Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Time is running out

Today I was going to tell you about the conference of exorcists meeting in Poland to tackle the worldwide problem of vampires, but a much more pressing issue has arisen that I need to discuss while I have the time.

The issue is that time is speeding up.  I'm sure we've all noticed this.  It's becoming harder and harder to get everything done that needs doing, and there just seem not to be enough hours in the day.  Well, according to a story that popped up in my news feed today... there aren't.

The article, entitled "Is Time Speeding Up?", begins with the following paragraph:
Time is actually speeding up (or collapsing).  For thousands of years the Schumann Resonance or pulse (heartbeat) of the Earth has been 7.83 cycles per second.  The military have used this as a very reliable reference.  However, since 1980 this resonance has been slowly rising.  It is now over 12 cycles per second!  This means there is the equivalent of less than 16 hours per day instead of the old 24 hours!
Okay.  I mean, my only question would be, "What?"  The Schumann resonance is an atmospheric phenomenon, an electromagnetic resonance caused by lightning discharges in the ionosphere.  And even if the frequency of the resonance is increasing (which I could find no credible evidence of in any case), there's no way we could know if it's been stable "for thousands of years," because it was only discovered in 1952.  And anyway, why would this have anything to do with how fast time is passing?

Then I decided to do a little research, and it turns out that this is only scratching the surface of the "accelerating time" theory.  There was one article from a guy whose proof that time is speeding up was that all the clocks in his house are running fast.  Another guy, Terrence McKenna, whose name keeps coming up in threads on this topic -- so he must be an expert -- says that the rate of increase in time is such that it will become on infinite on...

... wait for it...

December 21, 2012.

Admit it, you knew there'd be a Mayan calendar reference in here somewhere.

By far my favorite post I saw on the topic came from a guy who evidently thinks that time is like a giant cosmic game of tetherball.  (You can read his entire post here.  I recommend drinking a couple of shots of tequila first.)  He gives this convoluted explanation of a ball hanging on a string tied to a rotating pole, and as the string winds around the pole, the ball spins faster (i.e. time speeds up), and the string gets shorter and shorter and the ball spins faster and faster and then finally SPLAT the ball hits the pole.

At that point, he says, "Weird shit happens."

Very scientifically put, and of course the poster thinks that the Great Temporal Tetherball Collision is going to occur in December 2012.  Afterwards, he claims that the ball will start to spin the other way, and the universe will be reborn, and will be "nicer."

Well, that sounds like a happy thought.

Interestingly, the whole subject has even permeated discussions on physics forums.  In one thread I looked at, once again titled "Is Time Speeding Up?", there were a bunch of woo-woos who blathered on for a while about the expansion of the universe and how time would have to speed up to "compensate" for the expansion of space, and so on, and finally one reputable physicist responded, in some exasperation, "Most of the responses above are gibberish.  No one has even asked the question, 'Speeding up relative to what?'  General Relativity established that time passes at different rates in different reference frames, but these posters seem to think that time as a whole is speeding up -- which is a meaningless proposition, since there is nothing outside of time against which you could detect such a change."

Well.  I guess he told them.  Of course, it won't make any difference, because people who think this way are never going to believe some dumb Ph.D. in physics when they've got the whole internet to rely on.  Besides, this physicist is probably a reptilian alien Man-in-Black from the Planet Nibiru who is part of the Bilderberg Group and works for HAARP, and is trying to spread disinformation.  You know how that goes.

So anyway, I guess that's today's heaping helping of pseudoscientific absurdity.  I think I'll wrap this up, because (1) if I read any more websites like the ones I had to peruse to write this, my brain will turn into cream-of-wheat, and (2) I'm running short on time.

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