Saturday, December 31, 2005

Disconnected Time

Disconnected time

Published in 1908 a book that was translated from German continues to be a relevant and updated discourse on the ethical questions of today. Friedrich Paulsen’s “A System of Ethics” (Scribner’s Sons Pub.) was written for the general public in a plain and direct language that enlightens and analyzes topics that were of paramount importance then and still are now. As I am reading these ideas that were thought and expressed more than one hundred years ago I become aware of the transcendence of these basic virtues and values.
Today as one start a new year (for posterity: one is talking about 2006) the same old questions are asked. But for the old question there is a new perspective. One that is not really new, but for a personal renovation can be stated as a new point of view. As when one thinks about a new year in the sense of renovation, knowing that the cycle is part of a continuum, that psychologically there is a renewal as after the hibernation of winter comes the awakening of spring.
So as we wish to all a “Prosperous and Happy New Year”, the wishes are for this next year as for all the next years. Disconnected time is being connected.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Space Time

Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time. Michio Kaku. 251 pp. Atlas Books. ISBN 0-393-05165-X O.F. Linn Library QC 173.59 S65 K356 2004.

Prof. Michio Kaku from City University of New York has written a wonderful account of Albert Einstein’s struggle to find the unified theory of the universe. This account goes far beyond the traditional biographies that of this great scientist have been written. For almost two hundred and fifty pages Prof. Kaku gives us an idea of the times, friends and colleagues of Albert Einstein and the way in which his thought were developed and shaped by his personal relationships. All of this is done within a profound understanding of the physics involved so this is not only a historical description of the life of a great mind, but it also enlightens one with the intricacies of the theoretical concepts in modern physics and the relationship of these concepts with natural philosophy and ultimately to our final sense of reality.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Is it to late?

Thinking about how long has it been since ...? I remembered that discussion that I had with many people at the turn of the millennium. Many used to argue that the year 2000 was not the beginning of the "new" millennium as they argued that the year 2001 should be the first. It was so difficult to explain why the year 2000 was the beginning as the counter argument was that there is no year zero at the beginning of counting. We know that zero is a number but how can we explain that this number counts as a place in the sequence of event if zero is understood as a non-event.
I don't know if it is too late to argue about our counting (measuring) of time but one thing I know: it is the semantic knowledge through our language (or the lack of it) that leads us to the understanding(or to problems) of dating. Here is an easy way out: If I have been teaching (i.e. I am still doing it) since a particular date, I can count how many years have passed (X) and I can say that I am in my Yth year. Where Y = X + 1. In this sense the year 2000 is in fact the 2001st year as 2000 years have passed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A long time

Not the time that it has taken for me to write, as it has been a long time. But nothing compared with "cosmic" time which is what this is all about.
It is difficult to appreciate the full scope of time when one is limited to a short time experience. As our definition of time and the units that we use for its measurement are so anthropocentric it is almost impossible to make any lucubration about universal time. As Einstein proposed his basic assumptions about the universe he made one powerful move: there is unity of the universe. By stating two fundamental principles, one philosophic and one physical, the theory of relativity is able to conform the cosmos to a “continuum” where a vacuum filled with “fields” manifest itself as matter or energy depending on the configuration of the geometry of that space. It may be that because of this Einstein expressed his opinion that geometry was a “physical” science. The philosophical principle is that the laws of physics are the same for any observer. So if two observers were moving relative to each other and they observed the same phenomenon they should get to the same law as the explanation of said phenomenon. On the one hand the constancy of the speed of light in vacuum as electromagnetic radiation being the physical principle allows the connection between those observers that are moving relative to each other. Can we use the same bridge –the constancy of the speed of light – to connect our time to “cosmic” time? With string theory the effort is to connect our time to the atto –femto scale by means of quantum field theory. As far as I know this has been attempted through gravitational field theory (quantum and relativistic) but the assumption has been that if the time involved in the phenomenon is grater than that of Planck’s time (1.38 E-43 sec.) time will be considered continuous that is as an analog function where its flow is directed by the second law of thermodynamics

