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Letter From America: Farewell To Time - Almost

...That reminds me of the lad who went home from Sunday School and who in answer to his mother’s question as to what he had learned there, said, "Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and when they got to the shores of the Red Sea they all climbed inside this massive space ship and zoomed to the moon before Pharaoh’s soldiers could bring them back."

"They taught you that at Sunday School?" gasped his flabbergasted mother.

"Not exactly, mother. But if I told you what they told me, you’d never believe it!"...

Ronnie Bray goes on a speculative journey into the deeper reaches of space and time, by way of doggie sandwiches.

To read more of Ronnie's exuberant words please click on Letter From America in the menu on this page.

It has always been a mystery to me how identical twins could set off on separate journeys, one from Cape Canaveral to London and back, and the other from Cape Canaveral to the far side of Mars and back with both returning to the Cape at the same point in time with one having grown older than the other. If you feel tempted to enlighten me, I should warn that whatever you say I will not understand. It is quite beyond me.

I have plodded my pedestrian way through life in the company of four dimensions, the first, one-dimensional, which cannot exist, the second, two-dimensional that is as impossible as one-dimensional, because even a faint pencil line on paper has a depth although it is measurable only in zillicrons or micronanosecobytes, or something. The third, three-dimensional, is probably the only true dimension, since the first and second all exhibit three measurements, if you know how to measure properly, and the fourth dimension is something dreamed up to kick start a failing interest in science fiction, and posits time as a separate dimension from things we can measure with a ruler or micronanosecobyteometer (available at all good hardware shops).

Now ‘String Theorists’ announce that our universe and everything anywhere else has at least – note the guarded conservatism – eleven dimensions, and possibly as many as twenty-six, but holes bored ready for more if and when they posit them, some of them either represent time of various types, or else prove that time does not really exist.

Put at its simplest, and according to the Official String Theory website, "A ‘string’ is a one-dimensional object, meaning that if you want to travel along a string, you can only go forwards or backwards in the direction of the string, there is no sideways or up and down on a string. The string can move sideways or up and down in spacetime, though, and as the string moves around in spacetime, it sweeps out a surface in spacetime called the string worldsheet, a two-dimensional surface with one dimension of space and one dimension of time."

The string worldsheet is the key to all the physics of the string. A string oscillates as it travels through the d-dimensional spacetime. Those oscillations can be viewed from the two-dimensional string worldsheet point of view as oscillations in a two-dimensional quantum gravity theory. In order to make those quantized oscillations consistent with quantum mechanics and special relativity, the number of spacetime dimensions has to be restricted to 26 in the case of a theory with only forces (bosons), and 10 dimensions if there are both forces and matter (bosons and fermions) in the particle spectrum of the theory.

That reminds me of the lad who went home from Sunday School and who in answer to his mother’s question as to what he had learned there, said, "Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and when they got to the shores of the Red Sea they all climbed inside this massive space ship and zoomed to the moon before Pharaoh’s soldiers could bring them back."

"They taught you that at Sunday School?" gasped his flabbergasted mother.

"Not exactly, mother. But if I told you what they told me, you’d never believe it!"

Some String Theorists are saying that time might not exist, and I although I have tried to accommodate such a thing, my mind rejects it totally, and for sane and sensible reasons.

Let us, for the sake of advanced scientific research, say that time does not exist. There is no time except that which mankind has imposed on itself in order to sell clocks, watches, and calendars. Yet despite our rejection of time as the blatant commercialisation of human life by horologists, chronologists, calendar printers, and almanac writers, the notion of time is not so easily dispensed with, and I will explain why.

When I neglect to wear my wristwatch I become anxious to know at what point the day is at; when I wake in the night I glance at the illuminated clock to see how much of the night is spent; and if I feel the white hot fangs of hunger pangs gnawing at my vitals, I survey one of the many timepieces we keep ticking away to see if it is time to eat. Yes, I am timebound, I confess. Being forced to work for a living made me nervous about time, and my army service made me increasingly so, and such habits are probably unbreakable.

But what of the effects of time on beings that have no understanding of time, clocks, watches, sundials, henges, dolmens, gnomons, calends, zodiacs, lunar phases, seedtime, or harvest? Chanticleer knows only that dawn is breaking. He does not differentiate between summer and winter light, nor does he take into account daylight savings schemes. He is a mere photomaton: an engine initiated and propelled by the appearance of illumination without reference to his own will or cravings.

Wise people place blackout curtains over the cages of their captive birds at night to fool their little prisoners into believing that night has fallen. They are easily fooled and fall silent until their gaolers raise the curtain to illumine their confined worlds.

However, dogs are of a different order. My two beauties, although highly intelligent - one has her PhD and the other one is cramming for her masters – neither own nor use timepieces. Yet they have unerring senses of time, regulated by our habit of feeding them more or less at regular times each day.

Each evening, Frankie comes to notify me that it wants but thirty minutes until the dish goes down, and if I am tardy with their morning sandwiches, I receive pathetic and insistent attention from a pair of brown eyes that would melt a turnip. She comes to my side, lifts her paw to touch my leg, and looks straight up into my eyes. She knows it is ‘time’ for her dinner. I suppose that when you get two meals a day, plus treats, that you keep a close eye on the time.

They never look at a chronometer yet they know when it is sandwich time – 9 30 am – and dinner time – 8 pm – and treat time – 5 pm. How do they do it? Like people, dogs have biological clocks. Their internal clocks keep time and tell them when it is time to eat, or pile into the rig for a trip to the Dog Park. These clocks are not acquired, transplanted, donated, nor bought from eBay, but they are there and they work. They are natural, and necessary to maintain their canine digestive systems replete with nourishment.

So just consider for a moment what would happen if theorists discover that time does not exists? Besides the obvious benefits of no one ever being late for anything again – how can you be late, or early, if there is no time? – it would throw our dogs into confusion. Not only that, but we wouldn’t know when it was time to feed them or time to feed ourselves, so the whole blooming lot of us would starve to death.

Railway, airport, and bus timetables would be inoperative, because they are all time-based, and if there is no time, then the bases are done away with. There are other arguments that point to the existence of absolute time in our universe, some of them are complicated, but all I need to convince me that time exists is a pair of beautiful brown eyes and an intent look on the face of our Border Collie.

Gotta go. Belle is telling me it’s time to play!

Copyright © 2006 – Ronnie Bray
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Other stories at:
http://www.2theheart.com/author_ronnie_bray
http://www.meridianmagazine.com/voices/011024summer.html

If your mind goes blank - how do you know?



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