Thursday, August 30, 2012

Folks, I regret to inform that the whole wrist watch thing is not working out. A few weeks back I argued that if we all had wrist watches and set it 5 … 10 …15 minutes fast or something, we would be able to plan and be at an appointment on time  better than most people today who rely on their cell-phones' exact-to-the-second time display :

$ 80 and 3 weeks later, here's what happened to the plan. This "PLAN"  managed to do something equivalent to disastrously attempting sky-diving from 15000 feet altitude without a parachute and consequently, it FELL FLAT ON TO THE GROUND.  F-L-A-T. Long story short, the whole scheme was a total disaster.

I set the time on my wrist watch 10 minutes fast. Because I knew it is 10 minutes more than the exact time, my brain's muscle memory automatically started subtracting those 10 minutes in order to convince me that I still have time to watch the climax of this "Australian Master Chef" episode. So now, I am back to being goddamn late everyday for everything.
I am officially "time-"less; I am without time. An autopsy quickly revealed  that  the key part here is that I knew how to back-compute the real time. People like me don't deserve to know what the real time should be if we have make the system work. So, here I am, unveiling my new plan in which the watch is set fast but I shouldn't know how much fast it is. Such a watch always follows a rule like :
display time = "real time" + "positive random error"
The error can be anywhere from 1 minute to 20 minutes and it changes every second or whatever works - specifics later ... basically outlining the idea at this time. Such a slightly biased device injects sufficient conservatism and soon I will be forced helplessly to perceive the "fake time" as "real time". Therefore, I will end up always responding earlier than required and ultimately become the gold-medal winning all-star undisputed mega champion in the "Showing Up On Time" category. Ta-Daa ...

Strangely, my idea for a perfect watch no longer has anything to do telling the exact time anymore. I know what you are thinking. This is the most daffa idea you ever heard for a time-piece. But, how many ideas for time-pieces did you hear? huh? I know my loyal opposition will slam me by saying the device has lost all its intended purpose of showing the gradual, linear marching of time. Hey, If you have no better artificial alternatives to asking me to more disciplined at the soul-level, you have no right to criticize me. Come on ... what's a slight error if it helps you discipline your life ? Besides, it's right about time we reviewed our obsession with precision and exactitude which is becoming a joke these days. Check this news out:

Delegates at an international telecommunications meeting in Geneva were to decide on Thursday whether to recommend the elimination of leap seconds, which are occasionally added to the world’s atomic clocks to keep them synchronized with Earth’s rotational cycles.

Did you know that a few seconds are cranked up sporadically every year so as to make sure the earth is in the same relative location with respect to the sun as last year and other stars in the milky way galaxy , that too in a universe that is continually expanding? Such silly time-keeping antics is apparently a "potential nightmare for computer networks that depend on precise time to coordinate communications". This is delegates of international telecommunications meeting we are talking about. These are science people and not some voodoo-shamanistic-whackaloons who may not be able to take readings off an instrument but can make your irritating boy-friend disappear for real as you please. I don't know what these "delegates" do but they did name themselves in a self-important manner while they worked for last 10 years on what to do with these so called "leap seconds" only to decide that they need 3 more years to figure it out. 3 more years to decide about these leap seconds !!!

