Book Review #21

Once upon a time, a man purchased a book. It was

A Brief History of Time

The book: A Brief History Of Time

The Author: Stephen Hawking

The Review:
Through luck, and association with a particular social group, the man who purchased the book, later got to actually meet the great man, Stephen Hawking himself. He informed him that he had bought and read the book. Largely through Hawking’s handler, the man who guided his wheelchair and who had learned to interpret his minuscule movements, he was asked what he thought of the book.

He replied that he had not understood a word of it. Well…. He got words like a, to, at, the, and, but the rest were over his head like an umbrella. Hawking was surprisingly pleased by this, because it proved that the man had actually read it, even if he didn’t get it.

I tried to get a copy of this book from the library thirty years ago, when it was first published, but it was too popular, and I finally gave up. Recently I thought I’d have another go at it. Hawking’s writing style is pleasantly clear and easy. He claimed that he wanted to provide this information for the ordinary person. Your ‘Ordinary Person’ may vary. MAGA-hat-wearing Trump supporters won’t be forming book clubs to discuss it, nor will it be a hot topic at truck stops.

Even though I’m retired, I’ve kept up my dues to the United Nerds International Union. I was a good halfway through this small (214 page) book before I had to start checking terms and concepts. After the body of the book, Hawking included 2-3 page bios on the likes of Einstein, Galileo, and Newton, to show how their works and discoveries have provided the foundation for modern understanding of the universe.

For a book on time, Hawking spent the first several chapters discussing/explaining matter. Matter and Time are interwoven. You can’t have time without matter. When I was born, scientists had only recently discovered that molecules were made up of atoms. The Second World War brought us the A-Bomb – the atom bomb. A few years later, the thermonuclear hydrogen H-Bomb was produced. These showed that the atoms could be torn apart, and jammed together, made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

More powerful and delicate devices, like the CERN Collider, have shown that even these tiny building blocks are made of even tinier bits. Like strange little trouble-making Gremlins, they have names like quarks, muons, pions, mesons, leptons, tachyons, baryons, gravitons, and bosons. While they are too small to reflect light, fun-loving physicists label them as red, blue and green, and insist that they have ‘spin,’ based on how they react with each other, and reality.

Hawking eventually got around to explaining time – how it (so far) only flows in one direction, from past to future. He showed how it is subjective, and is influenced by mass, and speed of travel. I’ve run into most of these terms and concepts before, but it was nice to see them laid out so completely and clearly.

Ordinarily, with a book so nicely written and presented, I’d be recommending it, but not this one. For most of you, your only concern with time is that you arrive at work before the boss gets grumpy about your ETA. If Hawking’s successors are successful at using black holes to reverse the flow of time, you’ll never have to worry about that again.

There was a young lady from Bright
Who could travel faster than light
She set off one day
In a relative way,
And returned the previous night

This book is different – a niche market. Unless the checkout clerk down at Geeks R Us knows you by name, I suggest giving it a pass. Don’t pass up the chance to read my next post. It will be available in no time at all.

Time Travel

I read about time travel. I am intrigued by the paradoxes of time travel. I just LOoove time travel…. except when Daylight Saving Time rolls around. Remember, tonight’s the night. At 2:00 AM, we need to turn all our clocks back one hour, to 1:00 AM. Then we get an extra hour of sleep. (Sure we do. We just party an hour longer.) We’ll probably spend that extra hour trying, and failing, and cursing, to turn all the clocks and watches in the house, back. Thank the mystical gods of silicon, that computers, tablets and the like, are smarter than we are, and do this automatically.

For those who are as chronologically challenged as I am, I have obtained a graphic to aid you with this task.

Daylight time

I hope this helps. I’ll see you tomorrow…. or was that yesterday??! 😳

Flash Fiction #201

Alien Takeover

PHOTO PROMPT © Penny Gadd

ALIEN TAKEOVER

Apteryx reporting. I have managed to infiltrate the Humans, the ones who believe that they are the greatest species on this planet.

I have disguised myself as a ‘houseplant’ and am hiding in plain view. I plan to remain here for several time periods while I absorb all information about them from things they call books.

I have learned about ‘coding’, how they control their computers. I have begun to understand their social structure by scanning the writings of one of their respected philosophers, a being named Doctor Seuss. They communicate in short, simple groups of words.  Hop on Pop.  😆

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

’18 A To Z Challenge – M

Alarm Clock

By dark and dreary mundane passings, are clipped.  (Psst!  Wanna read some poetry?)

A travelling salesman approaches an old codger, sitting in a chair outside the flyspeck-town’s general store.
“Excuse me sir, do you know what time it is?”
“Oh, ‘bout Tuesday, ah reckon.”
“No sir, I need to know the correct time.  I have a train to catch.”
“Tuesday’s close enough.  Ain’t no train till Friday.”

Once, people toiled from sunup to sundown, not caring what time it was, and only vaguely knowing, when the church bells rang, to tell them that it was time to tithe.

As towns and cities grew, it became more important that most folks were doing things at the same time, so the Latin horas became English language hours.

