Time and Distance – Bumping Into Things

The difficulty in saving victims of the Titanic is testimony not just to the breadth of the catastrophe, but the relative distance and speed at which humans can operate, even under extreme pressure. Those old boats chugged away at what seem today like slow top speeds.

candleThere’s no math that solves the problem, of course; we are bound at all times by both things, not time and space, but relative distance and relative speed, relative to our awareness experience, and they are, importantly, ultimately the same thing; only one thing, which could be thought of as the time it takes to move through space, or in many cases the imagined time, which is also critical, because we can only understand vast sizes, like a cosmos, by imagining traveling through it; the experience of time is essential to the experience of space and vice versa; distance becomes a more accurate way to describe space when it becomes very large. “It would take light X amount of time to travel Y amount of distance,” the definition of a light-year, is also the perfect equation to describe time-space.

But even by “committee of generations” to overcome the human lifespan problem, we, unfortunately, know, or can well imagine, the top speeds we can really go, based mostly on propulsion; we can imagine ourselves in a spaceship going a distance that ends with the end of the humans on the trip (if they eventually die, despite procreating on the moving spaceship) … but the vision only feeds the concept of infinity; there’s almost a fundamental need to “leave it that way,” an instinct in favor of not knowing the answer to infinity. We can accept the concept as common men, the nebulous “speed of light,” flickering in the nebulously-infinitely-sized universe. Probably because nobody’s gotten hurt because of it; it’s not broken.

clockIf there is a speed limit, studying beyond it may be a waste of time! Humans intrinsically spiritualize such concepts, which concept should not be at odds with science. Living in a world mastered by time and distance, we need to try and understand it while remaining within our abilities to understand it, and we can never understand time or distance independently of each other, therefore we must always look at (imaginable) distance and (actually attainable) speed as constraints and mathematical variables if we are to understand the results!

Time and distance seem, subjectively, if you were gazing at the moon, to obviously extend beyond human understanding. Study of the far parts, beyond the real world … the study of what we can only imagine … will only give us results we can only imagine, like a language we don’t speak. We could go on for a long time marveling at the fact we got any results at all, regardless of if we have any idea what they mean. “We did some tests and got some results!” or “We’re busy analyzing the results!” are the mantras of science sometimes, as if we’re all not really that smart.

Additionally, we are limited in our ability to even imagine speed once it reaches a certain threshold, either fast or slow, a limitation that can be visualized by trying to imagine something moving either so slowly, or quickly, you can’t see it – these things are an every day part of our world. To take that example to the extreme, we can “see” that our field of vision itself is what is actually “bound” by time – it would be unsatisfyingly philosophical to suggest we can’t see the past or future; that doesn’t sound even partly scientific; but imagine something that is very slowly coming into your field of view, from the left, for example, a large, slow-moving object; two notable things about this scenario: if you die before it comes into your field of view, it never happened; and, if you were further away from it, you may have seen it in the same time! Reality is different based on distance; at least the experience of it is.

Tomorrow morning, imagine a monster is about to eat you just before you wake up, but then it disappears quickly and you never see it. Even if it “really” was there (maybe it was just your dog about to lick your face), it didn’t “really” happen; it was invisible to you; you didn’t see it, feel it or hear it; it was a non-event.

Being a prudent researcher, I looked up “What does it mean to transcend space and time,” because my mind was telling me, as a Philosopher, I should be interested in the constraints of time and space, if I endeavor to understand the Universe around me. The “Best Answer” comes from Yahoo, and a user named, simply, “Friend,” and I’m glad I found it!

“Friend” said “It means to go beyond the boundaries of space and time.” I didn’t need much more than that, either, although he (or she) said more, that I will share in a moment. I just wanted to clear up in my mind that the phrase “time and space” are commonly used in Philosophy as “boundaries.” My contention is that space doesn’t belong; just time, that’s the only boundary – but I would add that time is blended unalterably with distance, and both are measurable.

“Friend” also quoted Einstein as saying “Time and space are modes in which we think and not conditions in which we live.” I was very unsatisfied cross-checking this quote, but I like it! In all fairness, though, our “Friend” also uplifted me, with these, apparently of his own mind, words at the end of his Yahoo Answer: “The mysteries of the universe are only mysteries to a noisy and cluttered mind. Silence is the veil of God.”

But I digress; I simply wanted to suggest that constraints on humans should be thought of as distance and speed (not time and space). We are not constrained by space in any way.

In the conceivably-sized world, it’s not that we can’t get to Omaha or another faraway place; it’s that we can’t get there instantly; and further, we know the trip may take, as an example, four weeks by horse and carriage, but our conception of four weeks’ worth of time is entirely fantastic; it is indigestible. It must evolve, and we can only experience its evolution, never its static existence.

candle and tambourineThis is a good example of how rhythm is important, because it mimics the experience of time in an organic way. The rhythm of nature is the music of life.

Meanwhile, we can neither stop time nor get to Omaha beyond its constraint. We can get to Omaha, though, and it’s not difficult to imagine. The distance is conquerable, given enough time.

Humans easily understand that which is within their field of vision, and we can even understand maps that go well beyond it; we have no problem understanding everything about the space we live in, but, if we could change the speed of the experience, or “hop” to different locations by ignoring distance’s “time-required,” we would see things very differently and see things currently invisible – if you could change your speed in time, things passing by your eyes so fast (and slow) you never see them, you might see! “In my time” is a creature’s – only – reality.

Nature truly begs us to see the world as a “fly on the wall,” his lifespan being only a matter of days, every movement dizzyingly-fast, his whole experience of us probably as being large, slow, clumsy giants.
But in reality, transcending either time-required or distance-required is inconceivable, and that is for a reason – so we can understand our experience within time – we are in a time-space envelope.

Understanding our universe, possibly using mathematics, requires respecting the constraints of our understanding it, and since it must be understood within time and distance constraints, we should target results that will work in the same environment, and not get too “far out there.”

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