocity and acceleration are vectors, but time is not explicitly so defined. It is treated as if it were scalar, but it really can't be, because time is unidirectional, but it isn't subject to the rules of vector computation either. You can explore this further here: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/59782/is-time-a-scalar-or-a-... This is in part trickery relating to the difference between time and the passage of time, and between time in 3 dimensions and time as a dimension in and of itself, and therein lies the problem.

Way back, Zeno's paradox highlighted the problem with time and the passage of time. If time is truly scalar, pure number, marks on a stick, then no matter how finely you slice the time, nothing can move or transpire within any time quanta, so how can anything possibly move between them. Democritus dealt with this by simply pointing out that we see stuff move, and that's that. One answer is that time is a continuum, time flows, it is not divided into discrete quanta and we and all else flow with it, hence Heraclitus was able to say:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

But is this really a viable answer?

The problem of time, the problem with time, is that we do not experience time in any direct sense. That is to say, we do not directly experience the flow of time. Really? Absolutely, perhaps. I got up this morning, and looking across the room, I clearly saw distance, it could be said that as I walked I paced off distance, but this is less clearly so, for there is a sense in which I cannot experience the flow of distance either, though I can percieve it in a manner in which I cannot percieve time. How so? Essentially, we cannot experience the future or the past, only the present. We are stuck in the here and now, and, like zeno's arrow at any moment during which we are sensate, we are not moving in space or time, we are in one fixed locus in space-time. Time is a construct that we deduce from the fact that we believe that we have experienced a past and that said past was linear with respect to this time construct. If we sit very still and try to grasp it with our mind's eye, it isn't there. We are sure that there is a future and that our remembrances are a record as past futures that became momentarily present and then were history, but, in reality, tomorrow never comes, it is always now.

This is, for what it's worth, a somewhat contentious topic and issue in modern physics. There was a recent post on the Scientific American blog that is short, non technical, and well worth a read: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/do-we-actually-experie... No less a person than erwin Schroedinger said:

“Time no longer appears to us as a gigantic, world-dominating chronos, nor as a primitive entity, but as something derived from phenomena themselves. It is a figment of my thinking.”

He, of course gave us the cat with no future, an indeterminate juxtoposition of potentialities that only became capable of having a future once it was observed in the present. In a broader sense, we are stuck in a place with no time, because the present has no duration, duration requires that we move from now into the future, but when we get there it will still be now.

(Image: Project 366 #135: 140512 All Together Now, by Pete)

OK, it's an open thread, so go for it ...

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QMS's picture

Wish I had the 'time' to fully explore your presentation. Will have to wait till 'later'. Time to go. Guess who?

Cheers!

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enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
now planning my day and knowing that it won't go as planned, but will, nonetheless find me making dinner later after the sun has risen and then departed while still knowing that I can't experience the flow of time. Later, when the day fully begins, I will be like alice in the kingdom of the Red Queen, running just as fast as she can simply in order to stay in one place, this eternal here and now. Cognitive dissonance isn't remotely problematic once you fully buy into the absurd.

The oligarchs rely upon the linearity of time to keep these guys from returning, but perhaps their echoes still might:
Trio1

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris

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It didn't have to be this way.

Although I know full well that our years are our invention, our minds tend to operate differently despite our rationality. At least mine does. And there is, of course, a correlation between our year and the movement of our planet with respect to the sun. Believing, however, that a year is lucky or unlucky, however, is silly. So I will color my own self silly. Yet, I cannot wait for this forking year to end and a hopefully better one to begin. So, whether 2018 was a good or a bad year for you, I hope that 2019 is a better year for everyone on the planet.

Out with the old, in with the new. No matter which December holiday you celebrate (or avoid), year end is a great time to rid yourself of things you neither want nor need. Toxic relationship? If it is never going to de-toxify, lose it, if only mentally. Resolve that you will never let it toxify you again. Shoes, briefcase, whatever. It's not a matter of age or condition, per so. If, for whatever reason, it is more of a burden than a blessing, toss it. And just for giggles, before midnight on December 31, make sure every trash container under your control is either empty and clean or outdoors. Try to leave yourself no chores, too.

Out with the old; in with the new. It used to apply to those who were elected to public office, who took their seats on January 1, though sometimes the calender was played with to allow incumbents who were not re-elected more time in office. As is the case with many traditions, we can adapt them to make good use of it in our lives.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@HenryAWallace @HenryAWallace
bringing the rebirth of the sun, Mitras. Mitras has had many names and guises over the years and is the bringer of the celebratory party once named Saturnalia. Saturnalia for Saturn, the god of agriculture, libation(s) and time. He is the Roman re-write of Cronus, big daddy time, the father of the gods, who is often conflated with yet distinct from the actual god of time, Chronos. This is their time of the season, so to speak.

Traditionally this is a season of endings and beginnings, a sort of annual gateway in time. Like any gate, it conjures up images of Janus, the two faced god who looks both to the future and the past.(while living solely in the now, I might add). He is not to be confused with Politicus, the two faced lying sack-of-shit, eternally cast out for hie perfidy only to be replaced by a younger two-faced clone of the original sob, who will slowly morph into the original traitor to the meaning of polity.