Passing Time was chopped up into 1/60th pieces of the hours.  Compared to the ‘hours’, these little chunks were MINUTE (my-nyoot), and that’s what they were called.  The original meaning of, tiny, small, is still pronounced that way.  Centuries of mush-mouth slide have changed these chunks of time into MINUTES (minnits).

With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, especially steam trains and their schedules, even smaller bits of time became necessary, and the MINUTES got carved into 60 smaller bits.  Since these were the SECOND smaller sections of the hour to be established, that was what they were called.

As modern technology relies more on computerized electronics, and even quantum services, time must be chopped up into finer and finer little portions.  The state-of-the-art technologists of even only a half century ago, would probably be astounded by the use of millisecond – thousandth, microsecond – millionth, nanosecond – billionth, and picosecond – trillionth.

It’s no wonder that Ethel GPS put me in Oregon, instead of Ohio.  She probably just needs new batteries in her watch.  I’ll watch to see if you stop by again soon.  😀

Five Long Years

calendar

That’s what Colin James says my blog has been.

FIVE LONG YEARS
(click above, to hear him say so)

Five years ago, to the day, on November 21, 2011, I first dived into the blog-pool. I had no idea what I was going to say, or how often I would say it.  I finally calmed down enough to casually mention when I reached post number 600.  This one is number 687, reaching toward number 700.  I’ve accumulated 878 followers, (Now I’ve got 879.  Do I hear 880?)(Okay!  I’ve got 880!  Anybody want to go for 900?)  and had 9400 visits, for 32,000 views.

For me, everything is still the same, and yet, everything is different. Society is different.  Politics is different.  The Internet is different.  My writing and posting are different.  Some of that is good.  Some of that, at best, is questionable.

While some of my favored blog-sites from five years ago have shut down, or atrophied, many newer ones continue to entertain, amuse and educate me. I continue to do my best to do the same in return.

The traditional gift for a five-year anniversary is wood. I already have a solid block-head, and I possess several wooden nickels, and even a wooden quarter, so I guess all that’s left for you lovely readers to do, is to commend me for not dying, and not shutting up.  Many thanx to all who visit, like and comment.   😀

Flash Fiction Redux

I am taking advantage of our Fairy Blogmother, Rochelle’s kind offer of a respite from composing Flash Fictions.  Hopefully, some of you missed this one the first time.

Fishing boat

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Georgia Koch

Walking On Water

Mischa had made his living fishing this little inland sea all his life, and his ancestors had done so for untold generations, back into the mists of time.

First the water had got thick, and saltier, then the fish had all but disappeared. Now it was the sea itself which was disappearing.  The little cottage where his parents had raised him was now half a kilometer from the new shoreline.  His fishing boat sat stranded on the mud flats.

He recently met a group of outsiders, “scientists”, studying the Aral Sea. One had taught him a new term – Global Warming.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

All Day, And All Of The Night

fire-roger-bultot

30% of you either can’t count, or don’t know the difference between day and night – or both. Now that you’re insulted, here’s why.

In the picture above, the ‘No Parking’ sign says “from 10 AM to 12 PM.”  I know that they mean only for two hours, but the sign takes it from one ‘time zone’ into another, making it seem as if it indicates fourteen.

Let’s start at the bottom. There is no 12 AM or 12 PM!  The M stands for meridiem, noon, the split second that the sun is highest in the sky.  AM is ante meridiem – before noon.  PM is post meridiem – after noon.  You can’t have a 12:00 o’clock noon that is before noon, or after noon.

I recently was researching something on Dictionary.com, and came across this statement, “Noon is conventionally expressed as 12 p.m. or 12:00 p.m. and midnight as 12 a.m. or 12:00 a.m.” Some quick research revealed that only 30% of people believe that.  Like a bunch of dentists in Reno, it’s not really that big a convention.

I like the Military or Medical way of doing things. With 1200, or 2400, there’s no doubt or confusion.  Son Shimoniac sets his wristwatch to 24 Hour time, or he used to, until he decided to get two pocket watches, one for work, one for dress.

No Parking sign painters in NYC used to be part of the 30% wrong-way crowd, until a court challenge proved them wrong – or at least so confusing as to be unenforceable. Signs had to be repainted, indicating noon as ‘noon’ or ‘Nn’, and midnight as ‘Mn.’

Yin Yang

Let’s learn to count. Did you start at 1, and end at 12?  Actually, you started at zero, and stopped at 12.  If 2 follows 1, and 3 follows 2, and 4 follows 3….then 12 follows 11.  If 1, and 2, and 3.…and 11 are AM, then 12 is AM too.  You don’t start counting at 12, and end at 11.  Like the Yin/Yang, you begin with the least, and end with the most.  The one chronon – noon (or midnight) – between 12:00 and 00:00 is where AM turns to PM.

I was going to continue with my usual long-winded rant, but it’s like explaining that water is wet. If you still don’t get it, if you don’t understand that 12 comes after 11, not before, I can’t help you.  Don’t blame me when you get a parking ticket.  Like the band Chicago’s song, 25 or 6 to 4 – Does anybody really know what time it is?    😕