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A Trip Through Time

Time is something that people think of quite frequently, but not always with much questioning or concern. Everyone wants to know what time is it or how much time they have left, but they rarely question things like how long the universe has existed or if it will ever come to an end. There seems to be a certain belief that tomorrow will follow as easily as yesterday came. Often, people spend much of their lives looking forward to the next birthday or the next holiday. Workers look forward to vacations just as students do to weekends and the belief that the time for these things will be there is taken for granted.

How many look at a calendar and see it for what it is? It’s really just an organized seasonal tracking device for solar and earthly movements, put together hundreds of years ago that has had very little modification to it since then. Do we ever think that it might change? Is it possible that one day there may be ten months in a year, or a week might not always be seven days, or that it’s not the same year everywhere? Such things seem implausible to us today, though years ago, such things actually happened and radical changes such as these could happen again.

Each one of us views the concept of time quite subjectively. What images do you conjure up when you think of free time, work time, sports time, lunch time, study time, family time or even the beginning and end of time? Your definition or view of these “times” is probably quite different from your neighbor’s.

The evolution of clocks made it possible to keep track of hours, minutes, and eventually seconds—man-made units that are based solely upon human convenience. Now we use instruments to measure units that are a tiny fraction of a second, and the movement of celestial bodies to measure time has nearly been forgotten. Though heavenly movements may not be used to calculate time any longer, their use to gauge time cannot be discarded completely as evidenced when you contact someone during your lunch break from the other side of the globe only to find that you have woken them up from a sound sleep in the middle of their night. Time zones are man’s solution to the fact that the sun, in being fixed at one location in space, causes it to be a different time of day depending on one’s location around the globe. Thought of by some as an inconvenience and by others as a precious resource, an unstoppable force or a countdown to extinction, a cause for haste or wisdom, the inescapable presence of time penetrates deeply into the lives of all living things, sometimes in ways that we don’t even think of.