A Little Quantum Physics for EMS

I’d like to get a little, well, theoretical on you for a second. Humor me here if you would.

You know that we all live on a big, mostly spherical ball of dirt and rock that spins wildly through space. We’re always moving on this planet. The Earth spins on its Y axis while moving incredibly fast in an orbit around the sun. It’s this very motion that gives us one of our most important inventions, our perception of time.

The thing that we perceive and know as linear “time” is a human invention. It stands to reason that animals and non-sentient beings perceive time as only an indication of how hungry they are, when they think that they should mate, or how they should behave with the change of the seasons. What we humans call time is our reasoned perception of the past, present, and future. We observed that the sun and moon move across the sky in a repetitive pattern and that the transition from sunlight to darkness gives us what we call a “day” and a “night”. This, we reasoned, is due to the Earth’s rotation on the Y axis. We observed that the sun is directly overhead at roughly the same “time” each “day” and we devised a scheme to measure that using hours, minutes, and seconds. We observed that the sun, moon, and our “seasons” follow a pattern and that the same type of weather pattern and length of the day will follow exactly 365.25 days from this day. Our “year” we devised, follows the rotational orbit of the earth around the sun.

Our sense of “time” has developed over the years and there are still differing methods of keeping it. There are various calendars available for different cultures. There’s disagreement even to what year it is as determined by different date-keeping systems. While everyone pretty much agrees on Greenwich Mean Time, there is some variation. The forward-motion of hours, minutes, and seconds are roughly kept on clocks by the motion of springs, the pulsations of quartz crystals, and even by atomic energy. These clocks, however, are only good for a longitudinal standard. Our “Time Zones” are based upon the rotation of the Earth creating a “sun rise” on different parts of the earth at different times. We have adjusted the clocks accordingly, but it is only a rough measurement based upon political agreements. If one were to move across latitudes, meaning East and West, the time would be different using the time zone theory, with it being later towards the East and earlier to the West. We have solved this problem by drawing lines on a map and changing only the hour when you cross those lines, but like our perception of “time” the time zones are a human design.

To further confuse the issue, we really wouldn’t know if our “time” was affected by any speeding up and/or slowing down of the orbital or rotational motion of the planet. Theoretically, the Earth could be speeding up and slowing down wildly and at random… and if that motion were to affect our perception of time as well at the motion of springs and the pulsation of quartz crystals and atomic materials… then we could all be experiencing different ebbs and flows of time without knowing it. There isn’t a way to prove or disprove that from the ground. If these ebbs and flows of time were to affect some clocks and people differently, as it could be due to the fact that clocks are can lose their accuracy over time (as measured by other clocks), then our timekeeping system is way off. I do understand, however that it is probably the best we can do.

So with all this going on Chief… It’s a wonder that I make it to work on time EVER. How can you be mad that I was “late” today?

  • medicblog999

    I am sooo getting to know you CK!

    I think I got half way through the first paragraph when I knew to expect a short, punchy and comedic ending to the post!!

    Was that all copied and pasted from somewhere or are you really THAT clever??

  • Ckemtp

    Not a single ctrl-C or ctrl-V in the whole post. That popped into my head while driving in the car last night and got tapped out on the keyboard today on a 5 minute break from hose testing.

    With all the busy work I've been doing at the station, I've got a lot of time to let my mind wander.

    I even got a new copy of Steven Hawking's book "A Brief History of Time" recently… who knew they had a pop-up book version with pictures and pages to color on.