Unless you hold some sort of remarkable disinterest in the natural world, or possess a visual impairment, thus far in your lifetime it’s highly likely you would have noticed stars. Shining, twinkling and adorning the darkness of our planet’s night skies. Unbeknownst to some of us however, is that a great many of these twinkling little lights extinguished in many cases, millions of years ago.

What we are gazing upon is the light that star produced during its prime, traveling at the speed of light, yet still only now reaching our visual senses. The speed of light in the vacuum of space, is 299, 792, 458 meters per second (186, 282 miles per second. 299, 792 kilometers per second). To put that in perspective, our Earth is also about 149, 597, 870 km from the Sun. The light from the sun takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds to reach us on our planet’s surface. (149, 597, 870 km/299 792 km = 499 seconds/60 = 8.3168 = 8 minutes and 19 seconds).

So what this tells us, among other things, is that space is in fact, very, very big. So big in fact that even something as fast as the speed of light, takes quite a bit of time to get from one celestial body to the next. So what does any of this have to do with how we perceive time you might be wondering?

It is said that the speed of light as far as we can tell is a constant, but that doesn’t mean it’s a reliable source to suggest the existence of what we call “time”. Because while gravity does not effect light particles (directly), it does result in something called Gravitational Time Dilation. Gravitational Time Dilation is the differences in recorded time(s) observed at varied distances to a gravitational mass.

Essentially, while light is not directly effected by gravity, spacetime however, can be curved or warped by mass (gravity). This curvature of spacetime can in effect lengthen the distance required by light to travel to reach an observer. Meaning even though light travels at a constant speed, depending on the mass of the planet you find yourself on (along with many other gravitational factors), you may see the light sooner or later than someone perceiving the same light source on a planet further or closer to the same source.

This theory(?) is most commonly observed in Global Positioning System satellites which are positioned about 20, 197 km/12, 550 miles from the Earth. Being so far from the center of the Earth’s gravity, the clocks aboard the satellites systems measure (represent?) a passing of time faster than that on Earth. Which eventually led to the satellites requiring re-calibration with earth’s time to be able to function adequately.

To apply this concept of Gravitational Time Dilation in a way that is relative for us to understand (because in the end, that’s all time actually is). Scientists have discovered that if you should place two atomically accurate stop-watches at two locations, one stop-watch one foot higher than the other and left them ticking over in pristine isolation for 79 years, upon your return you would find that the stop-watch closer to Earth’s center would be 90 billionths of a second behind the stop-watch, one foot above.

To anyone reading this (assuming anyone did), you may scoff at 90 billionths of a second and think, in no way does that mean anything to me. But to you I will present this possibility: Imagine if everything that occurred in the formation of this planet (or one very similar), just so happened, by some chance, to take formation identically to Earth’s, only in regards to its collective mass being amplified, by 999, 999 , 999 billion, billion, billion, billion etc, etc %.

Mega Earth. Where there are copies of every one of us standing 999, 999 , 999 billion, billion, billion, billion etc, etc % larger than we are now. Out of curiosity how long do you think one of these colossal doppelgänger’s might live? An average lifespan? It theoretically correlates with gravity, so it goes without saying, that these beings, would live unbelievably long lifetimes. Nigh unfathomable to you or I.

The same principle could be applied to a microscopic world and the theory of evolution. Microscopic humanoids from a microscopic world would see a relative time almost uncurved by mass/gravity at all. Does this mean when compared to a much, much larger planet they are thousands of years of development ahead? Could there be microscopic highly advanced spacefarers traversing distances we can’t fathom, at sizes we cannot even detect with the naked eye?

All said and done, time is relative. Not even just in a scientific sense. It’s personal, we each perceive it differently. We wield it how we choose, some better than others. We even get allotted different amounts to spend in this world. But time as we generally come to know it, purely a man-made means of showing up on time for appointments, giving a name to something that doesn’t really exist.

The concept of TIME is brilliant, unique and very much needed for order and structure on this planet. But, it is also an illusion.

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