Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Absolute Elsewhere

We have precisely 8.28 minutes in this Minkowski space but that's not going to include anything that happened yesterday or tomorrow. 8.28 minutes stands on its lonely own.

"Did you hear that?"

"No," he says. He is sitting on the floor looking at me. We are holding hands. He is smiling.

"Huh. I could have sworn I heard something. Oh wait. I didn't hear anything. Sorry to bother you."

He does not reply. He's already left the room and walks in as tomorrow morning is dawning cold and hard.

"Breakfast?" He is carrying pancakes, blue berries, and raspberries. I smile at him, grateful. I'm famished. I take a pancake and a berry, nibbling gently.

"Have we met before?" he asked. He was so splendid. I can hear the faint sound of a telephone ringing somewhere.

"Wait until tomorrow and I'll tell you," I say but it's too late because last night is upon us again.

"You know, I did hear something just now," he says, "What did you hear?" He cocks his head to one side.

"I haven't heard a thing. Are you trying to confuse me?"

"No, just trying to tell you I heard it, whatever 'it' is." He adjusts his glasses. He is eating a raspberry.

"Are you sure you heard something?" I asked. I'm wondering where he got the raspberry. We are sitting quietly now. I seem to have acquired blueberries from somewhere. I pop one into my mouth.

"We have two and a half minutes left," he says.


The sun goes down again and the moon comes up. Crickets whistle in the dark and it's warm and soft outside. I can smell gardenias.

"Can you?" I ask him.

"Oh yes," he says, "they smell beautiful. White with thick petals. Thick shiny dark green leaves."

Now we have 30 seconds left and I wonder where we're going to end up. It was such a short time but better than nothing. Time seems like a giant wave moving along at top speed at least that's how I envision it when I have to let go of someone.

I smile, "You have a good memory. Do you think you'll remember me?"

He rakes his hair with his hand. He smiles. I sit down in front of him.

"Take my hand?" We held hands, looked at each other, and waited.

"Absolute elsewhere" is a term in special relativity for events that do not occur in the absolute past, present or absolute future. An event is an occurrence that can be measured in space and in time. It takes 8.28 minutes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth. If there was a station on the Sun and it sent a message to Earth, there would be an 8.28 minute delay before Earth would receive the message. Physicists refer to this time delay as absolute elsewhere. Technically speaking anything that happens during these 8.28 light minutes is not an event because it cannot be observed and, therefore, cannot affect anything.

At least I think that's right. Feel free to contact me to correct this explanation. I set my timer to 8.28 minutes and wrote the above post. I took another couple of minutes to put the finishing touches on it.

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