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Andy Warhol's time

Andy Warhol writes in his 1975 book "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again.)"> ISBN:0-15-189050-1

About Time

From time to time
Do time
Time yourself


In time
In no time

In good time
Between time
Time and again

Pass time
Mark time
Buy time
Keep time

On time
In time
Time off
Time out
Time in
Time card
Time lapse
Time zone

The beforetime
The meantime
The aftertime
The All-time-

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Time for cosmic talk

“Blowing Bubbles in the Cosmos: Astronomical Winds, Jets, and Explosions” gives a wonderful insight into the evolution of our universe. The book written by T.W. Hartquist, J.E Dyson, and D.P. Ruffle and published by Oxford University Press in 2004 provides a full view of all sorts of phenomena observed by astrophysicists. Starting of course with a comprehensive account of the discovery of astronomical winds, and going through the quantification of their magnitude as is connected to star formation and stellar evolution. The authors look at differences in regional activity as well as the possibility for connecting supernovae and their remnants. They look at active galaxies, their nuclei, and their galactic winds. Finally the authors provide us with a comprehensive mathematical appendix and a very useful glossary.
ISBN: 0-19-513054-5. O.F.Linn library QB529.H37 2004
One reason that cosmological studies are so important can be seen in this blog's question( " Is hi-tech timeless? one can see that it is!
Loyal starts a comment with: "In technology...More is law. More speed, more storage, more graphics, and so on." But will this law—more of an assumption, really—be true tomorrow, and is it true today?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Time for Academic Reform

The following is from Slate magazine : "Stanley N. Katz provides an overview of the liberal arts debate here.
What should students be studying in college? No one seems to agree anymore. Harvard University is in the midst of a heated debate about its general education requirements, while the Association of American Colleges and Universities has launched a campaign to promote "a liberal education." Slate has taken the occasion to ask an array of prominent academics to tackle the question at the heart of the debate: What should undergraduates leave college knowing?"
This is such an important and ongoing question that needs all of us in higher education to get involved. Two points I would like to make: Blogs are becoming a wonderful tool for the discussion, and the discussion is now open to a wider audience.
Cross references and recycling electrons is fairly efficient, so let's do it!

Monday, November 07, 2005

When time goes by ...

... it is difficult to keep track of things. One thing leads to another and by the time you realize that time has gone it is too late. More so when you are busy and in some ways productive. It is the time of the year when we transition to deeper thoughts, as winter is settling. Last week I had the opportunity of meeting with some friends of the Science Integration Institute where I presented the topic "Reality, Reason, and Imagination" we had a great time. We talked about the idea of eather and how this idea as it was abandoned helped Einstein use the Lorentz-Fitsgerald translations to sustain his relativity principles.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Time in The Physical World

One’s senses connect us to the world in many ways and through many steps. One’s mind interprets one’s perceptions obtained through one’s senses. One’s mind is made of a brain and the interconnections that neurons make that give reality to the idea.
So is it the world real? Or is it an idea? (Old question that we'll not answer here!)

Along human history there have been many discoveries of “natural” laws and phenomena that occurred by serendipity, or mistake! Some discoveries were due to unsuccessful attempts to demonstrate some unsustainable theory such as the existence of aether. This aether had been proposed to explain the transmission of light and its high speed through the universe. The experiment performed by Michelson and Morley as it failed opened the door to a new way of thinking; where the idea of “vacuum” became accepted, and as others -like Lorentz try to “fix” the problem- were very imaginative with their proposals.

