Posted by Richard N Williams on July 2nd, 2009
From wristwatches to atomic clocks and NTP time servers, the understanding of time has become crucial for many modern technologies such as satellite navigation and global communications.
From time dilation to the effects of gravity on time, time has many weird and wonderful facets that scientists are only beginning to understand and utilise. Here are some interesting, weird and unusual facts about time:
• Time is not separate from space, time makes up what Einstein called four dimensional space time. Space time can be warped by gravity meaning that time slows down the greater the gravitational influence. Thanks to atomic clocks, time on earth can be measured at each subsequent inch above the earth’s surface. That means that every bodies feet are younger than their head as time runs slower the lower to the ground you get.
• Time is also affected by speed. The only constant in the universe is the speed of light (in a vacuum) which is always the same. Because of Einstein’s famous theories of relativity anybody travelling at close to the speed of light a journey to an observer that would have taken thousands of years would have passed within seconds. This is called time dilation.
• There is nothing in contemporary physics that prohibits time travel both forward and backwards in time.
• There are 86400 seconds in a day, 600,000 in a week, more than 2.6 million in a month and more than 31 million in a year. If you live to be 70 years old then you will have lived through over 5.5 billion seconds.
• A nanosecond is a billionth of a second or roughly the time it takes for light to travel about 1 foot (30 cm).
• A day is never 24 hours long. The earth’s rotation is speeding up gradually which means the global timescale UTC (coordinated universal time) has to have leap seconds added once or twice a year. These leap seconds are automatically accounted for in any clock synchronization that uses NTP (Network Time Protocol) such as a dedicated NTP time server.