Tag Archives: cosmology

What: There never even was an eight-ball???

Ok, I have just now had a rare Eureka moment in connection with the quandary described in the above post!
Dripping wet, I pull on a pair of pants (this time) and, finding no one on the street who cares, return home to at least document it on Word Press:

The problem of Simultaneity, alias “so what time is it ‘really‘ on the Sun right now?” is a simple result of common sense extrapolating into the un-extrapolate-able zone, so to speak.
If we remember the scene above of the poor fellow hammering stakes into the ground on a far-away hill, and the sounds of his hammer-hits being delayed as seen by us the observers, we have no real problem with that. Anymore than we have with thunder following lightning by quite a few seconds. Sound is kinda sluggish, as velocities go these days. And light being faster, indeed ‘instant’ for all practical purposes on the Earth’s surface, we assume that the post-driver we see with ‘our own lyin’ eyes’ is ‘doing-it’ in ‘real time’.
But then Light was discovered to have a finite speed itself. Ugh. The timing of Jupiter’s moons appears to ‘advance’ as the big planet gets closer to the Earth in its travels, among other early hints.
“No problem” we say, “‘what we see is ‘what happened around Jupiter an hour or so ago’.” A simple repeat of the ‘speed-of-sound’ workaround. Everybody’s happy…
Until… ‘A punch in the gut this way comes!’. Maybe from a black hole?

Yes indeed, from a black hole, (or, as they prefer to be called ‘a differently-pigmented hole’)
Hard to say anything nice about a black hole. In fact you can’t (or ‘aren’t allowed‘ to say much at all about ’em. Ha, forget about what’s up over (down? ) there this Tuesday afternoon August 15th 2017. Deep inside the ‘nothingness we ‘see’, other than a froth of doomed matter circling the drain awaiting ‘nothing-i-zation’, well, Time and Space have stopped being and happening.
“Because-a why?” we protest.
“Well”, say the dancing wu-li physicists, “because even information is crushed inside the singularity.” It don’t matter how we feel about it, there no longer any ‘there‘ there. A cosmic ‘nothing-burger, no ketchup, no fries’.
Ok, fighting for naive realism and common sense, I grudgingly agree, but make an exception, un-wisely, for my ‘I still say it moves‘ view of the Sun:
“We’ll know what’s happening on the Sun ‘now’ in about eight minutes”, I declaim. *looks at watch*

A deafening buzzer sounds! I am led out of the Academy of Modern Physics in shackles.
‘About what you cannot know, nothing must be said’, I speed-read the wall-hanging on my way to the paddy-wagon.
“Somewhere in Pennsylvania at this very moment, doves are mourning my incarceration”, I console myself from my cell.
The Warden, a lascivious smirk on his repulsive face, bursts my ‘common sense’ bubble with diabolic glee:
“Sorry, sucka, my brother-in-law  shot ’em all a half a second ago!”

Eight minutes behind the Eight-Ball since the morning I wuz born

Note: This is a serious post about, like, cosmology and shit like that there, once you get past the infantile jokes.
8:13 AM 17 April 1949, Harrisburg, PA. (The Population Registry on the Sun clocked my birth in as “8:21”. We’ll get to that shortly.)

In a recent ‘What’s your favorite star?’ CNN poll our Sun scored a narrow majority, (67%), edging out Vega, Arcturus, and Beetlejuice, (popular these days) which were offered as options. A full 23% of the respondents declined to answer, citing either ‘No opinion’ or their objection to The Sun being included in a ‘star-popularity poll.’
But frankly, deplorables, our beloved solar plexus, without which we’d be toast in a New York minute, is, in fact a star, just like the other quintillion+ burning plasma-bags we see, but from an awesome distance.
Our own BFF star, viewed approx 150,000,000 kilometers from our front-and-center seats, is a reliable sight every morning. Tickets to view the nearest competitive attraction, Proxima Centauri, from the same close-up vantage-point are selling as we speak at a less-than-brisk rate. ‘Price-considerations’ are perhaps the main market factor. Still, with current technology, an investment of merely ‘1000 times the net output of the human race since what’s-her-name, Leaky’s skeleton?’, plus the proviso that for that price you only get a guarantee that your great-great-great-grand-daughter will be able to peer at it kinda wet-blankets the demand.
But that’s not why I’m writing this. No, there is another more immediate (and conceptual) problem an’ it’s keeping me awake nights. Read on:

You’ve all certainly watch as a fellow way off in the distance hammers steel posts into the ground. You hear the clang as metal strikles metal, but with a ‘speed-of’sound’ delay we common-sense Earthlings take for granted. I’ve even seen the poor bloke finish hammering and then heard a series of ‘clangs’ even after he’s already grabbed a beer.
Were he driving posts into the Sun , the delay-calculation might look something like this, assuming sound travelling in a vacuum, which it don’t:

Ok, the distance between the Sun and the Earth, 149.6 million kilometers needs to be divided by the distance sound travels in one second, 344 meters. (of course, in the Earth’s atmosphere, but we’re just having fun here, right?
The result is a time of travel of four hundred thirty-three thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine seconds. (433, 139)
With sixty second to a minute, sixty minutes to an hour, and 24 hours to a day, we can didvide the seconds tally by 60X60X24=86,400 seconds per day.
Thus, the sound of the fellow hammering on the Sun takes 5,013 days to get here. Hmm.. better than the USPS?

But seriously, even the Light, (by which we see, from Earth, the poor sun-burned dim-wit, duh) takes its good old time to reach us.
Or does it?
There are two schools of thought on this, and I can’t decide in which one to enroll.
 The first, (I’ll call it Common sense) simply decides that what we see happening on the Sun is what happened there 8 minutes ago. The fucking thing coulda super-nova-ed already, while you were on the toilet, and, without a proper notice, rendering wiping your butt your last act on the planet.
However…the demi-god Albert Einstein, who was presumably above prosaic ‘calls of nature’, stood on the shoulders of Newton and tried, really tried, to show us the Second school-of-thought, a bitter pill to swallow but mathematically robust and un-arguable.
The speed of Light, he gently implied, is not only ‘as fast as it gets; no, it’s more fundamentally ‘The Speed of Reality'(!)
Take a second here, and a deep breath. He is in fact dis-allowing any naive statements about events separated by distance and time. Which proviso solidly include my ‘I see the Sun as it was 8 minutes ago’. There is no universal ‘Now’, no matter how much our instinct clings to the concept.
At least we are not alone in our misery; the Alpha Centurions, four-plus years of light travel-time from us, are not to be pitied for still dancing in the streets to ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ and the ‘now-only-a-fond-memory’ TV broadcasts from Earth of Obama’s re-election.
On the contrary! Their ‘Reality’, as arguably ‘real’ as ours, does not, and cannot, include the disgusting elevation of an illiterate, perverted, racist piece of shit to the United States presidency. Don’t you envy them already?
Disclaimer: who knows what scoundrel those 7-tentacled lizards might have elected by them-selves? But in our Reality, it didn’t happen… yet. Whew!
Finally: So what’s with the eclipse (Aug 21; be there) ? Does it bother anyone but me that the Moon, one ‘light-second’ away is slated to block the light which the Sun sent our way eight minutes ago? Kinda sounds like shooting ahead of a duck in flight.
But then, this whole subject spins me in metaphysical and cosmological circles. Some nights I couldn’t even shoot an elephant in my pajamas. How (when?) he got in there, yeah, that’s an easier question. I envy Groucho.