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Time and Mankind Part I

Stars are formed through a long process, as gas drifting in the universe is drawn together by the force of gravity.  However, even though they live a very long time, stars  begin  to  cool  down  meaning generate less heat as their fuel begins to run out, and without the heat  to  counteract  their  gravitational pull, they begin to contract. And such continues process of contraction results in the eventual collapse of their mass. Ultimately they die forming what is called a black hole.

The stars beyond their ecstatic utter brilliance and beauty have the utmost significance in science. Looking  up  into  the  stars  in  the night sky is not only looking at far distance  in  space  but  also  looking back in time. The distance of stars is so great that it takes several years to reach the earth and so when we look up the stars in the sky in the night, we not only see stars  that  are  burning  at  present but  also  those  that  have  already burned  out,  dead.  Here is how. Light  travels  at  300,000  kilometers  per  second  and  the  time  it takes for light from stars to reach us  is  the  distance  to  the  star  divided by this speed. The sun is the nearest star to our world it is about 150 million km. Dividing this distance by the speed of light gives us 500 seconds, or 8 minutes and 20 seconds. The  second  nearest  star to  our  planet,  Proxima  Centauri, however is so far that its distance is only convenient to be expressed in  ‘light  years,’  distance  traveled by light in one year. Proxima Centauri is 4.3 light years away which means that light from it takes 4.3 years to reach to our eyes.

Other stars however are so much further in the space. For example, the Deneb, farthest star that can be seen without any great difficulty under the contemporary light polluted skies, is about 1550 light years away from Earth. However, under  favorable  conditions,  in dark  clear  skies,  we  are  able  to see stars that are much more distant  than  Deneb,  even  stars  out of our galaxy. Nonetheless, it can take tens of thousands of years for light from some stars even within our own galaxy as our galaxy is about 100,000 light years across. And for the light of stars in nearby galaxies that we can see it can take millions of years to reach earth. The farthest objects we can see are quasars.  They are so distant that the light we see from them today was left billions of years ago. This is why it is said “when we look up at  the  stars  we  are  looking  back in  time,  because  when  we  look at very distant objects we can see what the Universe was like a long time ago.”

Man  has  explored  the  deepest  mysteries  of  nature,  learned and  solved  infinite  enigmas  and accomplished  a  great  many  astonishingly  miraculous  glories of  triumph  throughout  human existence.  Myriad  personages of  valor,  mettle,  hard  work,  and aptitude  whom  we  remember  as warriors,  leaders,  philosophers, inventors,  innovators,  scientists, artists and saints have left lasting impress  over  the  history  of  mankind.  Thinking  of  the  possibility of the light of stars left thousands, millions and/or even billion years ago being visible on today’s skies allures  one  into  the  examination of one’s or even the entire humanity’s existence in this world or in the  universe  for  that  matter.  Indeed, so intriguing is the analogy among the existence of the stars in outer  space  and  people  on  earth, and  at  the  same  time  both  stars and  humans  as  part  of  the  universe. And such curios phantoms are bound to lead to the realization and  feeling  of  how  paltry  and  of less consequence human achievements really are in the light of the whole universe, no matter how colossal  and  momentous  they  seem here on earth.

Nonetheless, considering the overwhelmingly mighty, vast and mysterious nature of the universe in general and the earth in particular the resilience and ingenuity of humanity in its quest of conquering the natural environs is meritorious.  Mankind has challenged nature and came out exultant. Man  has  mastered  terrestrial  life and  is  growing  more  and  more efficient  by  the  day  in  bettering life on land. Furthermore, despite his land-dwelling nature mankind has found the way to explore and make a use of the surface and the bottom of the untamable seas and oceans of the planate and fly over the wonders of the skies among birds.  Neither  did  man’s  telluric creation stopped him from exploring  the  space  through  satellites and  various  sophisticated  equipment  planted  in  various  space stations here on earth or on other planets, nor from flying up to outer space in person and even walk on the moon. Humanity has been able to master a great many natural  barriers  and  has  made  life  on the  planet  easier  and  more  comfortable for the species. However, still a few secretes of nature still remain to be mysteriously unfathomable, and one of such inexplicable conundrums of nature is the enigmatic of time.

Time still is out of human control. It is not only that man has a meager  life  span  in  comparison to  other  things  in  the  universe but also because of man’s failure of  using  that  life  span  most  efficiently.  Without exceptions, everybody makes mistakes. People repeatedly do what they were not supposed to do and fail from doing what they were. Hence is the commonly shared feeling among humanity, regret. Regret is an obsessively  powerful  feeling  which within it bears a wish to go back in  time  and  do  what  were  not done, undo and/or redo what were. However, it is not only going back in time and fix the past that people are wishful of but also controlling the present. Many  among  those whom their contemporary present have blessed them with what they want and are loving and enjoining their wish that they could slow down  time  or  even  pause  it.  On the  contrary,  many  among  those whom their contemporary present have deprived them of the things they  want  and  are  therefore  in misery  wish  that  they  could  rush time or even forward it to the future they hope for. What’s more, a lot of people wish that they could have some means of knowing what the future will have hold. Indeed, deep inside a lot of almost every one, at least at some or another time in their lives, wish that they could somehow travel to the future and see what the future will have looked like.

The  powerful  and  obsessive feeling  of  regret,  the  yearning  to control the present and foresee the future on one hand and the untamable wildness of time on the other may be the reasons behind the fascination  and  hang  up  of  humanity on the idea of time travel and the  invention  of  time  machine. Ever since the times of the ancient Greek civilization philosophers have been theorizing the nature of time and hypothesizing the possibility of time travel. Although they have  not  come  to  definite  judgment on the issue physicists have also  been  pondering,  theorizing and  experimenting  possibilities of time travel from the early days of  science  till  the  present.  Some suggest that there is a possibility of time travel providing different theories of possibilities meanwhile others argue that time travel is impossible.  One of the most prominent physicists of our time Stephen Hawking for instance has suggested that the absence of tourists from the future is an argument against the existence of time travel. For the most part however, the fancy of time travel and time machine have been the realm of science fiction.  In 1881 Edward Page Mitchell published a book that involves a clock that allowed three men to travel backwards in time titled ‘The Clock That Went Backward.’  However, arguably it was ‘The Time Machine’ a book by H.  G.  Wells that  played  the prominent  role  in  bringing  about widespread  public  consciousness on  about  the  idea  of  time  travel through time machine.

One  way  or  another,  however, the  fact  remains  that  mankind  has  always  been  conscious about the value of time. So far, the attempts of man to master time whether through time machine or other means haven’t bore any success. Therefore, the plausibility of manipulating time through travel remains to be a science fiction fantasy. For this reason, from where we  stand,  for  all  mankind,  the only possible way to master time doesn’t  seem  to  go  any  further than  making  the  best  out  of  the time we have got here on earth.

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