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Very short stories to read at the bus stop.


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Clockwatcher

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One of the reasons I like the idea of atomic clocks is that on the atomic scale -- on the quantum scale -- it's next to impossible to tell what time it is. On the quantum scale, anything that can happen can unhappen. More bizarrely, anything can happen as long as it unhappens so quickly just about no one had a chance to notice. There's no way to tell past from future.

Time, as experienced on the "I think it's about time for a sandwich" scale, is an aggregate of the bazillions of "just abouts", measured as the infinite APR interest rate on borrowing matter and energy from the void, from the future, paid back in one infinitieth of a second so you don't get kneecapped by Maxwell's Demon, Choronzon, Yog-Sothoth, or whoever it is who is the Keeper of the Gate these days.

The interest, the vigorish paid on the virtual particles borrowed from the nothingness ... this is where time and space come from. This is the source of the expansion force that pushes us apart and into the future.

Atomic clocks count the markers called back in by the void, reclaiming the tiny tiny tiny bits of glue holding lumps together that could only have been nailed together by a supernova.

It was an impressive feat at the time, an awesome spot of luck, but the house always wins in the end. It's predictable enough to set your watch by.

[*]

Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

12th Aug 2008, 23:35   | tags:

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Euphro says:

Lovely perspective on this shot and one of the most poetic explanations of time at the Planck level I've read. You know, this writing stuff, you should really consider making a living out of it... ;D

14th Aug 2008, 21:53

ouch
:)
Never give a clock to a Chinese person

14th Aug 2008, 23:12

Thanks for the kind words, Euphro. But making a living? Hah. Since I "turned pro" I've made just about enough through writing to take the wife to a good steak dinner -- as long as we paid for our wine out of a different pocket.

The novel hasn't even paid for its first print run yet (although I'm being badgered for revisions for the second edition that'll have better marketing and distribution). Grf.

If I ever get the money to live without working, then I'll have the time to turn the writing into a real money-making venture. As soon as I no longer need the money. :/

It may be too late about the Chinese. I think they make most of the clocks that are in use right now....

[*]

14th Aug 2008, 23:25