## Time is simple

Just been marking some Physics 1A coursework. In one question about frames of reference, the expected answer to “what is the key assumption necessary for this to be valid” is apparently “time is simple”. In this case this means relative motion is slow, so no nasty relativistic effects; an identical time co-ordinate can be used in both frames. But “time is simple” made me giggle.

(a) I have just listened to several deadlines whooshing by, when only a moment ago they were nowhere near. It seems obvious that space-time is non-linear. Not just curved but crinkled. We need some kind of adaptive optics equivalent for straightening out the space-time curvature. We must get Doc Brown working on it.

(b) I have been noting further signs of entropy in the old bod. Most distressing. How did this happen? I am still eighteen, obviously. As the Thin White Duke used to sing, Time may change me, but I can’t trace Time. Or maybe Sandy Denny had it down – Who knows where the time goes? Perhaps as her chum RT used to sing, we’ll all meet on the ledge. (Stop now, getting depressing – Ed.)

(c) Meanwhile the Government makes it worse with all this clock changing tomfoolery. My apprentice Jack tells there is an old Navaho saying – only the government can believe that cutting a foot off the bottom of the blanket and sewing it onto the top of the blanket, you get a  longer blanket. Whats more, technology has made it more confusing.

Saturday night I wanted to set an alarm, as I had to get up reasonably early to go do something. I stared at several different digital devices and I really didn’t know whether they would automatically adjust themselves in the middle of the night or not. What should I set the alarm for? When I woke up, how would I know if the change had been made or not? I could easily blow it by an hour in either direction. So I put three different devices on the bedside table and crossed my fingers. Luckily, in the morning, two had changed and one had not, so the conclusion was clear. But Jeez, how nervewracking. Why haven’t I got a CLOCK???

Now you can guess. Device A = radio alarm. Device B= ancient Palm LifeDrive. Device C = mobile phone. Which one was thankfully the dumbest?

### 12 Responses to Time is simple

1. MikeW says:

B

2. andyxl says:

I say nothing. Yet.

3. Rob Ivison says:

given your fondness for bricks, c.

4. Paul says:

My grandfather’s clock, was too tall for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor…

5. andyxl says:

Not sure if you are relating to item (c) or item (b) old chap

6. Martin says:

(c). Why don’t all phones, bricks included, know what time it is?

7. MikeW says:

8. John Peacock says:

My mobile has a setting for “daylight saving”. When you enable it, it advances the clock one hour. That’s all. if you don’t untick that box, you stay on summer time all year. Maybe they assumed that editing the clock setting directly was just too technical for most people? So the answer for me would have been (c).

• I have a Nokia 3310, which is about 10 years old now. (I actually have several 3310s and 3330s so that when one breaks I can move the SIM card to another one.) It’s the right size and has all the functionality I need and practically none that I don’t need. It also has a very good menu structure, much better than even other Nokia phones from the same era. When travelling, I have noticed that it seems to depend on the local network whether the time is (re)set when it is switched on or not. Since the functionality to set the time based on information from the carrier is present even in this rather old model, there is certainly no technical problem in setting the time, at least when the phone is switched on, but, again, it seems that some carriers do it and some don’t.

Maybe all the young dudes never switch their phones off, so the time is never reset. 🙂

9. andyxl says:

By the way folks, it is indeed correct that the dumb item was my phone. I am very grateful for this. But I am thinking that for the sake of sanity I need to get myself a very definitely dumb clock. Just in case. My microwave does have a dumb clock, but I wasn’t going to put that on the bedside table.

10. Michael Merrifield says:

Meanwhile the Government makes it worse with all this clock changing tomfoolery.

I thought that nonsense was all down to you guys north of the border insisting that staying on summertime would confuse the cows, or something. Bring back British Standard Time, I say!

• Clive Page says:

I disagree: clock-changing tomfoolery may be inconvenient, but the alternative is worse.

I was a student when the UK experimented with BST all year around in the 1960s. Even in Cambridge it got light well after 9 am in winter, so that meant that I had to cycle to 9 o’clock lectures in the dark, as well as going home in the dark most days from practical classes etc. After we change back to GMT in winter most people manage to have one of their two journeys to/from school/work/whatever in the light; there simply isn’t enough daylight to go around to manage both of them in the light (except for part-time workers).

Most adults who lived through the 1960s experiment seem to have found the experience unpleasant and there was a considerable majority at the time against continuing the BST-all-year experiment.

All the same, I’ve no objection to Scotland doing things differently, if this gets popular support.

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