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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Time, Physics, and Reality 
29th-Jul-2005 05:51 am
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Too big a title, eh?

Any parent knows, but no physics class teaches, that while time may be described as a dimension with a ratio scale (which means that two hours is twice as long as one hour), time is a two dimensional construct for human beings, the scalar one being the less important. The second measure is a measure of intensity, or involvement, and it describes the speed it passes. There are afternoons which pass in a moment (ask any child at a playground), and minutes which pass like hours (hospitals are good places to ask about this one).

In my own experience, there are some easily seen transitions in the movement through life. A single person's time passes fairly slowly, except for a few moments of involvement. A married person's time moves faster, and is more intense. Finally, parental time moves so fast that I am routinely surprised by the month it is, much less the hour and day.

Obviously, this bears no relation to the pretended solidity of the time dimension and its measure by my watch. Not that my watch is inaccurate: if anything, the watch my wife gave me is more accurate than most of the clocks I see. But measurement along this dimension is a convenience, not the felt reality of time.
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