Day 95

Time Distancing … or where Einstein went wrong

I have often said – but not often enough, apparently – that if you want a peek into the mind of God, you should listen carefully to children’s conversations and questions. Male Teenager #2 came up with this cracker of a thought experiment the other day. Actually, he did not pose it as an experiment; he stated it as fact because, being a teenager, he knows everything and has no need of suppositions.

Says he to me on one of his breaks from being plugged into the interwobble through his blue-tooth (no idea what that means) headphones (not earphones, note: Male Teenager #2 does not care for earphones), “Do you know that if you got in a rocket and went enough light years away from Earth and then looked back at it through a telescope, you would see dinosaurs roaming about the planet?” Please refrain, as I did, from picking holes in this scenario, and just think about it for a while, and the science that the wee lad’s brain has picked up from somewhere in order to be able to state the scenario coherently.

A) He gets the fact that when we look up at the stars at night (it is generally better to do this at night), what we are seeing is not the stars as they are right now, but as they were some time in the past, given the fact that it takes a while for the light from the stars to reach our eyes. Quite a while, in some instances. So he knows that some of the stars we are looking at now in our present may not actually exist any more in our present, but we still see them as it takes a certain amount of time for the light they emit to get to us.

B) He extrapolates from this that, instead of being on the Earth looking up at the stars, if we were out there among the stars looking back at the Earth, what we would be seeing is the Earth not as it is in our present out there among the stars, but as it was some time in its past.

C) Instead of using this extrapolation to practise the much-neglected skill of predicting past events (copyright, Myles na Gopaleen), Male Teenager #2 reasons further that, in order to see dinosaurs, all you need to do is to get far enough away from the Earth so that the light you are seeing through your massive telescope is from the Earth so far in the past that it is the one that had the dinosaurs running about on it.

That’s a bit of mind-flip for a Sunday, isn’t it?

Any excuse for a mind-flip, Brad

I am considering uploading the statement to the wee lad’s Google Classroom with the following note: Dear Wee Lad’s Science Teacher, While wee lad did not actually do much of the work you uploaded for him to do while he was hiding at home from covidnovid, have a look at what he actually did come up with through his own research on the interwobble. I feel it displays a certain grasp of Einstein’s mistaken pronouncements on the relativity of Time as well as a nascent understanding of the dynamics of physics relevant to space travel. As such, I would expect nothing less than an A grade in his Summer report, notwithstanding the fact that he has completed little or none of the work set for him. Signed: The Wee Lad’s Daddy.

Summer, you see? Apparently it is Summer in this hemisphere, but Winter if you are reading this in the Southern Hemisphere. As for whether it is the start of Summer (as the Brits mistakenly think) or the middle of Summer (as the Irish language correctly tells us it is), is a debate for another day. [Those call-backs? And there’s another one; have you done your homework? – Ed.] (Not yet, and school is nearly out for Summer.) [Could we have that video please? – Ed.] (Oh, all right; I’m in a good mood cos it’s Sunday.)

So, although it is 21 June, 2020, in both hemispheres, it is Winter in one of them and Summer in the other, and neither really if you happen to be in one of the regions on Earth that does not really have seasons. See, Einstein? It is not just Time that is relative, it is the weather too. And, as it happens, one word has aspects of both in the aul tongue, namely aimsir, as in aimsir chaite, aimsir ghnáthláithreach etc and the aimsir that you see out your window when you look properly out your window.

Back to God, it being Sunday and all and there still being no hurling to distract us. I have told you before that Time is an illusion [have you?- Ed.](maybe not here, but surely they are doing research and reading my other writings?), and it certainly is if you are God. (You are not God, by the way, in case of any confusion.) As the wee lad’s scenario pointed out, all you need to do for all possible presents of Earth to be available to you, is to adjust your distance from Earth; a mere bagatelle of a trick for God, who is currently so far away from Earth that he has apparently left us up to our own devices.

As for the holes in the wee lad’s scenario, if you have not worked them out yet, leave a comment, or email me. But do not tell him!

p.s. I am aware that the wee lad could have just cut and pasted the whole scenario from the interwobble into his conversation without having gone through the thought processes above, but I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt; he is only 12 after all.


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