Monday, September 28, 2009

Lisa's Theorems of Time (as helped along by Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison)

by Lisa Hughey

I’m a bit of a geek. I like science. I like solid, physical evidence and proof that things exist. So when I started thinking about our topic, Time, I decided research was necessary. Turns out that time is a pretty complicated subject. Possibilities hover in the metaphysical realm as well as the physical.

Albert Einstein postulated that time is relative. It speeds up or slows down depending on how fast one thing is moving relative to something else. He also theorized that the closer we come to traveling at the speed of light, the more time would appear to slow down for us from the perspective of someone who, in relation to us, was not moving. He called the slowing of time due to motion, time dilation.

In the 1970's some scientists used atomic clocks to test Einstein’s theories. Two clocks. Both starting at exactly the same time. One clock set up on the ground. One clock flown around the world on a jet. When the jet landed back in the same place, it’s clock was behind the clock on the ground.

Einstein was right. Time had actually moved slower.

But I think the Einstein experiment missed an important fact. At the end of the experiment, both clocks ended up back on Earth in the exact same place. Proving Lisa’s first theorem of time: Even if the goal is to end up in the same place, everyone’s path (and the time to follow the path) is different.

Sophie (A Bad Day For Sorry) and Juliet (Secondhand Spirits) both have books out on the shelves right now. Their paths to publication were radically different. Not better or worse, just different. But they still ended up in the same place at the same time.

Lisa’s second theorem of time: Time is never wasted. The journey is as important as the destination because every experience we have leads us to where we are now.

Thomas Edison (to steal from National Treasure) tried and failed over a thousand times before inventing incandescent light. He has many things to say about failure but this one is most profound: "Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

It is never the time to give up.

You’ve probably guessed by now, I’m also a very big fan of the power of positive thinking and the importance of motivation. Einstein and Edison are both examples of people who tried and failed over and over but also succeeded over and over.

Which leads to Lisa’s third (and final) theorem of time: Time passes. Whether you put your effort toward your dreams or you just keep wondering and wishing you could... take a class in anthropology, learn to speak Farsi, travel to New York City, do a hundred pushups (, color your hair purple, or...write a novel. You won’t know unless you try. And whether you’re moving or standing still, you’ve got time.


ps. I didn’t realize I had theorems of time until I started working on this blog post which helped me to define in my own geeky way, the relativity of time.

pps. The info on Einstein comes from a PBS show, Nova.


Sophie Littlefield said...

No matter how many times you say it, I'll never get tired of hearing it...chanting: "Everyone's path is different" :)

Tom Neely said...

I spout theorems for a living. It's good stuff and keeps me in good standing with the geek of the month club. They have a special musician's chapter.

Judy H. said...

This reminds me of that story about a person who wanted to go back to school to get a degree. "But I'll be 50 (or whatever...) when I get out!" "And how old will you be in four years if you *don't* go to college?"

Unknown said...

Judy--*Exactly* :)

Tom--I spout theorems all the time, I'm just not sure anyone is listening *bg* (esp my teenagers)

Soph--i remind myself at least once a day.... :)

Martha Flynn said...

honorary doctorate for you!

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