All that said, have a great day and a fulfilling house-cleaning.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

I like marking time with the movement of the heavens, and we're coming up on a marker....the solstice in a week or so. I've got a large pile of limbs and power line cuttings to burn...probably the Sat after the solstice. And like pagan fore-bearers I'll bring back the light of the sun. Here's a nice chronometer I saw last September...
sundial.jpg
...and another much older Irish version
irish sundial.jpg

People have long sought to track time...perhaps it is a human obsession.

Well hope you have a good time today. I'm painting my roof later so I'll have a full day (albeit a short one due to the coming of the solstice)

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout

was so critical to their survival. They noted that the start of the flooding coincided with a certain position in the sky of a certain star; and they let that determine their calculation of a year. Then some Greek or Macedonian came along and messed up the Egyptian year. However, even that messed up calculation was light years better than the Ancient Roman year, which was a mess on steroids. So, when Caesar, whose original duties had included wrestling with the hopeless Roman calendar met Cleopatra, he attempted to bring that year home with him in the person of a Greek? Macedonian? astronomer. However, over time, that year went to hell, what with winter holidays rearing their festive heads in Spring and vice versa.

When Rome flipped from pagans persecuting Christians to Christians persecuting everyone else, emperors began handing over to the Pope their duties, alone with their titles and prerogatives. Hence, the Pope got to be the boss of time. Initially, that was only for the Catholic world. When Christmas began falling during weather more suited to Easter bonnets, Pope Gregory decided to do something about it. Or, rather, to get some knowledgeable people to do something about it.

At first, only "Papist" nations adopted the result of that effort, aka, the Gregorian calendar. However, in time, one by one, nations in which another faith predominated abandoned the Julian/Augustan calendar, which had no leap day. And now, some mystifying (at least to me) mechanism somewhere silently adjusts for stray seconds for which even the Gregorian leap day does not account.

Still, when last I checked, the world's most accurate calendar is not solar, but lunar. It is the Iranian calendar, governed by the moon as seen in Teheran.

And don't even ask about the International Date Line. Drawn by some Western businessmen in Greenwich who could not have cared less about the good folk of Tonga, it left family members in the kitchen of some homes wallowing in December 31, 1852 while their relatives in the living room were recovering from hangovers on January 1, 1853. Even all members of my dysfunctional family woke during the same year!

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout
Great chronometers. I have long wanted to make one of that ilk in the shape of Dali's watch in the painting appropriately named "The Persistence of Memory".

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

@enhydra lutris

dali.jpg

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Back in the olden days before TSA and DHS, flying home from JFK to SFO would take about 3 hours depending on tail wind, so we landed when we took off. One time it was sunset on both coasts. Time travel can be fun. here now
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-voyager-2-probe-enters-interst...

Voyager 2 now is slightly more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth. Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters this new phase of its journey, but information – moving at the speed of light – takes about 16.5 hours to travel from the spacecraft to Earth. By comparison, light traveling from the Sun takes about eight minutes to reach Earth.

That news gave a trekkie VGER flashback, good one. Oort! now that is a Cloud I can relate to, right on.

While the probes have left the heliosphere, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have not yet left the solar system, and won’t be leaving anytime soon. The boundary of the solar system is considered to be beyond the outer edge of the Oort Cloud, a collection of small objects that are still under the influence of the Sun’s gravity. The width of the Oort Cloud is not known precisely, but it is estimated to begin at about 1,000 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun and to extend to about 100,000 AU. One AU is the distance from the Sun to Earth. It will take about 300 years for Voyager 2 to reach the inner edge of the Oort Cloud and possibly 30,000 years to fly beyond it.

Speaking of clouds, wtf is chaff? I had to look it up on the wiki:

... is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre(fiber) or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns.

Modern armed forces use chaff (in naval applications, for instance, using short-range SRBOC rockets) to distract radar-guided missiles from their targets. Most military aircraft and warships have chaff dispensing systems for self-defense. An intercontinental ballistic missile may release in its midcourse phase several independent warheads as well as penetration aids such as decoy balloons and chaff.

after reading this article:
What's that up in the sky? A weather radar mystery unfolds in the Tri-State

Since a little before 3 p.m. CST Monday, the station's crew has been tracking something on its radar. And we say "something" because the meteorologists at the station aren't sure what caused a radar return to begin showing up over Southern Illinois, then drifting over Southern Indiana and into Western Kentucky.
...
UPDATE:
In the wee hours of the night, an answer to the mystery emerged. WEHT meteorologist Wayne Hart said a pilot told him that the air control tower at Evansville Regional Airport reported a chaff release from a military C-130 northwest of the city.

The National Weather Service then added another detail that explained the unusually slow movement of the chaff:

"Upper level winds can be much stronger this time of year. However, winds aloft late Monday averaged 10 to 15 mph from the north northwest. That would explain the rather slow movement and slow dispersion of the chaff debris."

