Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
T’other evening, on a relatively rare date, Mrs. R and I paid a visit to the local planetarium in order to take in a show on black holes. I would guess that I was considerably younger than the youngest gel the last time I sat down under the dome.
You may snicker behind the decanter and mutter to each other under cover of the cracking of walnuts, “Sink me, do these people know how to party or what?” I will say in defense that a) Mrs. R is, as regular readers may recall, the science teacher at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method and was eager to do a little recon on behalf of Teh Children®, b) Ol’ Robbo is an absolute sucker for big screen depictions of the Grandeur of the Cosmos, full of which this short film, narrated in his gravelly Aslan voice by Liam Neeson, was nicely chocked, c) we went for Chinese afterwards, and d) none of yer damned biznay.
Suffice to say, a good time was had by all.
Anyhoo, the reason I mention this is that the film, although really rayther vague and surfacey, touched on a point around which ol’ Robbo has always had trouble wrapping his braims. You see, in discussing the four known dimensions of the Universe, the presentation touched on Einstein’s noodlings about the possibility of the fourth dimension – that of time – being subjected to corruption, variation and warping.
Despite what his college transcripts in genetics and organic chem might suggest to the contrary, ol’ Robbo has always prided himself on possessing a certain logical, analytical, scientific side. Heck, in high school physics, there were few in my class better able to calculate, given a frictionless environment of course, exactly what force would be necessary to put a cannon ball fired at a given elevation right down the smokestack of an oncoming train traveling at a given speed.
But while I can grasp, at least at some level, the bending of the physical universe in three dimensions – via gravity – and even the bending of these three dimensions relative to Time, I simply cannot fathom the bending of Time itself. In other words, I can grasp a physical phenomenon proceeding faster or slower, depending upon the conditions, easily enough. What I can’t grasp is the changing of the chronological marker against which said phenomenon is measured.
Or, as Neo might have put it, “Whoa.”
Incidentally, the audience for this show was chock-a-block with small children, as might be expected. One of them, aged perhaps four or five, was to my immediate right one row back. Her commentary on teh film, produced non-stop and in a very piercing voice, consisted of the alternating phrases, “Is that the black hole?” and “Daddy, I’m really scared….” I was very tempted to wheel round on her father – who was discussing Palie vestry politicks with his neighbor throughout – and hiss, “Hey, man! I spent five whole dollars on this ticket and I want my money’s worth! So shut her, man….”
Of course, I didn’t. But I had quite a good chuckle thinking about it. Still didn’t like the kid very much, tho’.