Woo Woo

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Einstein came up with all sorts of woo woo in his life, though he wasn't alone. Science during the 20th century has taken us so far out on a limb we can't even see the trunk anymore. Most of us don't really understand it, but we hear of Chaos Theory, String Theory, Bell's Theorem and more, and we know something very strange is going on.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity is taken for granted by now, but there are some very interesting implications that came out of it that most of us don't think about. For instance... one of the conclusions of the theory is that as an object accelerates time slows down for it. For objects within our rather humdrum speed range here on earth, this difference is negligible; if you speed down the interstate in your Harley trying to slow down the aging process you're wasting your time (pun intended). However, if you were a twin, and got onto a very fast rocket ship for a round trip to Mars, by the time you got back 20 years later you'd be younger than your sibling. Now, this is kinda woo woo, but there's more. The faster you go, the slower time goes, and as you approach the speed of light time slows to a crawl. At the speed of light time stops! Neither you nor I can possibly even approach the speed of light, but there is something that can - light. In fact, light always travels at the speed of light (I bet you knew that).

It takes about eight minutes for a photon of light to leave the sun and collide with the earth. But light, traveling at the speed of light, is not experiencing any time passing, since time stops at the speed of light. Therefore, a light photon, if it were conscious (and who knows?) would experience leaving the sun and colliding with the earth SIMULTANEOUSLY!!!!!! In fact, a photon would experience everything in its existence simultaneously, even if it started 13.5 billion years ago at the big bang and was still traveling today. Past, present, and future all at once.

Now that's woo woo, and I haven't even gotten to quantum physics yet (even Einstein thought quantum physics was woo woo, but it's formulations have been proven to work every time, and today it's accepted as a description of reality on the subatomic level). But all of this begs another question - why do I love woo woo, especially scientific woo woo? Woo woo doesn't pay the rent, or put food on the table, or predict the winner of American Idol, so why care?


To be continued....