I just bought a book I found in a bargin box for £2 on quantum physics. It’s by Brian Cox, it came out a few years ago when I was working one of my many part-part-time jobs in a bookstore. The book has always intrigued me from the shelf I used to stare at from the till, mostly because I love the font on the book cover (yes, i constantly judge books by their covers – USA bookcovers tend to be pretty bad) but also I really liked the title. “Everything That Can Happen, Does Happen”.
– Let’s all just think about this sentence for a moment. -“Everything That Can Happen, Does Happen”. !!!
Hot chocolates become cold, buildings crumble, and stars slowly die; that’s like a physical visual interpretation of time. The astronomer-philosopher Sir Arthur Eddington in 1927 cited the gradual dispersal of energy as evidence of an irreversible “arrow of time.” In classic physics, this would be a mind-fuck because in theory you could put all the particles back together and reverse that effect. In very very basic lame-men terms. (i’m blazing over some important parts, so this isn’t going to be your accurate quantum mechanics class)
Instead, what we’re left with is a strange effect called “quantum entanglement”. This is where energy disperses and objects equilibrate, scientists say it’s because of the way the elementary particles become intertwined when they interact. How cool is that? So this entanglement builds up between the state of your peppermint hot chocolate and the state of the commuter train that you’re on.
So, now you’re wondering why I am banging on about hot-chocolates and entanglement which sounds like a sequel Disney movie? Well, entanglement could explain the flow of time. Why buildings don’t just re-build, why your cooled chocolate suddenly doesn’t get wicked hot again.
The story of time’s arrow begins with what we know, that nature is inherently uncertain.
In principle, as the state of your commuter train evolves, the hot choc could suddenly become unmixed from the air and enter another pure state of its own. But there are so many more mixed states than pure states available to the hot-choc that this practically never happens — and apparently we’d all have to outlive the universe to witness it. This statistical unlikelihood gives time’s arrow the appearance of irreversibility. But this is what makes it super interesting. Literally ANYTHING could happen to us. ANYTHING. There are endless possibilities, just the statistical unlikelihood which somewhat governs our chances.
This is just another significant discovery in trying to explain how changes in time occur, but we’re all still wondering about time in general? Like why it seems different (both perceptually and in the equations of quantum mechanics) to every one and everything. And helps with the questions of “why me?”, “why not me?”
I’ve written so much about time over the past few months. Trying to understand it. Own it. Its weight. Its heaviness and lightness. Its ungraspable real-ness. I just read a book called Time Warped by Claudia Hammond, which talks at length about how we perceive time. One of her arguments is that as we get older, we have fewer meaningful experiences. We fall into a routine of sorts and life becomes less memorable, which makes our perception of time feel like it’s speeding up as we age (could be quantum flow of time). It’s kind of a sad idea. But it does put things into perspective. We should be doing more things that are memorable! YOLO.
Since I became sick, and lost certain abilities I used to have (still mourning)- and I seem to spend a ridiculous amount of time napping and sleeping than I ever did before. I have become obsessed with documenting and measuring time, in all of its forms. This is because I constantly feel like I either don’t have enough time, that I’m not using time wisely, or that it’s going to be snatched from me before my real time is/should be up.
As a result I have loads of apps that measure things for me.
One of my time-measuring things is my Fuelband. I like the Fuelband because it democratizes work outs and makes them all relatively equally by registering fuel points as apposed to steps, or calories, or work outs (it also measures those too) but the fuelpoint system works by making sure you get data and points for all activities equally from drumming, to running and walking to wood carving to even brushing your teeth. Whatever. But My Nike+ Fuelband obsession probably lasted about a month, and then maybe like 4 months before I truly didn’t give a shit about whether or not I hit my fuel-points target. This lack of concern came with getting knocked off my bike I think (anything can happen, quantum change!). Riding my bike was my main way of excerising because it’s fun, and free, and I can grind miles even when it’s really difficult to just walk.
But I am back, concerned about my time. It always takes a period of feeling stupidly unwell, and some crazy hospital visits to make me try and get my priorities back in line. I want to get back on the bike, to start to care again about my time & get back on doing stuff for my output into the fuelband. I want to spend more time with friends, do work in a timely manner, research loads, reply emails when I get them, not let them build up. Quantify my quality moments. Change bad habits into good habits.
It’s a lot to ask. But if a hot-chocolate can go cold because it equilibrates with the surrounding – I’m sure I can do the same.
Time is our most valuable resource, guys. Who knows how many christmas dinners I have left – so it’s about time that I take the time to spend with loved ones and enjoy things and do things that will help with using my time more efficiently. Because Everything That Can Happen, Does Happen.