Lorentz proposal of a contracting space even though wrongly stated to fix the Michelson-Morley experiment gave support later on to Einstein for his proposal of “time” relativity where time itself would shrink or dilate if the observer was moving relative to the frame of reference. Lorentz contraction –or relative expansion of the other system- is now used with no hesitation as one calculates the interaction of orbiting communication satellites that use electromagnetic signals that have to follow Einstein’s relativity theory.
Time after all is relative, so I’m going to stop here

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Reality Time

Time for some real time.
Does it mean that time doesn't exist because we aren't able to explain what time is?
Reality, Reason, and Imagination are linked through the search of truth. How can one undestand reality? Natural laws have to be universal thus objective and they have to be discovered through one's reason. It is important to realize that human reason is over all dependable even though in some cases it looks like it is not!
Common sense is commonly wrong! So one has to be careful in equating common sense to human reasoning.
All this is to establish a framework for our understanding of time or lack of it.
Yesterday Oct. 1st during the Linus Pauling Award symposium George M. Whitesides (the recipiant of the prize) lectured on some of the concepts about matter that we are in the very beggining of understanding. One of this concepts is the relationship between enthalpy and entropy, as in chemistry one normally relate them in the sense that one is at the expense of the other! This concept makes one think that one really do not know what enthalpy or entropy are about.
So if enthalpy and entropy do exist even though on doesn't know what they are, maibe time also exists even though one doesn't know waht it is!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Time for Physical Thoughts

Why is it important to study the physical concept of force in its relation with the economy of a society? Two things come to one’s mind: Time and energy.
Timing is everything in economic terms as well as in social terms, as they are intrinsically dependent. When we one look at the linking between social developments and economic ones the “energy” bridge is used to understand it. How is this link defined and affected by our definition of “energy”, and how are time and energy related is a profound philosophical question that few have tried to address. We’ll try in my book (Treatise on Physical Economy) to address this question and to propose some ideas regarding the physical nature of social development and behavior. Some of these ideas have been around for a long time, some since the XVIII century and I hope some will be brand-new as they are proposed in the light of current events.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time for Gravity

I'll like to recomend reading the book by Bernard Schutz, 2003, "Gravity from the Ground Up: An Introductory Guide to Gravity and General Relativity", Cambridge U. Press, 462 pp. ISBN: 0 521 45506 5. O.F.Linn QC178.S36 2003.
As the title indicates this is a good introductory book to a very important subject in modern science. Bernard Schutz using a clear and direct language allows readers that are not specialists understand and most importantly enjoy the discussion of basic scientific ideas. The understanding of “Gravity” as it is related to the functioning of the universe is of paramount importance for the understanding of all natural phenomena. Schutz gives examples from astronomy to show how the universe can be used as a laboratory and how measuring distances and masses, and calculating their ratios, is used to infer laws and deduce the existence of black holes. Other astronomical objects and phenomena, such as neutron stars and cosmic rays, are mentioned as indicators of the kind of knowledge we can gather for the understanding of how the universe functions. Some one who is interested in understanding the principles of the time-space relationship and the correlation of mass and energy should read this book.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Timely Read

When Gödel was asked by Judge Philip Forman –as I read Palle Yourgrau’s book “A World Without Time” -if a dictatorship such as the one that flourished in Germany could arise in the US? Gödel spiritedly reply with an affirmative. The reason being that according to his “incompleteness theory” in mathematics it will apply to law in the sense that any legal code couldn’t –even if intended to be fully explicit and complete- cover the whole set of situations that could eventually arise.
Today we face a situation if we try to reconstruct the constitution by looking at the letter of the law and forget to look for the spirit of the law.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

24 days

Twenty Four Days [OFL libraryHD9502.U54 E57927 2003] by Rebecca Smith and John R. Emshwiller 2003 ISBN: 0-06-052073-6.
From the inside cover: “This is the story of two Wall Street Journal beat reporters –one covering the energy industry just after the chaotic California electricity crisis; the other chasing stock swindlers. Together these journalists were ideally placed to uncover one of the great cons of the century.” If you’ll like to have a profound insight of what happened with the Enron story, how economic power goes hand in hand with political power, and how modern technology can be used to create artificially immense wealth, this is a book you’ll like to read.
It is interesting to see how time plays such an important role, timing of the con with the political atmosphere of deregulation.

