How mundane is the concept of time when we look at it purely from a Physics SEC level perspective. Both mundane and useful. Which light bulb will be brighter – a 60 W light bulb or a 100 W light bulb? Which fuse do I need for a 10 A current appliance? What speed of car will mean that I can stop the car in time before it hurts someone?
Time is an artificial construct, constructed by human beings to regulate their lives. It is also a physical quantity. Any physical quantity divided by time is a rate. So, for example, power is the rate of energy transfer or of work done; current is the rate of flow of charge. In other words, we are not only interested in the amount of energy transferred or the amount of charge flowing in a circuit, we are interested also in how quickly the physical quantities energy and charge are respectively transferred or moved within a circuit. Equations of motion also often include time when they describe the velocity of an entity (distance it travels per second) or its acceleration (change in its velocity per second).
However, go beyond SEC level and time becomes this mysterious, exotic concept. Objects travelling at relativistic speeds changing some of their mass to energy. Looking out to space at night means looking into the past because light from stars - even in our own Milky Way galaxy - takes years to reach us, so we see these stars as they were years ago.
And then there is our sense of time flowing and ebbing that is as far away from the physical, quantifiable quantity of time as can be. How it seems to accelerate as you age. How it seems to creep on by when you are a child. Your sense of nostalgia as you look back to your past, with your loved ones still in your life. The resonance as you come across a place visited with these loved ones when they were still living on planet Earth. Your hopes and fears for the future.
These were some of my thoughts as the first day of 2021 approached and the time for an annual life audit and of New Year resolutions beckoned. All I can resolve to do in 2021 is try my utmost to live my life in the best way possible. To appreciate the privileges of time and life. To not take these for granted. To continue to value the journey more than the destination. The means is always more important than the ends. The end will inevitably come and is out of my control. The means is the variable completely up to me.
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