This weekend, Americans (except for Arizonans who play by their
own rules) push forward their time measuring devices by one hour
daylight. If you think about it, Daylight Saving Time is an odd
idea. The government mandating that everyone change the dial hands
or digital numbers on their clocks and wristwatches sounds like
alien plot to manipulate our minds.
This weekend, Americans (except for Arizonans who play by their own rules) push forward their time measuring devices by one hour to “save” daylight. If you think about it, Daylight Saving Time is an odd idea. The government mandating that everyone change the dial hands or digital numbers on their clocks and wristwatches sounds like some weird “X-Files” alien plot to manipulate our minds.
I won’t call in FBI Agents Mulder and Scully to investigate a possible Daylight Saving Time conspiracy theory. Indeed, I’m fascinated by the concept of altering time. We’re all ruled by this mysterious thing called time. Every second of our lives goes tick-tocking by. Yet, even though it shapes our past, present, and future, no one knows what the heck time really is.
History relies on time. Human history records what happened in the past. We need to use time measurement devices to put into perspective the chronological order in a series of passing events.
I have a hunch humans started developing the concept of history when they started measuring and recording time. Time measuring devices helped us see an-going passage of events. This probably happened during the agricultural revolution that took place in the Neolithic era about 10,000 years ago. Early farmers needed to know when growing seasons would arrive. That necessity required them to build astronomical calendars that could mark the winter and summer solstices and the fall and spring equinoxes.
As civilization advanced and technology improved, time measurement advances moved to sundials and hour glasses and later to spring-wound wrists watches and pendulum clocks. Now, thanks to the blessings of Silicon Valley high-tech wizardry, digital devices help us keep time with amazing accuracy. Horologists – people who study the measurement of time – can see the progress of civilization from how precisely we mark the passage of time. The solstice-measuring Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in England was just as much a technological marvel 4,400 years ago as modern scientific atomic time-keeping instruments that define a second as 9,192,631,770 cycles in the transition of two electron spin energy levels of the ground state of the cesium atom.
OK, we’re very, very clever at measuring time. But scientists still find it impossible explaining exactly what this stuff called “time” really is. Albert Einstein in his special theory of relativity in 1905 gave the world the notion that space and time are bound up with each other – the famous space-time continuum referred to in so many cheesy science fiction narratives involving time travel and time paradoxes. Time plays a crucially important role in physics and other sciences. So it must frustrate the guys in the white lab coats that they can’t take a slice of time and put it in a test-tube to find out what it’s made of.
Some philosophers – and some way-out-there scientists – have suggested that time might be nothing more than a manifestation of the mind. And there is something to be said about that bizarre concept. Time does seem to have an illusionary aspect to it. It speeds up or slows down depending on what kind of mood we might be in. Einstein suggested the comparative nature of mind-time when he said, “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”
If time is merely an illusion created in our own psychological perspective, then space might be an illusion, too. And if the space-time continuum happens to be nothing more than an illusion, then it’s logical to suspect the universe and everything in it might be merely something we’ve conceived in our minds. Some folks call it cosmic consciousness.
OK, this goes beyond my comfort zone, but maybe the next step in this line of thinking is the notion that if time and space are constructed inside our minds, then by consciously changing our thoughts, we might manipulate our own personal reality in whatever way we wish. Some Eastern religious philosophies suggest this far-fetched idea. In fact, the Christian religion suggests this possibility by the concept that our beliefs – our mental state of faith– can alter time and space and thus create miracles.
Perhaps my contemplations about time and space and changing the universe by changing our minds aren’t all that far-fetched. Daylight Saving Time is an example of a culturally-induced psychological space-time shift. Society changes the numbers of its clocks at 2 a.m. Sunday. And everyone in America (except for the nice folks in Arizona) will take a few days to do a mental readjustment to get their lives calibrated to the new time frame.
Let’s call in agents Mulder and Scully. Maybe Daylight Saving Times might be an alien conspiracy.