Scientists have been asking some serious questions about the nature and existence of time itself. Much of the debate arises from the bizarre behavior of subatomic particles as described by the science of quantum mechanics. For example, electrons have been known to move from one level to another without passing through the space between levels. Another case is when two entangled subatomic particles are separated by a large distance, they respond to changes in each other, instantaneously; as if there were no distance at all separating them. These strange phenomena don’t fit with Einstein’s theories that combine three-dimensional space with time, usually referred to as space-time. Space-time is imagined to be like a taut blanket that gets distorted by the mass of objects like stars and planets that lay on its surface. Some scientists argue that time may have more than one dimension, others say time is a figment of our minds, and others claim that the past, present and future exist simultaneously. So, what does this scientific debate about time have to do with us, today? We often can’t tell for many years how a scientific discovery will affect our lives. In the meantime, science fiction authors write novels that grab hold of the ideas and provide us with great entertainment. Yet, the answer to the mystery of time doesn’t need to wait for science to discover its nature.
Although Earth was born about 4.6 billion years ago, complex animal life has only been around for about 550 million years. Modern humans have only been around for about 200,000 years. So, we exist in a timeframe that’s a mere blink of an eye, geologically speaking. We’ve been given precious little time to accomplish anything at all. Whatever we do eventually deteriorates, as entropy takes its natural course. Yet, I believe we should be careful not to waste the little time we’ve been given. In our own individual ways we each can be part of the creative process within the cosmic odyssey. Whether we provide comfort, a service, or a product to our fellow Earthly travelers, everyone can achieve a meaningful existence. Our interactions with customers, friends, relatives, neighbors and loved-ones can be a source for good, if we so choose. Living and doing good, in the moment, is the answer to the conundrum of time, as no scientific discovery can alter that basic truth.
I once heard that the tallest candidate for President almost always wins, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. They say it’s a myth and that before 1900 the shortest candidate had the edge. After 1900 the tallest had an edge, but not much. Overall, the tallest seems to have a slight edge. I decided to take the raw data and adjust it with some common-sense assumptions, as follows:
1. Elections before television (prior to 1930) should be eliminated. Most voters could not judge the height of the candidates before TV. I’m sure that the shorter candidate knew to avoid still photos showing himself aside his taller opponent. Today, on TV, they can see them side-by-side and standing next to other people.
2. I eliminated elections with height differences of “same height” or “less than one inch”, under the assumption that puffy hair or shoe/boot heels could easily make up the difference, and that many people would not notice a less than one inch difference.
3. I eliminated second term elections under the assumption that physical stature is only significant when one has no record to judge. Once a voter judges an incumbent’s performance, I believe height probably becomes secondary.
4. Ignore elections of unopposed candidates.
5. Ignore elections where the height of one or more candidates is unknown.
Although there were only 7 elections that met my criteria, 6 of the seven were won by the tallest candidate. In the one election won by the shortest candidate (Bush beat Gore), Gore actually won the popular vote, which is consistent with my hypothesis.
QED: The significantly taller candidate for President of the USA, in the age of electronic media, is highly likely to win a first term contest.
Look at it this way: if you flipped a coin, and heads came up 7 times in a row, what would you think? (If it’s a “fair coin,” the odds are 1 in 128 that heads would come up 7 times in a row.) Of course the sample of 7 elections is small. I would have preferred at least 30 elections, but I won’t live that long.
Recently I heard a brief TV commentary on how scientists are getting closer to extending human life by slowing the aging process. I didn't hear any details, but it reminded me of something I read almost 20 years ago. A Russian scientist, if I recall, was working with "free radicals" . . . no, not terrorists! I'm talking about highly reactive atoms or ions that damage DNA. This scientist believed that antioxidants would counteract free radicals and allow us to live hundreds of years.
Then later, along came knowledge of telomeres which are the ends of chromosomes involved with the way cells reproduce by splitting. Scientists learned that each time a human cell divides, the telomere gets shorter until it can't divide anymore, and then the body can't repair itself with new cells; hence, old age and, eventually, death. It would seem that now science has some ideas on how to prevent the telomere from getting shorter and shorter. Interesting is the fact that humans are the only animals that have this telomere shortening process that limits lifespan. Gee, I wonder how Evolution got that to happen?
So, it would seem that antioxidants would stop free radicals from damaging DNA and causing diseases like cancer, and the latest telomere-boosting drug should keep some people, alive today, living into their hundreds. Actually, perhaps living to 700 or more years unless they get hit by a magnetobus . . . the public transport of the future. This all sounds fascinating, but think of the ramifications for society.
Today, we can't manage Social Security and Medicare, mainly because the population is living longer due to better medical care and ample food. What would happen if people lived to be 700 years old? If you were to put $10,000 into an investment earning compounded interest at 4% annually, and add only $1.00 per year, by 700 years you'd have accumulated $8,403 trillion. Putting that in perspective, recent annual world GDP is only $65 trillion. Remember, that's what happens for just one person. What happens when billions of people do something like that? My guess is that governments will confiscate people's savings when they get over a certain amount. I'm not proposing that idea . . . just guessing based on how governments love to tax and spend. Also, if we have a problem with too much money in savings, just think about the overpopulation problem we'd have when most deaths are from accidents.
I think we'd better get a long-term, practical energy policy right away because a lot more people will need a lot more power to survive. I think near-immortality is coming sooner than people would think, and we'd better start thinking about how to deal with the consequences, now. It's unfortunate that short-term, serious problems like persistent unemployment tend to take our attention away from dealing with future problems. Our legislative process is messy, ineffective, and prone to political solutions instead of practical solutions based on knowledge. I believe the answer lies in finding cheap, clean energy; most likely from advances in fusion technology.
In the meantime we must use the energy that we have like natural gas, coal, and oil. We need these sources of energy as a transition to future sources of energy like fusion. We have the technology to continue to handle our currently available energy sources safely and responsibly.
Secret is only one of the definitions for occult. It also means having to do with magic and/or astrology or use of supernatural powers, etc. The Inquisition's goal was the strengthening of faith by eradicating practitioners of both magic and science. It's methods of torture and death were not in keeping with the Founder's values. Burning a witch at the stake is just as horrible as the torture of Galileo. Yet, there is no equivalency between the "practice of witches" and the "scientific method" that was ushered-in by Galileo himself.
That time period was a turning point for scientists, like da Vinci dabbling in Alchemy, because it refined the scientific method, as we know it today, which is based on verifiable, repeatable experiments. Modern day scandals, such as pedophilia among priests, do not diminish the veracity of Judeo-Christian values based on mono-theistic faith. These were the actions of mere humans who can't live up to the values they espouse.
In today's world it's important to distinguish between 'faith', 'magic' and 'science'. Teaching our children 'faith' and 'science' is constructive for them and society, but teaching them 'magic' is destructive to both, because 'magic' is a denial of reality. Unfortunately, there appears to be a rise in the practice of the occult in our society. For instance, a woman I know believes she is a white witch . . . and she's not a disturbed person. God help us when children run around believing they're Harry Potter.