The Perception of Time

Any discussion of Time tends to veer off into the metaphysical, but let’s try and keep it logical, for now.

We exist in an eternal now. I am writing this now, you are reading this now. I can’t write this tomorrow, and you can’t read this yesterday. I’m also editing this sentence now… and just added this bit.

Is Time a substance, one that can be traveled and navigated by some advanced civilization? Or is Time something we made up to measure rotation…

So rooted is our belief in the existence of the mythological Time that when atomic clocks were sent hurtling into space and came back down showing the wrong time people fervently believed that time itself had altered.

You see, scientists don’t define time in the same way us mere mortals do.

Satellites need to be adjusted to account for time dilation…. or is it just the changing effect of gravity? A clock is not time, any more than a ruler coming back from space slightly warped, does not mean that space itself had warped, merely that the ruler had escaped enough of Earth’s pull to have its atoms jiggled. Anyway, if space warped around you you wouldn’t know it, because you are not in space, you are space, you’d warp with it. If Time exists and it warped, you wouldn’t know it.

As we get older our perception of time changes. Our internal film camera starts taking images at a slower rate, resulting in us feeling like events are speeding up. Nothing is as slow to a child as waiting in a queue, it seems to last an age, largely because there are so many frames per second whizzing past a child’s fresh mind that even things adults find pleasing, like a walk in the garden, can seem drawn out and tedious to a sprucely mind. To an old person the days seem to whiz by. People actually do things merely ‘to pass the time’, a practice I find thoroughly wasteful.

Time is our most precious substance. Yet we can never buy time, we can only give it to other people, so to speak. Being time-efficient means we can do a lot more with our time. Time is a constant, as constant as the Earth rotating the Sun.

Time appears to speed up as we get older. Once the machinery of the brain’s film camera wears out it loses accuracy, the old gears start slipping, the light fades a little, and images take longer to form coherently. Images, experiences, are processed at a slower rate, which makes time appear to speed up.

If time travel exists where are all the time travelers?

Let’s say, for arguments sake, that time travel is actually possible and that at some point in the future some clever-clogs will invent it. This does not mean that our time has advanced enough now for time travel to be invented yet. The invention of time travel hasn’t happened yet, so we won’t see time travelers, but they might see us. It all gets quite confusing. As the old adage goes, you can never go back.

It is likely that time travel is not possible, but never say never.


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