Light and Time

Craig and I were talking recently about the speed of light and whether or not we (as the human race) have been living under false impressions.

Neither of us are scientists, but Craig’s theory was that if light itself is a particle, then theoretically it could have force applied to it, moving it along quicker.  This could mean that the speed of light is not a constant.  For instance, if there is an explosion somewhere, would the momentum of the ball of fire and energy make light travel quicker at the time of the blast?  Would our eyes see the light from that area sooner than if there had been no explosion?  And maybe light can actually travel faster or slower, but we can only see it at what we currently know as the “speed of light.”

Like I said, neither of us has ever studied the speed of light or anything, so our theory may have been way off base, but the thought of it was very cool and brought me to something else that I’ve pondered about for quite some time . . . our calculation of time.

I find the whole concept of time (as we currently see it) fascinating, but somewhat flawed.  For example, every six months (or thereabouts) we have to switch our clocks an hour in either direction.  This practice was started in 1916 in Europe, and wasn’t adopted here in the U.S. until 1918, which means the practice is less than a hundred years old.  And even back then, it wasn’t very well-received.  From the time of its inception until the late 60’s, states were allowed to observe or not observe daylight savings as they saw fit, and its benefits are still highly debated.  But even before the 20th century, ancient civilizations created their own kind of daylight saving time; opting to use different ways to mark time depending on the month of the year.

That doesn’t necessarily alter the 24 hours in our day, but how can we be so certain that we’re even right about that?  I know our current concept is based on the Earth’s rotation and the position of the sun, but what if we have even that measurement of time wrong?

For instance, what about the way we currently calculate our days, and how they’re broken down into months?  Based on that childhood rhyme “Thirty days hath September…”, there are seven months with 31 days in them, four with 30, and then there’s February, which normally has 28 days, but every four years, whoops!  There’s an extra day added.  That seems like such a higgledy-piggledy way of marking our days.

Doing more research, I found that the early Roman calendar had only ten months in it, for a total of 304 days.  Then there were two more months added around the time of Julius Caesar, who also decided to move days around and add some, bringing the new total to 365/366 depending on the year.

Even the Lunar calendar needs augmentation.  One would think that following the moons phases would be more accurate, right?  Apparently not.  There are some lunar calendars that insert a thirteenth month every two to three years.

Now, I’m not proposing that we look for a new way to view time, days, or even light – I’ll leave that to the specialists – but I like to think about these kinds of things every now and then to remind myself that even the “experts” don’t have everything figured out yet.  New information is researched all the time and added to our reality.

I’m not sure how easy I’d find it to adapt to a new way of marking time – as I already have difficulty adjusting my body’s clock to the daylight saving time that’s been implemented (regardless of what day of the year it falls on) – but conceptually, I like the idea that the “experts” might discover a new and improved way for us to look at time while I’m still alive.  That would completely blow my mind.

And while I’m not sure that it would matter much to me if someone were to discover that the speed of light is faster or slower than we currently believe, it would be cool to learn if Craig and I were right with our theory that momentum can alter it.

What about you?  What sorts of theories fascinate you with the possibility of new information?

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dolly Chamberlin
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 08:13:11

    When I was younger (in age ;}), an atom was the smallest unit of matter. I watched as the birth of quarks and more became a new field of science study. “Through the Wormhole, with Morgan Freeman” was an awesome series on the science channel. The show offered many quantum physic thoughts, including “Is Time Travel Possible”, “Can We Travel Faster Than Light”, & “Does Time Really Exist”. LOVE THE IMAGINATION!!! LOVES :}

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Mar 02, 2012 @ 08:32:17

      Yep, it’s stuff like that – splitting the atom, discovering the world is round – that make me realize we really don’t know what we think we know. But I find that fascinating, rather than frustrating or scary.

      What will we discover next? 🙂

      Reply

  2. Bette Golden Lamb
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 09:59:56

    We have conceptually shaped time to make our own universe more understandable and fit human needs and desires.
    Molecular structures? Speed of light? Space travel? All the fantastic wonders of the cosmos?
    Close your eyes and wonder. Create your own universe.
    Nice blog, Alyx.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Mar 02, 2012 @ 10:06:16

      Thanks, Bette. Yes, creating your own universe is a cool thing; though we do need to keep in mind the collective realities, too.

      Thanks for visiting today. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Kaye George
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 17:46:57

    My Hubby likes to study string theory and all those extra dimensions–up to 14 of them! That’s a little too mind-boggling for me. I like to stick to what I can see, mostly, in the realm of physics. My fervent wish is for the elimination of Daylight Savings Time! Hate it, hate it, hate it. I’ll be grumpy for at least a week in just a few days. The way the date is creeping up, pretty soon we’ll just be on DST the whole year.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Mar 02, 2012 @ 19:47:23

      LOL I don’t know that I care which way we turn the clock, just so long as it stays one way permanently. It’s the changing that messes with my inner clock, I think.

      14 possible dimensions? SWEET! I like the idea of that, & think it would be very cool if we were able to travel to at least one of them.

      Thanks for stopping by today, Kaye!

      Reply

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