Re: Before Now

Eugene Leitl (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 23:21:42 +0100 (MET)

On Tue, 21 Jan 1997, Dan Fabulich wrote:

> Eugene Leitl wrote:
> > I agree that we need a new calendar. However, for purely technical
> > reasons. I'd like to be able to specify an event in spacetime,
> > anywhen, anywhere, with the highest prossible precision, period.
> Relativity gets our way, unfortunately. Perhaps you've heard of the


> famous experiment where two atomic clocks are perfectly synchronized,
> then you take one of them in a jet and fly a good distance at
> some mach coefficient, only to land and find that the two clocks are
> minutes off?

Uh... that must be one hell of a fast jet. The velocity is less
important (unless you use photonic jets). The height is. A high building
(100 m?) is sufficent already. Hvor mange ar klokka? Matterenergy imposes
curvature on spacetime. Vatch de Keplerelementen to obtejn se curvattsher.
If you can _feel_ the gradient tugging, you're in trouble. (Ready, are you
ready, for roasted spaghetti?)

> To make this work to the accuracy you'd like, we'd have to pick an
> official central reference point, universally declared to be the
> location and time by which to compare all other reference frames moving
> at whatever speed in relation to our magic focus.

What's wrong with that? A point is a point is a point. Quoth Archimedes.
Give me a reference point, and I'll synch all clocks globally.

> And where would you have this spot? The earth's spinning around the

No matter where. The one spot requiring less coordinate tranformations
(over gadget population). Currently, we are geocentric. In a few decades, we
better turn heliocentric. In a few hundred years? Use the galactic core,
pulsars for anchor points. And then? Ask me a few MYrs later. Provided,
we don't turn spacetime designer aesthetes first.

> sun, the sun is whirling off into space; and I don't even want to
> THINK about what space is doing. ;)

The space per se does nothing. No matter, no timespace. No timespace? Doesn't

> All of this is pretty insignificant when you talk about our day to day
> lives. The gross approximations we use for time zones are perfectly

Life's not a constant. What's true today ain't necessarily true tomorrow.
Why did the HAM buy the GPS receiver? He synched her, and she cropp'd.

> acceptable for keeping schedules and business meetings in New York while
> video-conferencing in Los Angeles, but when you're talking about the
> precision of atomic clocks, it starts to matter.

The clock is just a tool. A demand was there, so they were invented. For
some tasks a kitchen timer will do. For some, it won't.

> Really, I don't see a purpose for a new calendar or timing system. I
> mean, sure, you can call the measuring system outdated, but you're
> really not making much of a statement by trying to switch units, IMHO.

That's not logical, Jim. What do you use now? Your quartz oscillator. I
use my quartz clock, periodically resynched via the atomic clock in
Mainflingen. Does it compensate for signal propagation delay? Nope. Does it
compensate for spacetime curvature? Nope. (GPS does) So if I need ultimative
precision, I use my Garmin 25 XL OEM board (better use Sirf's
board/chipset now), which gives me atomic clock precision (well, almost.
A +- 1us output), for a pocket money equivalent. Thinks about your future
appetites. You'll need that precision, and more. Unique object time stamps.
Distribution of the global clock. You spouse's birthday. Whatever.

> -He who laughs last thinks slowest-
> dAN


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