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Is time a variable dimension? 

by Daria Blackwell

Alex says that “when God made time, he made plenty of it.” But I don’t buy that; I never feel I have enough time to do all the things I want to do, have to do, need to do, and other otherwise miss doing.   I suppose I am what Deepak Chopra calls a “human doing” instead of a “human being.”  Which got me to thinking. (“Uh,oh,” says Alex.)

In reading a rather whimsical musing in the New York Times about the nature of particles in motion, a strange thought occurred to me about the effect of motion on the passage of time.  Given that winter had finally arrived with a vengeance sending the mercury into single digits and the wind chill well below, it seemed like a good time to go on musing in front of the blazing fireplace with the cruising kitty curled up at my feet sending warm thoughts and purrs vibrating throughout and setting the mental motor chugging across uncharted space.

I started wondering if time is actually a variable dimension, speeding up and slowing down in relation to the motion of particles within it.  So for example, on a day when everyone is rushing to get a major task accomplished, a day might pass very quickly because fast motion causes time to speed up.  A personal observation of mine for years has been that there are days that seem to drag on forever and others that whiz by, and somehow most people in the same environment feel it the same way.  That is what originally spawned the idea that time is not a constant but rather a variable.

So armed with that thought, it stands to reason that time could perhaps slow down a little when we are sailing at a nice 6-7 knots in a westerly direction.  Sailing East definitely would make the day feel shorter.  Sailing North or south then should feel completely in tune with time, the earth, the universe, and everything.  Being in a speed boat should magnify those effects making them much more pronounced and more easily detectable.

But then, the big question arose.  What happens to us when we change the way time is experienced?  If we just continue to sail west, do we age less quickly?  If we get off the boat and onto a plane, does time - and consequently the aging process - slow even more? That could explain a lot about cruisers’ mentalities after several years of “being out there.” Moitessier comes to mind.

Remember the old 1950s sci-fi classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still?  If the plane flew at the same speed as the earth’s rotation, would time stop? Surely the military must know the answer to this seemingly important question. That’s much too drastic for my weary brain to contemplate when I am feeling cozy.

It’s kind of like the time I was flying from Fiji to the states via Hawaii .  I was to change planes in Hawaii but when I got there, the Continental counter was shut down tighter than a clam in the desert.    So I dialed the 800 number to find out what happened to my plane to NJ.  The operator, God bless her intelligent soul, says to me, “That flight’s tomorrow. Seems you forgot about crossing the date line.” I went ballistic about how I just had to get to NJ.  She calmly advised, “So let me get this straight.  You just found out you have an extra day in paradise that you did not know you had and you feel you have to get to NJ immediately?”  I saw her point, thanked her kindly, and got a cab to a nice hotel on the beautiful beach.  So here was a case of time skipping a beat just because I stepped off the galactic treadmill.

I say I have proof enough. Besides, a theory is just something that I believe to be true until someone proves otherwise.   Let’s just all sail off into the sunset and create our own dimensions in time.  Then you can all report back to me, and I’ll become famous when my theory holds up.  Waddayasay? 

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