ANYBODY got the time? I don’t think so, because “time” is a word we are all familiar with but only the artifact “time,” not the reality. Time is interlaced with the fabric of the universe to comprise the indivisible space-time lattice where the time depends on where you are. Simultaneous observers, in different places, see the same event at different times (brother Albert). Moreover, time slows down with increased velocity and increased gravity. At the speed of light, time stops, as it does in a super-massive black hole. Time does not fly, flow or flee. Those are metaphors. Time is a medium in which we exist.
In the past, time was closer to the real thing. We knew the time by the apparent position of the sun and our tummies. We got along just fine too. Then, a Roman legion brought home a sundial and the race was on. That ancient instrument divided our days into observable segments by which we could a bit more accurately determine where we should be or when something should occur. Three-day eggs anyone?
Around 1300 the mechanical clock in its many variations appeared. Soon we had railroad clocks, pocket watches, pendulum clocks and so on, ad infinitum. Presently, we are surrounded by devices which fracture time into smaller and smaller bits which places us in a position of being dominated by a mere thing. Now some guys at MIT have invented a new iteration of the atomic clock which over hundreds of billions of years is “off” by just 100 millionths of a millisecond. Why?
In a word, our obsession with planning which involves the expectation that we can divine a future time when something is either going to occur or we expect to make something happen. Our compulsion to explore also generated the necessity of always knowing where we are which involves a clock which can keep time at sea. Wanting that, seafarers could not determine their longitude when out of sight of land. In 1761, an English carpenter devised a maritime chronometer which opened the world for seaborn navigators.
The evolution of our time keeping devices meets the increasing demands of our universal warden — technology. GPS is impossible, absent timekeeping to exquisite degrees. Increasingly, various segments of technology have demanded the development of ever more precise clocks. We pay a price for this, though, in the incessant demands for cramming relentless time-centered events into increasingly stressful lives where the finer granulations of human civilization and culture are crowded out by time-urgent events.
“Time is an abyss the edge of which we are all teetering upon together”. Me. Y’all be careful now, y’heuh!