Humanity's mythological obsession to stay aligned with the heavens has reached new levels of ridiculousness. The ancient civilizations relied on recurring starry sky patterns to run their hunter-gatherer-farming economies.  It was an average give-or-take type of time-keeping system and worked fairly well for the time. Now that we invented the iron-rigid time-keeping mechanismos and atomic clocks, we every day find out that it is dead wrong to lazily stereotype the universe by declaring "History repeats itself". No … look closer, pay attention ... history clearly is not repeating itself, which is why I have SOME HOPE that we will improve. If we had been locked into a cycle, what's there to look forward to? Anyway, astro-dudes and cosmo-folks keep finding that everything out there is (slightly) aperiodic and nothing in the universe is truly in cycles. This is such a bummer for the whole idea of time-keeping which needs some sense of repetition. Either, you stay with the motions of the stars and the heavens and go with the nonlinear time which perfectly works for choosing a partner in the arranged marriage protocol (or) just shut up and have your own tick-tock where the worst case scenario is that you will have an overhead scorching sun at 2 AM in 50000 years. Don't you get it? The heavens are doing everything to put us off course.  The universe is expanding like some couch potato who all day watches re-runs of desperate housewives, the sun seems to be having its own mood swings, the earth is wobbling like a drunk in its orbit -  many cosmic phenomena are continually introducing long-term errors in our clocks. If you thought the progression of Sumerian to Mayan to Greek to Hindu to Chinese to Roman to Gregorian calendars, the time-zones, the leap year rules, the day-light saving was desperate enough, isn't the "leap seconds" business a new low? Meanwhile, someone suggested we need a 13th astrological sun-sign if your exact fate should be predicted correctly. What's going on? Perhaps, its an indication for us to stop chasing the stars. May be we humans and our meth-lab egos have become an embarrassing blot to the cosmos at large ?  May be, we will be forced to stick to our lame atomic clocks based on the Cesium-133 atom. The message seems writ all across the magnificent celestial vastness and the empyrean kingdoms of interstellar hyperdrives. Will we ever dance to the beat of the cosmos? Oh Heavens! Have we angered the Gods? Don't they care about us? Only time will tell.

In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

And, you wanted to laugh on my probabilistic time-piece idea?



VENKAT said...

Ha Ha good one. I follow 15 minutes ahead time on my wrist watch...........luckily it works.

g2 said...

In our house in Rajahmundry, there are three wall clocks that show three different times. I had no idea which one showed the exact time.

So for me, the time was always a range... like sometime between 10:35 and 10:55.

BK Chowla, said...

It doesn't apply to me.I reach ahead of time always

Sash! said...

@ Mavayyagaru: luckily, you are from a generation which wore wrist watches and knew how to respect it ... nowadays too many things to do with one gadget : check mail, tweet my thought, text to a friend not to disturb as I am use the twiter app, facebook status, watching funny videos ... where is the time ? on top of it, the clock is not even 10 minutes fast ... so we are late forever ... :P

@ g2: see, learning starts at home ... all these rotten ideas are because of godavari water ... damn, why did the sentence sound better in Telugu ? :P

@ chowla: wow ... lucky you !!!

Twilight Musings said...

I am also time obsessed to keep a clock in every room and usually they get out-of-sync pretty quick. So, time is always (real time + random component) -[epistemic uncertainty, eh? :) ].

Re: cyclic aspect. Come on, do you really think such nonlinear high-dimensional dynamic systems as heavens should be perfectly cyclic? If they are more or less settle to be 'strange attractors',isn't it ok to call the projections as 'cyclic' in imprecise terms?

Also, the best long term clock keeping (with basic tools) is the star map. What has reading time got to do with the divisions of the elliptic? Adding one more 'constellation' is like putting one more gradation on the clock. That doesn't change the time itself now, does it?

Sash! said...

@ twilight: I have to agree with you on everything ...

i figured using big words like "epistemic" will alienate the general reader whom I try my best to make him feel awkward all the time ... but not knowing what the error is indeed epistemic ... couldn't agree more !!!

That was my point too, isn't it ? We have this notion of time-keeping that is rigidly periodic and we try to caliberate against a clearly non-linear dynamic system with no stable equilibrium state ... when it is out of sync, we try to invent all these farcical adjustments like leap year and so on ...

I was a little sarcastic, but I think we do an amazing job trying to be in sync with the heavenly bodies ... how could we get the curiosity landed otherwise. The best clock has got to do with nature, circadian rhythms and our biology and planetary patterns ... since thats where we came from ... we are all star-stuff (carl sagan) .... :)

Twilight Musings said...


Hey, this is the only place I can crack lame inside jokes on uncertainties.:)

I agree with the main point. Just because we can get millisecond precision on time measurement doesn't mean we have to follow it.

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