About Time…

 “Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.” ~ Valdimir Nabokov

My fellow travellers on the space-time continuum, what is this thing called time, by which we measure our existence on Earth?

E=mc2 - Relativity3_Walk_of_Ideas_BerlinTime is a phenomenon that affects us all. It ‘s a by-product of physicality. Ever since Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and the most famous equation the world has ever known, E=mc2, from his paper on Special Relativity, we have come to understand more about the properties of space and time.

Some of the brightest and best minds of the human race have pondered, nay, studied the very fabric of space-time. And they have reached into the sub-atomic world to do it. Whilst I’m nowhere remotely near that select group of individuals, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my musings on the subject.

Leonardo Da Vinci on time

These musings were stimulated by recently watching the multiple award winning film, the Theory of Everything, with amazing performances by Eddie Redmayne as the brilliant but sick scientist, Stephen Hawking, and Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde, who became his first wife and mother of his three children. Certain scenes in the movie brought me to tears. It was based on Jane’s memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, published in 2007.

Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 1963 whilst completing his PhD in physics at Cambridge University, and was told he had two years to live. Now aged 72, against incredible odds, he continues to search for his all-encompassing theory. He is the recipient of many accolades, such as Fellowship of The Royal Society, and the Queen offered him a Knighthood, (which he politely refused).

He wrote his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time in 1988, which has since sold over 10 million copies. The New York Metropolitan Opera have created a new opera based on the book, which is to be premiered in 2015-16.

Another movie that also stimulated thoughts on the passing of time was Interstellar, wherein the hero (played by Matthew McConaughey), goes off into distant galaxies to find a new and habitable planet for the human race to re-populate; being on the brink of extinction due to climate change on Earth. In deep space it’s only a few years to him, and he barely ages, but when he returns home his daughter is an old lady and a grandmother.

How weird is that?

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” ~ Michael Altshuler

As humans living on planet Earth we cannot escape the inevitable march of time. I distinctly remember thinking at the age of 15 that I could not imagine how it would feel to be 30 years old. It seemed so far away. I thought I’d be ancient…

quote-about-time-concept-humans-createdA few blinks of an eye later and I’m now the wrong side of 40, but strangely I don’t feel that much different. I’m still me.  Of course my body has aged (but well, I hope), although anatomically, we are literally not the same people as our cells constantly die and renew themselves. My personality is broadly the same, only a bit more mature having learned a few life lessons, and at the same time a bit more adventurous, gleaned from the fact that time is passing at apparently ever increasing velocity!

I suppose what I’m trying to say, is that my consciousness has witnessed the years passing, but is unaffected by them. Maybe our souls really do exist outside of space and time, in a non-linear domain, hence the theory that souls are immortal by nature.


A person could go round the bend studying the concept of time. Supposedly time is happening all at once; past, present and future…

“The problem with procrastination is it’s been around since the beginning of time it seems.” ~ Stephen Richards

This was the best mnemonic I could come up with: The Immediate Moment Everywhere

Writers as well as scientists have also penned their take on time. I particularly love this passage by TS Eliot. Four Quartets, Burnt-Norton:

TS Eliot also features in this interesting talk: The Nature of Time, by Will Self on BBC radio 4

Time is freeOf course, time is a key component in music, the beating of the time signature by the conductor, thus ensuring that the notes are played according to their pre-ordained time frame as written by the composer. If a musician doesn’t adhere to the time the music will be sloppy, and probably won’t sound as the composer intended. I got to thinking that the beats in a bar could resemble the seconds of our lives, and the music represents the events in our lives.

“It struck me tonight how music mirrors life. Fleeting ephemeral moments, made up of beauty, sadness, joy, hope and despair. The melodies are created in both major and minor keys. Flowing and fleeting. You can’t hold onto it, or keep it from changing. Our emotions possess the evanescence of a note.” ~ The Virtuoso

Here are two videos to explain all!

The Illusion of Time – Quantum Physics:

The End of Space and Time? – Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf:

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” ~ John Lennon

The notion of time as a finite measurement really hits home after you have children, or especially after the death of a loved one. Then it seems the nonchalant pleasure of idling it away as one may have enjoyed in one’s youth, becomes somewhat of an anathema with the realisation that one’s time could be suddenly curtailed!

Seating-on-the-rock-Time-quotesThese days I am reminded how easy it is to become engrossed in my writing or playing my violin, and lose all track of time, and what a wonderful feeling that is, to not be beholden to the constant ticking for those brief hours…

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” William Penn

Science: is it a Useful Tool to Further Humanity’s Understanding, or a Set of Outdated and Rigid Laws, Riddled with Dogma?

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

protonI wonder what Leonardo da Vinci would have made of quarks?

What purpose does science, and all its many branches serve, unless it can teach us more about ourselves; how to live life to the full, how to lead healthy, happy lives in harmony with each other and nature?

I propose that the only true aim of science should be to assist the evolution of mankind. And I don’t mean into more perfect physical specimens, rather as more evolved beings, with increased awareness about how we affect our planet and how we manifest our dreams and goals. Surely technology has only a limited scope in achieving this aim? We are looking out there for answers, when perhaps they are inside us all along.

The micro world of subatomic particles is probably the only area of study that will illuminate the building blocks of life and the universe.

Never trust an atomHowever, science still can’t define what the soul is. It still can’t tell us what happens to the spirit upon the moment of death. It still has many questions to answer about the nature of consciousness and existence.

Without a moral or spiritual intention surely scientific endeavour is just glorification of the ego?

