Time: Discovery

A friend recently turned me on to Nautilus – a self-proclaimed “different kind of science magazine,” that weaves science together with philosophy and culture. Each issue has a general theme and is comprised of 4-5 chapters, one published every week, and each containing a few different articles.

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The current issue is Time: mysteries of the moment. Considering time is a topic with which many of us are intimately familiar (we make it, spend it, kill it, waste it, give it, and occasionally even enjoy it…), the authors’ abilities to make me see time through new lenses is pretty welcomed. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Chapter 1: Discovery:

The very first line of the introduction:

There’s a ticking bomb in the corner of your awareness. The danger isn’t the bomb, though—it’s the clock. Time, that most pedestrian, over-measured, and tightly regulated quantity of our daily lives, is in a perpetual state of crisis.

A great metaphor from Over time, Buddhism and science agree:

All things, especially living ones, are marinating in the river of time.

A discussion of how we talk about time in Life is a braid in Spacetime:

We find it completely normal to ask someone “what’s the time?” implying that there is such a thing as the time, and that there are inherent properties of time. But we would probably never ask someone “what’s the place?” We’d instead ask something along the lines of “where am I?” which highlights that we’re asking about a property of ourself, not of place. But when we ask what the time is, aren’t we really intending to ask the same thing as when we ask where we are? Essentially, aren’t we asking, “where am I in time?”

Our language reveals how differently we think of space and time: The first as a static stage, and the second as something flowing. Despite our intuition, however, the flow of time is an illusion.

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And a final quote from In search of time’s origin:

Mounting evidence shows that at the most basic level of reality, time is an illusion, and stranger still, that time doesn’t really exist.

This statement is either incredibly comforting (ah, I don’t have to worry so much about time if it doesn’t even exist) or terrifying (my whole life is based on time – how can it not exist?!)

After reading chapter 1, I must admit that I still don’t really know what time is, but the articles suggest that we’re all pretty confused about it and have been for many years. I guess that just gives us more to think, write, and read about.

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