Ground level hot chaff return. huh

Reached by phone late Monday evening, National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Meffert said the office had been tracking the return at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, but returns were also showing up at ground level.

"It might be chaff released from an aircraft, but we've never seen it quite this hot," said Meffert.

(I asked him what he meant by "hot" and Meffert said it was a description of how strong the material was showing up on radar.)

tax dollars at work

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enhydra lutris's picture

@eyo
as a concept was brought to us by WWII. Many a savvy, or possibly not so savvy, person way back in the day used to try to replicate the radar confusing propensities of same by loading their hubcaps part full with tiny bits of foil and steel wool. It was alleged that police radar guns would go bonkers, but I don't really know if it worked or not.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

engenders from time to time)

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enhydra lutris's picture

@HenryAWallace

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Say you're an ancient Roman and you want to meet a fellow ancient Roman for lunch at some nice establishment. How the heck are you going to coordinate with your friend? There are no clocks. The idea of 1:30 PM hadn't been invented yet, I don't think. How did non-slave workers know when the shift starts or ends or what time is the lunch break. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe clocks = stress. Maybe clocks = control.

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Beware the bullshit factories.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Timmethy2.0
times there were even portable ones. Presumably the hoi polloi could also estimate from shadows of local surroundings. Water clocks go back to at least 1600 BCE and could een be used to time and schedule shift work (where such exited, like in the Roman army) evenat night. Large public sundials and water clocks were established in villages, towns and cities. At night there was also the progression of celestial objects across the sky. The ancients were far more closely in tune with these phenomena than we are. When I did my hippie time in the woods, I got quite good at telling the time at night by the stars, and though I don't recall the patterns any more, there are a plentitude of cheat sheets, just as there must've been memnonics and other memory tricks back in the clay tablet days.

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@enhydra lutris
Thank you for that.

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Azazello's picture

I've been watching vids from this year's Baja 1000 in November.
As someone who has done 1000s of miles on desert roads, including one trip that nearly matches this year's race route, I love watching Trophy Trucks. A motorcycle won this year but, in general, the fastest way down a dirt road is in a Trophy Truck. These aren't really trucks at all but specialized racing vehicles; rear-mid-engine, 2 wheel drive and insane suspension travel. Check it out.

Have a nice day.

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It didn't have to be this way.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
I had the opportunity to take the owner of moderately new 4X4 SUV into Needles to pick up replacements for some parts and supports which had broken from the repetitive pounding of the washboard roads and off-road byways in one of my raggedy assed 2WD pick ups which had just traversed same with no problemo. I suspect that a minimally competent driver can break just about anything while an old desert rat, given enough time, can go damn near anywhere in an old Austin A-40 with proper tires and gear (sandbags, canvas mats, tire pump, etc). Of course, at speed is another matter.

Thanks for reading and thanks for the video.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello
techniques (something of an instinct, I guess). One guy immediately reminded me of a long ago Graham Hill in F1/Group 9 with his "go deep, brake hard, power out" style.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
like at the start in Ensenada, they all list a few degrees to starboard from the torque effect of their engines.

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NCTim's picture

@Azazello FIFY

A motorcycle won this year but, in general, the fastest way down a dirt road is inon a Trophy Truck motorcycle.

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

Azazello's picture

@NCTim

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NCTim's picture

@Azazello Looks and sounds like a big thumper. Old guys, like me, go a bit slower on something bigger. One of the stable inhabitants:

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

Azazello's picture

@NCTim @NCTim
like the one that won in '68.

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magiamma's picture

morning el et al...

Time Flies.jpg

thanks for the ot. have a good one...

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
yourself.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

this guy I used to work with back in the day is way into atomic clocks..

"If you have one clock ... you are peaceful and have no worries," says Van Baak, fingering a length of cable connecting two of his machines. "If you have two clocks ... you start asking, 'What time is it, really?'"

Van Baak is in a better position to answer that question than most. He's part of a community of about 400 geek hobbyists taking advantage of a glut of surplus precision timekeeping gear to pursue a serious interest in very precise timekeeping. They call themselves Time Nuts, and they spend their spare cycles collecting, repairing, tweaking – and occasionally using – super-precise clocks.

With the end of the Cold War, and with telecommunications technology advancing rapidly, surplus stores and eBay have filled up with discarded precision time equipment once beyond the reach of all but governments. Cesium clocks, rubidium clocks and even the occasional hydrogen maser can be had for less than a decent laptop. A recent search on eBay turned up an HP 5061B cesium standard for sale for $2,000, and you can get a telecom surplus rubidium standard for less than $400. Some of this equipment costs upwards of $50,000 new.

Their access to once-forbidden technology lets the time hackers play in a realm of precision that underpins the modern technological world

. A select few, like Van Baak, have started exploring the underpinnings of the universe .

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
clocks? That would be fun to mess with.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

NCTim's picture

I think the reason I like to go fast is because time slows down. I can't find it, but I remember reading about the lunar astronauts time slow down. It was estimated that they were about three minutes behind the scalar measurement.

Thanks for taking the time for the OT.

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

enhydra lutris's picture

@NCTim
and never stops:

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --