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The Theory of Relativity Explained

Whatever I understand, however falteringly, of the theory of relativity comes from long car rides across the prairies where you can see distant rainfall. My husband says, “It’s raining now.” But that isn’t strictly speaking true: it was raining before; the “now” just refers to the fact that we have moved into the place where the rain is falling. Clearly time is just a dimension of space, a kind of movement through space, to simplify.

That is how we meausre time, at any rate, as movement through space. A day is one rotation of the earth; a year is one revolution of the earth around the sun. all other time measurements are portions or multiples of these units. But what I find most interesting is that both these movements are circular in nature. Like a round clock face, time does not end but comes around.

The way that our culture views time– as an arrow through space– belies the fundamentally circular nature of time. As in our stories, we believe there is a beginning and an end. Thus we theorize the world began with a bang and all matter spread outwards from the there. But that begs the question, “What came before that?”

Given that nature seems to love the spiral form, it makes sense to theorize that the singularity at the universe’s centre is spinning, and as it spins, matter is flung outward. Rather than moving like an arrow, this matter circles the centre in a spiral motion outwards.

This beginning and ending business does not pertain to a universe where time is just another dimension. We are the ones obsessed with beginnings and endings because we are mortal. It should perhaps comfort us to consider that time’s movement through space is circular not linear, and we are all and always turning and returning.

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