Events over time or time over events


Caution. Ideas under construction. Participation encouraged.


The pace of time, the speed at which things seem to happen, the rate at which time passes, is not a constant but differs among all things.

The traditional view is that time passes at a constant speed and that the number of “events” varies. That is, from 5am to 6am on the morning of December 30, a certain number of events happened to me. A staggering number of events, actually! I got dressed, made coffee, read some news, walked outside, and did some writing.

Stuff happened about which I am aware. If I could measure the amount of “stuff that happened to me,” let’s call it E for number events, then I could say that my pace of time was E per hour; a certain number of events per hour, events over time. The “pace of time,” we might say, equals the number of events divided by the amount of time. We might call this “busy-ness.”

But who is to say that time should be constant and the number of events that happen within a time frame should be variable?

I would say that on the morning of December 30 I had a pretty average pace of time. Average for me; stuff happened to me at about the pace that it usually does. But what about the pace of time of a mountain? What stuff happened to the mountain between 5am and 6am on the morning of December 30? I moved all around the house making coffee and getting dressed. The mountain moved maybe a slim fraction of a micro meter? For the mountain, events are few and far between.

Rather than thinking that a lifetime includes a variable numbers of events, what if a constant number of events makes up a lifetime?

What if I could calculate the number of events in my lifetime? Between the time of my birth and my death, how much stuff happened? How many “events?”

Now, for how long would the mountain have to live for the same amount of stuff to happen? For the mountain to experience the same number of “events?”

Perhaps the mountain is alive just like me but at a different pace of time.

The traditional noting of busy-ness is to measure the number of events over an amount of time, the pace of time believed to be a constant. But why not an alternative correlation? Rather than measure activity as it relates to time, why not measure time as it relates to activity? The more activity, the slower the rate of time.

When a lot of events happen to me in quick succession, perhaps time for me in those moments is actually slower, spread out over the events. Perhaps it’s “events” that march along in consistent cadence and time speeds up and slows down to stay in step.

Well, you might say, time goes at the same pace for everyone. All clocks tick at the same rate. But just imagine that actually, events might happen at the same pace for everyone and it’s the actual pace of time that is constantly changing for each person. We measure time because it’s easy, and that has seduced us into thinking it’s a constant. But in reality life is a combination of events and time, and who is to say that the pace of one is more constant than the other.

Einstein said that the pace of time changes relative to speed. For an object traveling closer and closer to the speed of light, time slows down. He also said, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

 

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