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Time,
in Fiction,
& in Life

“It hardly matters if time is real;
at the very least
we talk as if it is.”
Robert Binnick ]
 

=  Many Icon Libraries  =
Science & Time included!
 
 
 
The current section is less devoted to fiction than to fact. It is a needed complement, I feel, to the sections dealing with science fiction and fantasy, in which the Time issue has come up, here and there.
 
So, this page can be thought of as some sort of reading companion to the pages in MieNet's Book section, and more especially so to the ones toward to top of the list that follows: Time-travel paradoxes have emerged on some of these pages above. Possibly the most popular of these paradoxes is that which involves someone traveling back in time and killing, for example, his grand-father, when the latter was still a young boy. How could then this time-traveller be born (at his time), if his grand-father had died before having children!?... Or would the grand-son die instantly, as he killed his then young grand-father?...
 
Likewise evoking such paradoxes is Star Trek's “Prime Directive,” which has not been mentioned on any of the pages above. This is a set of codes intended to guide interstellar conduct, among which codes is the prohibition of altering the natural course of development (i.e., the time-line) of civilizations that a crew may come in contact with. (This is of course rather controversial, as the mere coming in contact with a civilization already implies, by itself, a degree of alteration.)
 
Whatever the situation, it is evident from all these stories that Time and whatever course of Life run hand in hand. How about in what we call real life? Have you though of it?...
 
In addition to the fascinating accounts and paradoxes that literature provides us, there are a number of interesting aspects that characterize the entity Time, however it may be defined. For example, what do we see when we look at the night sky and see the stars? We see the past! For we see the sky as it was when light started traveling from each visible star.
 
Light takes time to travel and reach our eyes. Therefore, the more distant a star, the further in the past we see it. Even our own Sun, which is comparatively so close to us, we do not see it accurately in the Present! What we see lags approximately 8 minutes behind (i.e. the time it takes for the sunlight to reach us). But of course none of us (unless we are astronomers) will remember that the sky we see is not “real,” for it looks very real to us – so tells us our experience.
 
And, indeed, Time, as we, Humans, feel it and relate to it (see MieNet's section on Human Time and on Calendars) has a lot more to do with Life (i.e., experience), itself, than with the equations of physics.
 
In fact, since the advent of Einstein's Relativity, even the time of physics is no longer immune to Human perception (i.e. experience). In case you are not familiar with Relativity, and have no motivation or time to invest on your own insights at present, we can borrow an anecdote attributed to Einstein as a simple way to see that the Aristotelian and Newtonian idea of absolute measurements no longer held after Einstein.
 
Here are the words attributed to Einstein, copied from MieNet's Quotes on Time:
    When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour,
    it seems like a minute.
    But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute--and
    it's longer than any hour.
    That's relativity.

Although we owe our modern view on Time to Albert Einstein, I can think of no one better than the renouned British physicist Stephen Hawking for the non-fictional approach to Time which you may wish to have as a complementary view to Time as dealt with in whatever the fiction you may have read.
 
Hawking is one of the most influential scientists and thinkers of our time, a remarkable man who occupies Isaac Newton's chair and who, nonetheless, brilliantly succeeds also in writing non-technically, so as to make physics accessible to anyone.
 
Stephen Hawking's delightful A Brief History of Time (now with an updated and expanded edition) is an excellent complementary reading – whether it should be the only one or the beginning of a series for you.
 
In case Time is a topic that fascinates you, and you'd like to read further, for as long as my old time-related bibliography is not back on-line (here you can find out why), you are welcome to drop me a note for further titles. Check, as well, the CogniTime website, where you'll find a bit more on Time than is available at MieNet, and eventually a lot more! (There is quite a lot of material waiting to be properly formatted so it can be uploaded to CogniTime, ironically time lagging for lack of time.)
 
Hawking has written other books for the non-physicist. If you enjoy what you'll be tasting above, or if the Time issue does not interest you, then try The Universe in a Nutshell.
 
Hawking's book illustrated on the right was written
Enjoy F.Herbert's Prized Fiction!
cover
The Nature of
Space & Time

Stephen Hawking
& Roger Penrose
in cooperation with Roger Penrose, another renouned British physicist, who has been working also on the nature of consciousness and offers us very interesting insights.
 
Again, the CogniTime Web site will be offering plenty of material bearing on consciousness, insofar as Human experience of Time is concerned (though it will carry some wider bibliography). In the meantime, you are welcome to drop me a note for whatever further reference you may wish, as this is not the sort of topic that you'll find elaborated on MieNet.
 
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