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Nicole Hennessy

Professors explain your brain just hasn’t processed it yet

When people say time is relative, they mean perception alters reality.

For example, if the sun were to burn out right now, you wouldn’t know about it until eight minutes later, said physics lecturer Thomas Emmons.

“You’ve never seen anything in the present, you always see in the past,” Emmons said.

The reason for this is the fact that light travels at 186,000 miles per second.

“If I were to suddenly disappear — in terms of the universe, I’m gone, but it’s a millionth of a second until you notice that,” Emmons said.

So time is technically based on how fast light travels from one place to another.

“Everyone considers the universe in their own way,” physics lecturer John Barrick said as he explained that time is understood in a spatial context because it is not physically manifest. “Time is nothing more than the separation of physical events.”

Still, the question of time and when to use the word reality in relation to it has trickled through the grooves of many brains.

Albert Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

This idea is reciprocated by Barrick in his assertion that if there were no such thing as time, you would go to bed and get out of bed simultaneously.

The inconvenience that this lack of separation of events presents has ultimately caused humans to standardize an idea — time.

Artists like Salvador Dali have often grappled with this standardization in their paintings.

In Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” the “soft clocks” dripping from the severed limb of a tree and other undecipherable forms are often thought to represent the irrelevance and artificiality of standardized time.

“We make our own reality,” said Barrick, who acknowledged the artificiality of time, purporting that it is “something that we, as humans, contrive as opposed to the universe.”

Though we measure the occurrence of time scientifically, nobody has completely divulged the concept on an esoteric level.

But like Dali, many artists, philosophers and poets have debated upon the actuality and existence of it.

German poet Heinrich Heine, commenting on the circularity of time evident in the revolutions of the sun, the shape of clocks and the idealism of reincarnation wrote, “However long a time may pass, according to the eternal laws governing the combinations of this eternal play of repetition, all configurations which have previously existed on this earth must yet meet, attract, repulse, kiss, and corrupt each other again.”

Lewis Carroll, another writer who addressed this vast subject in his work, used philosophy as the basis for many of the themes in his most famous book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

Giving simple instructions to the reader, he wrote “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”

Contact features reporter Nicole Hennessy at [email protected].