Time for A Healthy Earth

Another excellent book that environmentalists have to read is "Environmental Health" (3dr Ed) Edited by Monroe T. Morgan (2003)[ISBN: 0-534-51717-X; OFL library RA566.M67 2003] where a good collection of contributors present a solid, consistent, and thorough analysis of the state of health of the world. From the definition of the health paradigm to the exposition of issues related to transportation, building and development as they relate to the transmittal of diseases. Current topics such as those related to the production of electricity from nuclear energy, and the protection and safety of food. Ending with an excellent account of the principles of environmental health administration written by Larry Gordon of the University of New Mexico. In this last chapter a well rounded account of the organizational diversity involved in health administration, looking at the national, regional, and local level.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Time for Environmental Managment

In a clear and concise way different authors in the book "Managing Environmental Policy: A casebook" present cases that are relevant to the present discussion on environmental issues. The book is edited by R.P.Watson, D.C. Kiegel, and S. F. Robar. And published by Krieger in 2004. (ISBN: 1-57524-233-8. O. F. L. library: GE310.M36 2004.)
Several cases in particular relate directly with Northwestern US. From “Salmon and People” presented by Mary Brentwood (Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at California State University, Sacramento) to “Wolf Politics” by Martin Nie (Assistant Professor of Natural Resources Policy at the University of Montana.)
The format of the book is inviting and induces a discussion where both sides of the issue are recognized. Based on actual cases gives the reader a broad idea of environmental issues facing our world, as well as a perspective of the situation that comprises all sides.
Even though the cases presented are based in the USA and mention real institutions and organizations the book has not a provincial view, it can be used and read to gain a general, universal perspective.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Times don't change

What is going on with the energy crisis? We are talking about gasoline price in the US above $2 per gallon - and rising. Have a look at this book: The Energy Crisis: World struggle for power and wealth. Michael Tanzer (1974) ISBN:0-85345-346-2; O. F. L. Library: HD9502.A2 T35 1974
According to Michael Tanzer: There is no energy shortage. The problem lies on the power struggle between energy companies and their host countries.
With very few exemptions this book written in 1974 is actual. Up to that date facts represent in general what is still going on. So the content becomes so relevant to today's situation where as crazy as it sounds, nothing has change in more that 30 years!
On the other hand and looking into the paradoxical nature of our use of energy, we might expect that unnoticed changes have occurred, and these will suddenly -without any warning- bring havoc in our society. Hopefully this havoc will give way to a positive chaotic transition out of which a more equilibrated and just society will emerge.
This is a short read -about 170 pages, and highly recommended.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Preacher

It seems to me that Ecclesiastes 3 is becoming my favorite chapter. It start with: (King James) "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;2 A time to be born, and a time to die;..."
And, as I truly like questions- finishes with the following: "22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion; for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? "
Accepting that there is a time for each thing and each thing has to be at its own time is for me so fundamental and basically the only way to achieve happiness. Having work as a means for excellence and being is a truism. Finally who knows what is after him/her? But one thing we know: we are another link of humanity. The link that comes after history and before the future thus "we are the present." Whoever we are it doesn't matter.
We are the present. Even after we die, whenever someone read this, it will be.
"2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; ... "

Is it "time" for a change?

