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Day: February 6, 2017

“Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation” by Alan Burdick

Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation” by Alan Burdick

c.2017, Simon & Schuster
$28.00 / $37.00 Canada
301 pages


Your last vacation was really fun.

Those seven days felt like ten minutes. And then you were back to work, where ten minutes can seem like seven days. Why is that?  How come enjoyable things whiz by fast and why do you wake up seconds before the alarm goes off?  Read “Why Time Flies” by Alan Burdick, and just watch…

What time is it?  Chances are, you ask that question many times a day, even sometimes when you already know the answer. But how do you know the time without looking at a clock?  How does time speed and slow?  Better yet, how do tasks seem to exactly fit the allotted time you’ve got to finish them?

To find out, Burdick started at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, near Paris . That’s the place where time is set, “uniform and equivalent across national borders,” and where the most exact time in the world is kept – a time that’s so accurate that it’s not set until next month.

Time, you see, is a conundrum.

It started – and remained through most of history – as an Earth-based thing, though early humans didn’t have the same sense of “time” that we have now, “now” being a slippery thing in itself. Ancient timekeeping used a sundial to indicate morning or afternoon; we generally use computerized systems run by exquisitely accurate clocks that “register 13 billion pings from computers around the world” each day.

Even so, there is no such thing as a completely accurate clock, just as there is no such thing as accurate time. Time is set because we implicitly agree on it, although some countries are off by 30 or 45 minutes from the rest of us, not counting time zones, which were first encouraged in the U.S. by railroad companies.

Also because we agree that we can, we bend and twist time. Shift workers push their circadian rhythms to the limits. Speeding jets can, in an Einsteinian way, slow time (by nanoseconds, but still). Time seems fleeter when you’re older for a good reason, and yes, time flies, but mostly when you’re not really looking.

Here it is, February, and it feels like Christmas was both yesterday and a million miles ago. That’s all in your head, says author Alan Burdick, and in “Why Time Flies,” he explains.

We can’t touch time, but we know what it is. It’s sometimes hard to define it, however, but Burdick’s research helps as he takes readers around the world, to the top of the Earth, and below-ground in a search that speeds through deep science so quickly that grasping some ideas can be a challenge. Fortunately, that’s balanced by eye-popping tales of experiments gone wild, lovelorn scientists, work-time, and Burdick’s personal stories of how infants learn concepts of time and its passage.

That makes this science-y book readable as well as enjoyable, so job-holders, parents, the science-minded, or anyone who says “Look at the time!” should look at this book. Read “Why Time Flies” and you’ll be having fun.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin

Wolverines take on Kindness Challenge

Of the Keizertimes

Whiteaker Middle was one of over eight thousand schools worldwide to participate in the Great Kindness Challenge last year.

This year, Feb. 6-10, Whiteaker counselor Pat Curran would like to see that kindness spread throughout Keizer as Mayor Cathy Clark will declare it Great Kindness Challenge Week at the Monday, Feb. 6 city council meeting.

“We’re trying to get the businesses on River Road that have a reader board to put something up about the Great Kindness Challenge, just to get more people involved because what we’d eventually like this to be is a city-wide thing during that week,” Curran said.

During the week, students will get a checklist of 50 different acts of kindness, like “Smile at 25 people” and “Offer to help your custodian.” At the end of the week, prizes will be given to the kindest classes.

Whiteaker is also raising money for Assistance League of Salem, which provides school supplies and clothes to students in need. During lunch each day, students will participate in a different kindness activity, like signing a poster for the feeder elementary schools and making thank you cards for staff members. Each day will also have a theme where students are invited to dress up. Monday is super hero day. Thursday is crazy hair day.

Whiteaker started doing the Great Kindness Challenge three years ago.

“There’s a lot of anti-bullying campaigns that are out there. We do anti-bullying curriculum in our classrooms, which is great, but this is kind of flipping it on its head,” Curran said. “We’re trying to get kids to do positive things as opposed to just don’t do negative things. We’re basically just trying to encourage kids to do kind things here at school but also in the community. It’s a pretty simple idea but it’s a neat thing we’d like to catch on.”