Your inner realms are just as infinite as the cosmos. And when you look at all the amazing achievements to date, they were all a product of the mind of man. They all came from that deep creative well that every human has access to. Moments of insight, backed up and developed by rigorous research and experimentation.

Geeks are cool…

Science has been responsible for much of humanity’s progress in the last few centuries.  And the pace of technical innovation is breath taking. It has impacted our lives in so many areas: from the inventions of everyday gadgets such as the washing machine, the smartphone, flat-screen TVs, the whole Apple phenomena to virtual reality and medical matters.


But it hasn’t all been good. The atom bomb should never have been created. Society has paid a high price for science that was ultimately motivated by greed and self-interest.

When scientists start messing with the food chain I get worried. Genetically modified crops are contaminating the gene pools of plants, and self-propagating GMO pollution is predicted to outlast the considerable effects of global warming and nuclear waste. In large-scale farming the use of pesticides are decimating the world’s bee and insect populations, just so the likes of Monsanto can make a profit feeding us HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), and other highly processed foods; if you can even call them that!

“Seven Deadly Sins: Wealth without work

Pleasure without conscience

Science without humanity

Knowledge without character

Politics without principle

Commerce without morality

Worship without sacrifice.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Without government action and intervention the lack of integrity in this field means that science operating with impunity threatens the health of future generations. It’s time for consumers to make their voices heard in the supermarket aisles, where the big corporations will feel the effects of our dissent.

Space, the final frontier…   

Tesla1At the other end of the scale, a group of brilliant people landed men on the moon, an unmanned craft on Mars, completed the successful Rosetta comet mission and invented telescopes that can penetrate deep into space millions of light years away and show us galaxies, nebulas, black holes, the births and deaths of stars. Dark matter, soon to be created light matter, and the very stuff of the universe.

Scientists at CERN proclaimed that they have found the elusive Higgs boson, nicknamed the ‘God Particle’.  But not everyone at techtimes agrees. Whatever your opinion about it, the large hadron collider (LHC) is an incredible achievement in itself. It is actually one of the coldest places on Earth, as well as generating temperatures hotter than the core of the sun when the particles collide and explode.

Here is an interesting documentary about the LHC at CERN, the Higgs boson experiment and the theory of ‘supersymmetry’.

Perhaps it’s time to question the standard model of particle physics? Is the big bang theory that is so universally accepted really true? Is the phenomena of psychic ability a reality? Do we all possess it? What about the possibility of time travel? Whoa…I’m getting ahead of myself.

It must be tough being a scientist, working at the peak of human intellectual capacity as well as combining understanding with the essential element of creative insight. Then, after the light bulb lights up, there follows the endless verification and testing that scientific theories require before they are proven and accepted into the mainstream.

One of the dangers they face must certainly be confirmation bias. Not to mention the whole funding issue.

the-greatest-science-in-the-world-in-heaven-and-on-earth-is-loveIt seems natural that as humans created science that science is in danger of getting bogged down in indoctrination and the same way of doing and thinking about things. Humans thought that the Earth was flat until it was proven to be a sphere. Our knowledge is limited to our perception and ability to question accepted thoughts, facts and dogmas.  Only with enlightened questions can we find the answers to humanity’s biggest dilemmas and problems.

Quantum Physics

Particles do not exist unless there is an observer. We really do create our own reality!

Throughout history there have been many influential physicists, scientists and inventors that have steered humanity towards the answers it seeks: Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, David Bohm, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Heinrich Hertz, Guglielmo Marconi, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee and Peter Higgs to name just a few.

For me the Heisenberg Principle is one of the most amazing discoveries of quantum physics. Alok Jha from The Guardian explains all!

But what does it all mean if we can’t apply it to our everyday lives? I like this fun explanation from Dr David R Hawkins. Here he is talking about people who eat too many cookies, but it could be applied to smoking, drinking and all kinds of vices:

As he says, “Attention begins to diminish a thing automatically.” Dysfunctional behaviours cannot continue when the light of consciousness shines on it.

Erwin Schrödinger and Schrödinger’s cat

The brilliant Nobel Prize-Winning Austrian physicist, Erwin Schrödinger is known as one of the fathers of Quantum Mechanics: he formulated the wave equation, authored many works, in particular his book, What Is Life?

From Wikipedia:

Schrödinger stayed in Dublin until retiring in 1955. He had a lifelong interest in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism, which influenced his speculations at the close of What Is Life? about the possibility that individual consciousness is only a manifestation of a unitary consciousness pervading the universe.

Probably one of his most enduring legacies is his thought experiment Schrödinger’s cat. My cat (who loves to perch next to me on my desk and watch the screen), has just scarpered!

As I’m not a physicist and I’m still trying to get my head round this concept I thought it best to include a video or two that explains wave function and more:

You could say that this blog post does and doesn’t exist simultaneously, but by my observing it, by my thoughts I caused the wave to collapse, and bingo, you have a blog post to read that probably doesn’t make sense!!

I’d like to finish with the work of British biologist and author, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, who’s theory of Morphic Resonance has not been embraced wholeheartedly by the scientific community. I admire his open-minded and common sense approach to science and his courage to question the dogmas that western science clings to.

Here is a wonderful interview between Rupert Sheldrake and Deepak Chopra. Science Beyond the Superstitions of Materialism:

This is also a fascinating interview that delves into Rupert’s book, Science Set Free, questioning long held assumptions by Western science:

So, in reply to the loaded question posed by my title, I’m going to assume a ‘superposition’ and say that both answers exist at the same time; until you start observing one of them that is!!!

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ~ Isaac Asimov