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The Pitch Drips…

I was very taken with the piece on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme earlier this week about the pitch drop experiment that has been underway in Australia since 1927. Pitch at room temperature appears to be solid matter; you can even smash with a hammer should you have both to hand.

In fact, given enough time, pitch shows the properties of a fluid and will eventually form a drip. As I write, the blog (and the world) waits for the ninth drop, since 1927, to drip.

For the live drip cam click through to the University of Queensland website here. For what it all means, ask Einstein. Oh, he’s dead you say? Well, given enough time, perhaps anything is possible.

In the meantime, here’s a time lapse video, taken over the last year, as the pitch gets ready to drip and… drop!

Time is now

The rest is merely conceptual.

The way humans have chosen to measure time explains why it appears to pass quicker the older we get – a year between you turning one and two is your whole lifetime again (which is just as well considering the development that needs to happen); whereas turning 70 represents only one seventieth of your whole life.

And, apparently, a recent multidisciplinary conference organised by the Foundational Questions Institute has also decided that the past and the future are equally real and implicit in the now.

I love the mind-bending concept there. We have come to rely on recalling the past to inform the future – even though we know memory is a woefully inaccurate record and varies from person to person; far more liberating then to ‘remember’ the future to inform the now.

You might think it sounds impossible, but it’s not. Ask George Orwell.

Here’s the set of slides by Sean Carroll, a physicist and theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology that opened the conference.

The conference discussions inspired this blog, also by Sean Carroll, where he lists Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time, two of which I have loosely referred to above.

I needed to read it Ten Times to get my head round it all.

The arrow of time

in physics, is forward moving, linear.

It governs why we can make an omelette with eggs, but never an egg out of an omelette: the arrow of time is irreversible. But, mysteriously, within that total irreversibility of forward-moving time, lie totally reversible physical processes.

As humans, we collude with the arrow of time, mainly living lives in a linear fashion. But not always. Within us, is the possibility of living off that track. It happens sometimes; we stop thinking about the next thing on the list of our day and we start to inhabit our world in a more lateral way, taking up space and time, backwards, forwards, *up, down and all around too.

And when we come to consider things, people and events should we try to discard the driving linear force of the arrow of time, and perhaps try to apply a more holistic appraisal of the possibilities of our very three-dimensional lives, lived in a remarkably non-linear fashion.

*see Whitney Houston’s song ‘Million Dollar Bill’, a denomination surely possible with the arrow of time and current inflation.

Entropy: something undeniable and impossible to contain, or write about, unless you are a scientist.