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Remembering Time as Being Much More Dense in the Past

Each year my mother gives me a subscription to Time Magazine as a Christmas gift.  Though I have half a mind to give her a subscription to "The Economist" or "The Nation" or "Mother Jones"  for her Birthday, I have not yet accomplished the ability to make such subtle commentary on reading preferences to my mother. 

 

A friend suggested I just opt for a subscription to the "Utne Reader" as her Christmas gift next year and just be done with it, but when confronted with the idea, I retreated back into thinking of  "The Economist" - a publication I dearly love and have loved for over two decades of my life.

 

You see, in the "The Economist" they actually talk about global issues, and what is happening in other countries, and give hard facts about economic effects on the environment, medicine, and human health and well being... and not just in the US.

 

My friend, a Political Science and Environmental Policy professor, spends his time reading the Washington Post and the New York Times online.  And often, without realizing it, he reminds me of Henry Kendall, a Nobel Prizewinner for the discovery of Quarks and founder of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who I briefly worked with at MIT before he passed from a scuba diving accident, and who still provides me with some encouragement across the veil to keep learning about cosmology, greater reality, and anything I can that may improve the condition of life in this world.

 

Henry loved to read the New York Times at lunch in the conference room of the Particle Physics Collaboration.  He would come past my desk to heat up whatever the simple microwaveable soup of the day was, and to check the status of the coffee pot... was there enough coffee?  Was there enough coffee and was it strong enough for the younger physicists who were spending long hours endeavoring to explore the beginning of the Universe... the moment of the Big Bang?   If there was enough coffee, and if he deemed the coffee strong enough, he seemed satisfied that he had contributed something important to the collaboration for the day, and he would then move himself and his copy of the New York Times to the conference room, where he would sit, and read, and often read aloud, the events of the past days and weeks across the world as they were reported in the New York Times.

 

On days I was lucky (and brave) enough to sit in the conference room with Henry during his review of world events as reported in the New York Times.  I would find myself being asked questions about what the events meant in terms of our shared greater reality.  What, for example, did taxation of cigarette companies have to do with the greater economic prosperity of the US in the long term?  Was taxation of cigarette companies the answer to curbing massive negative health effects in the world from nicotine?  What about environmental effects from tobacco growing?  Which industry, of all the industries in the world, would I consider to be most evil? That is to say... which industry was doing the most harm environmentally and socially in order to serve it's shareholders and financial bottom line? 

 

Henry would just ask me these questions and wait for my answer.  He would know the answer, or at least have a strong opinion of what the answer could be.  I, of course, would enter the conference room thinking it was a good place to get away from my desk to have a quiet cup of tea, and upon entering it, would find Henry there waiting to ask me questions on ethics, morality, and the inter-connectedness of most  world events, public policy, government, human and animal suffering... and the relieving of suffering.

 

Henry always made me think.  He didn't request that I think, he didn't suggest that I think... he MADE ME think.

 

My friend, the professor who sometimes reminds me of Henry without really trying... reminded me of him again the other morning.   While I was reading some news of the day online, he noticed my mother's Time Magazine gift on the side table, and remarked, "I seem to remember Time as being much more dense in the past..."  not noticing that he was referring to the actual copy of Time Magazine, and not "time" the physical construct.. I was made to think by his statement.  "Well, if time was much more dense in the past... how would one be able to measure that?  And what would cause time to become less dense than it had been previously?  What in fact, would cause changes in the density of time?  And what is Dense Time?"

 

I had gone off into thinking about cosmology and physical reality so deeply that as soon as I recognized that I had slipped down the proverbial rabbit hole into a physics and mathematics territory I really do not have a handle on, I also realized he was simply remarking that Time Magazine seems to contain fewer pages than it used to. 

 

So even though he wasn't actually trying to remind me of Henry by MAKING ME think... he just did. 

 

 

 

 

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