Monday, July 12, 2010

Phones and time from @glenc @itafroma @akiva

Perhaps you saw my Sunday post, which mused on the changes between the phone of 1950 and the phone of 2010. Based in part upon Glen Campbell's post "The iPhone is not a phone,", I wondered conversely if the iPhone WAS a phone and all those old things that were stuck to walls were not phones.

Campbell himself offered a comment:

It's useful to look at it from either direction, isn't it? The larger problem is that language doesn't keep up with technology. A "book" that I read on my iPhone's Kindle App is exceedingly remote from that which first rolled off Gutenberg's press, though they have, at least metaphorically, much in common. No one likes to use the term "personal digital assistant" any more, though that's perhaps the closest term we have for it.

So I guess that Campbell and I can both agree that definitions of items can change over time.

But then Mark Trapp shared an item from the Daily Galaxy that cast even that assumption in doubt. The Daily Galaxy article was entitled Is Time Disappearing from the Universe?

Here's an excerpt:

Scientists previously have measured the light from distant exploding stars to show that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. They assumed that these supernovae are spreading apart faster as the universe ages. Physicists also assumed that a kind of anti-gravitational force must be driving the galaxies apart, and started to call this unidentified force "dark energy".

However, Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain have proposed an alternate thesis:

They propose that there is no such thing as dark energy at all, and we’re looking at things backwards. Senovilla proposes that we have been fooled into thinking the expansion of the universe is accelerating, when in reality, time itself is slowing down. At an everyday level, the change would not be perceptible. However, it would be obvious from cosmic scale measurements tracking the course of the universe over billions of years. The change would be infinitesimally slow from a human perspective....

The team's proposal, published in the journal Physical Review D, dismisses dark energy as fiction. Instead, Senovilla says, the appearance of acceleration is caused by time itself gradually slowing down, like a clock with a run-down battery.

So, in essence, the idea that things will continue to change over time is itself in doubt.

However, for this change is pretty long, so I'm not really worried about it just yet. In fact, I was reminded of a conversation that I had decades ago with Bob Hunt on a similar topic. We were discussing some scientific theory about the end of the universe. When Bob realized that the scientists thought that the end of the universe would occur in billions of years, rather than millions of years, he said, "Whew!"

I should also note that Akiva Moskovitz also contributed to the FriendFeed discussion on Mark Trapp's share. Akiva supplemented the theory from the Spanish universities with a comment from the famed Dr. Steve Miller (and subsequently cited by Dr. Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel:

Time keeps on slippin'...
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