Time – we all know what it is, or do we? Try to define time and you may find yourself struggling, yet it appears in our everyday conversations. Examine some of the sayings about time and you start to get an uneasy feeling that we don’t really have a grasp of it – not yet, anyway.
For instance, when we do things to save time, where are we actually putting that time we save? Is there some sort of time bank where we can keep it for a rainy day? Clearly, the phrase isn’t meant to convey that message, we are merely shortening a process to … well … spend less time doing it.
There we go again! Spending time, as though it is some sort of cosmic currency stored in the Universe equivalent of Fort Knox. On the other hand, humans are notorious for wasting time. When asked what he had done with all his money, George Best famously said, he’d spent it on drink and women – the rest he wasted. Is that what we do with time, squander it on trivialities?
Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech is trying to understand time. He points out, time has a direction, which is why we can remember the past, but not the future. But time doesn’t have a size. We might think it does because we divide our days up into little parcels. It makes it easier for us when we can point to a specific point in time and give it a name. However, time is not constant throughout the universe, or even on our own planet – something that is perhaps a little deep for a small blog post.
Coming back to humans, I think we all know people who never have enough time, for them there are just not enough of those convenient parcels in another arbitrary period. Then there are people, like Seumas Gallacher, who are able to manipulate time in such a way, they never run out of it and can achieve any amount of work in a given time period. I once worked out his timetable and came to the conclusion he has a thirty-six-hour day.
Or maybe he knows the whereabouts of the time bank and is making withdrawals. He was a banker after all, and you know what they say – time is money.