An Amuse-Bouche of Time


A bunch of quotes does not an essay make, this I know.

But when presented like this I do think it’s a decent primer for the essay that I am currently writing, “Shaping Your Time” — and you’ll get to read that one soon. Though my goal with that essay – as always – is to keep it mathy, there’s stuff from experts in such a wide range of disciplines about the concept of time that I wanted you to have this intro to it all, first. Yes, via a bunch of quotes.

This might end up being an influence on the way you can shape your time or it may just get you to notice how time actually exists for you – and how that might be different than how it exists for others.

Chew on this. Savor where it hits your palette. Though I realize an amuse-bouche is typically just one bite, I’m gonna play this like they do on those cooking shows and proclaim that I must have gotten carried away. Bon Appétit!

“Our body keeps time a great deal better than our brain.
Hair and nails grow at a predictable rate. An intake of breath is never wasted;
appetite hardly ever comes late or early…
We wear the tally of our years on our brow and cheeks.
I doubt our body could ever lose its count.”
Michele Wucker, author and policy analyst

“Time is the product of our actions.”
Daniel Tammet,
writer and savant

“Speed can only occur over a time interval, not in a single instant.” Steven Strogatz

“Time flows on, never comes back.”
Léon Brillouin,

“Seeking other kinds of prosperity, we burn through
our most valuable resource: time.
Even though we’ll never have more of it than we do now.”
Leidy Klotz, scientist and writer

“Lived time is different
from clock time”
James Gleick,
author and historian of science

“Time Is When”
the title of a children’s book
by Beth Gleick, author
<— mother of that guy

“We measure times as they are passing,
by perceiving them;
but past, which now are not,
or the future, which are not yet,
who can measure?”
5th century theologian and philosopher

“Our perception of time’s passage depends upon the amount of new perceptual information we are subjected to
from our environment.”
Kit Yates, mathematician

“Time is an elusive concept. It’s passing constantly, yet it’s so hard to feel. It’s like lying in the grass, trying to feel the Earth rotate.
When changes are both small and constant,
we can’t grasp them.”
Sasha Sagan,
filmmaker and writer

“Time is a powerful force,
and one that perpetually revises our values, personalities, our preferences
in everything from music and the places we would like to go to friendship.”
Daniel Gilbert, social psychologist and writer

 “..the arrow of time…shorthand for a complex fact that everyone knows: time has direction.”
Arthur Eddington, astrophysicist

“Time does not pass in the same way everywhere in the world. In some places it flows more quickly, in others more slowly. The closer you get to Earth,
where gravity is more intense,
the slower time passes.”
Carlo Rovelli, theoretical physicist

Thanks math, you’re the best.


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  • I once asked a physicist on the faculty at MIT “Does time exist?”. The answer was “We don’t know now, but it makes the math easier.” Reminded me of imaginary numbers.

    • Ooh, I always forget about imaginary numbers. And _that_ sentence sounds like I’m making a joke, but really, I keep meaning to write something about them. 🧐😅

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