One of the earliest references to time has been found in the scripts of ancient Mesopotamia. The evidence shows that around 3000 B.C. the people had a calendar and a week of seven days. A 24-hour day was divided into 12 parts or two of our hours as we record time now. Each of these parts was divided in to 30 parts or four minutes as we count time now. This knowledge was soon lost to tho world as the culture fell through war.
The story of times is not a record of continuous progress. For countless centuries, time and time keeping were the special domain of priests and royal people. A general knowledge of timekeeping among ordinary people hardly goes back 200 years. Such knowledge was unnecessary until the social organization of the world began to approach the tightly integrated society of today.
Eyes Out of Time
An interesting paradox is the fact that although we are so very time conscious concerning appointments, age, etc., we miss so many things that happen in our time; time meaning hour, day or year, either through indifference, ignorance, or inability to perceive certain aesthetic aspects of time.
Certain events happen much too fast for the human eye to comprehend. ‘When was the last time yon were able to fully appreciate, without the aid of a slow motion camera, the beauty and grace of an intricate dive off a 30-foot board, a humming-bird in flight, or the complex moves and reflexes of a hockey game? On the slow side is the blooming of a flower, growth of a tree, or the forming of a Grand Canyon.
The very descriptions we use for segments of time are abstract. According to Webster, a second is a very short period of time or an instant. An instant is a particular moment, and a moment is an indefinitely brief period of time or an instant.
Age itself is a study in the abstract concept of time. It is a fine way to let one know how long his body has been on this planet, but it hardly determines or explains the intellectual or philosophical advances of any one person, let alone his comparative physical condition on the “aging” scale.
With this in mind it is difficult to give credence to the various age barriers dictated by our culture. The 18-year-old line for certain social and responsible attitudes, the 21-year-old voting and drinking age, the over 30 demarcation between the “hip” and the “un-hip,” are all something less than strict disciplines when viewed as a standard in light of the diverse rates of development found among all the people in this country as well as the world.
Most of us are so regulated by this modern concept of time that we don’t necessarily eat when we’re hungry, rather when the clock gives us the signal. The same is true for the most part in our working and sleeping habits. Sad but true.
Even the time we have accepted is not infallible. A clock keeping perfect time today would have been 2.6 hours slow 2000 years ago; about 1750 it would have been correct; in 1850, 2 seconds slow; in 1900, 3.9 seconds fast; in 1940, 24.9 seconds slow; in 2000, 30 seconds slow. It appears now that the rotation of the earth is slowing down at a rate to produce a shortening of the mean solar day by about 0.001 second per century.
When thinking of age, sleep, eating, etc., although needed in our society, don’t waste too much time worrying about “time.” If you are 20 years old now, you would be over 80 years old if you lived on the planet Mercury, and less than 1 month old if you were a resident of the planet Pluto.
There is no time!