Many thoughts come to my mind. Some have to do with politics, some have to do with international relationships -mainly US-Mexico, some have to do with little things in life that are so unimportant that they are profound!
So how can I change what I am doing here? Is it time to change? So I figured it out! Maybe if we have another blog. That way we will not deviate from the main topic-time that we are supposed to deal with here. We can also post in another language - say Spanish. So once in a while check my other blogs, you can find the by going to "view my complete profile" and clicking on the other blogs at the end of the profile.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Time to rest, time to move on

Thinking about what time does to your thinking. Taking the time to mature a thought is as letting a rain drop flow into a river, if the thought is profound the river will go to the ocean. C.S. Lewis book on "Miracles" tries to declare a framework where t is necessary to establish the right filosophy in order to talk about miracles. The question is: can we prove the occurence of a miracle? Can we do it within a historical context?
Lewis' claim is that if you don't believe in miracles -that would be your philosophical framework- then it can't be proven that miracles exist. One must then be in the right frame of mind what ever that means!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Book Review

Mathematician Roger Penrose’s book “ The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe” (2004) ISBN 0-679-45443-8; OFL Library location: QC20.P366 2005 is a blast! There is so much to say about this magnificent encyclopedic account of the history and philosophy behind the most important discoveries of humankind. So much that I will not try.

To get a taste of the one-thousand-page book you have to only look at the content.

1. The Roots of Science
2. An Ancient Theorem and a Modern Question
3. Kinds of Numbers in the Physical World
4. Magical Complex Numbers
5. Geometry of Logarithms, Powers, and Roots
6. Real-Number Calculus
7. Complex-Number Calculus
8. Riemann Surfaces and Complex Mappings
9. Fourier Decomposition and Hyperfunctions
10. Surfaces
11. Hypercomplex Numbers
12. Manifolds of n-Dimensions
13. Symmetry Groups
14. Calculus on Manifolds
15. Fibre Bundles and Gauge Connections
16. The Ladder of Infinity
17. Spacetime
18. Minkoiskian Geometry
19. The Classical Fields of Maxwell and Einstein
20. Lagragians and Hamiltonians
21. The Quantum Particle
22. Quantum Algebra, Geometry, and Spin
23. The Entangled Quantum World
24. Dirac’s Electron and Antiparticles
25. The Standard Model of Particle Physics
26. Quantum Field Theory
27. The Big Bang and its Thermodynamic Legacy
28. Speculative Theories of the Early Universe
29. The Measurement Paradox
30. Gravity’s Role in Quantum State Reduction
31. Super-symmetry, Supra-Dimensionality, and Strings
32. Einstein’s Narrower-path; Loop Variables
33. More Radical Perspectives; Twistor Theory
And finally
34. Where Lies the Road to Reality.

If you are interested in paradox, language, ontology or semantics this is the book for you! It looks like it is only about mathematics but it is not. Written for the general public, it doesn’t require you to be proficient in math even though formulas are used in order to clarify the semantic connection of reality with concept. In fact I recommend this reading to those who have had bad experiences with math. Penrose is one of the clearest minds alive today and his writings in Mathematical Physics directed to specialists, as well as his writings directed to the general public have become classics.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

No Time at All

As I try to write at least once a day. It shows that I have not been successful, It is more like once a month. Time is scarce. No writing but a lot of reading! One book: Yourgrau's "A World Without Time" is an account of the friendship between Godel and Einstein comes to my point about not having time as Godel's hypothesis is that "time doesn't exist."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Critical Mass-Critical Time

Reading Philip Ball's "Critical Mass" book one gets a deep understanding of how things are related. As the subtitle of the book implies -how one thing leads to another. We have used mathematical approaches to establish a language (framework) to relate cause and effect as well as, in many acceding, the path in which the process is carried out.
For a statistical analysis to be strong and confiable is it necessary to have a good set of information, data in sufficient quantity that allows us to see the pattern that describes the system in question. This sufficiency in the amount of information is what we call "critical mass" a term borrowed from nuclear physicist that define the critical mass of a nuclear reaction in terms of the density of radionuclides involved in the reaction. All in nature including of course human behaviour requieres a critical point from which reference is made. A city or town doesn't becomes a city or town until that critical mass is acquiered

Monday, March 14, 2005

Entropy of life

As the second law of thermodynamics states the universe is evolving in the direction of increased randomness. How fast is this happening? It seems to be a paradox as we find organized systems that are constituting themselves amidst this tendency for disorganized. R. Collins in his book Random Designer (2004) talks about how God is not concerned with this paradox and in fact mentions that "the Second Law is simply a necessary part of His magnificent plan."
One can see a deeper purpose in this law. Lets think of different mechanisms, some will increase the order of the system (as the total entropy of the universe increase) and others will decrease the order of the system. For example nutrition versus aging. The competition of mechanisms depends on the relationships of the energies involved with the rates at which the change is occurring. It is all about rates! So time is a basic, fundamental frame of reference.
In the realm of religion:
Our Lord Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago and we are still struggling with his teachings. Christianity has some basic principles that I see are related to the second law of thermodynamics. Love thy enemy! Is this proposition breaking some kind of order that states that we and they are different? Thus belonging to separate organized groups? If we are to love our enemies, we are not different from them under His eyes.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

As Time Goes By, Space Warps

Looking at a candle burn, feeling that time is there without a change! Nothing is new under the sun while everything appears to be moving.
My own concern, my own life.
As I'm cooling down it seems to me that I'm slowing down. Temperature is the scalar measure of the heat (energy) level so as our energy level drops we slow down. Can we think of this energy level in terms of energy density and if so isn't it that energy and mass (the curvature of space according to Einstein) are related? So how are space -with its curvature- and time related? Gravity has been explained based on a warping of time/space. Where is energy in this picture?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Time is slowing down

It is Friday afternoon. After a hectic morning where rush seemed to make time go fast it is now a beautiful afternoon where time is slowing down.
Time for reflection.
In Spanish people ask about time when thinking about the weather, how are weather and time related?
Como está el tiempo? is: How is the weather?
Could it be that time goes faster when the weather isn't nice? Is it going to the beach and enjoying yourself an energizing experience because time is going so slow? Has this energizing effect anything to do with the energy used in the passage of time?
The only way we have to see the passage of time is when changes in energy occur. Changes could be from one kind of energy to another or changes in the level of the same kind i.e. quantitative or qualitative.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Changing times and pedagogy.

Frames of reference (theoretical or otherwise) allow us to communicate. As a concept "time" has been used as a frame of reference more than a relational reference. What do I mean with this statement? It seems to me that the presumption that the passing of time is constant within a spatial reference frame allows the calendaring of events, where their relative position is scaled to a particular unit of time. In this way we can say that some dinosaurs lived, for example: 100 years; and that they lived sixty million years ago. It seems to make sense. But, is it so?
Within the framework of education we have assumed that one hour of class is one hour of teaching equivalent to one hour of learning. The hour of class makes the hour of teaching synchronous with the hour of learning.
Here is where I have some uneasiness. My feelings are that teaching and learning aren't happening at the same "time"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A matter of fact is a matter of time

Time is factual as it is changing, as the only permanent concept is the concept of change. How can permanence and change be related? It is a paradox that can be illustrated by “rhythm” where the regularity of the beat is framed with/within the flow/movement of the music. Of course there are some who say that time doesn't exist.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Synchronous v Asynchronous

One issue that has been in the minds of people is the connection of past, present and future with the concept of eternity. Is eternity the sum of past-present-future? or is it the extencion of the present? Since the development of relativity we know that there is no "absolute" time so how can we relate different times? Is this relationship synchronous or not? I'll be thinking more about this.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Presenting myself

Welcome to my blog! This is my first, so please be patient with me. The purpose of this diary is to share some of the thoughts that I'm having (or have had) related to the nature of time and to try to compile links to other sites interested in the discussion of time. As it applies to issues of pedagogy, natural sciences, or religion. My email address is please don't hesitate to write to me. Also I invite you to visit my web site at where you can read about other aspects of my life. (Portland, OR/January, 2005)