Monday, October 4, 2010

Perceptions of time.

Now, here is an interesting thought.

Postulate this. A sentient race evolves on a tidelocked planet. The life zone extends inwards from the terminator. Traveling to the dark side would require a reasonable level of technology. Thus, the sun is always visible. There are no stars in the sky. Very rarely, said sentients might glimpse another planet, if its between them and the sun.

The only variation in light level would occur by latitude. Because the life zone runs around the planet's equator, there is little or no seasonal variation. Day and night would be meaningless terms to such people.

How would such a people measure time? The only possible way would be 'the length of time it takes to'.

It is easy to postulate a sentience that has no concept of time that is not related to personal, directly caused change. 'In the time it takes me to walk to the next village'. Or 'The time it takes me to chop a log'. As it would take different individuals different amounts of time to perform any given action...

One might thus postulate a culture that never develops the concept of a separation between time and distance. Just as early humans likely measured distance by time (and how often do people today say 'Its four hours away' instead of giving a distance in miles), there would be no separation between time and distance or time and change.

The illusion of time as separate from space would therefore not develop in their minds.

As strange as all this seems, it might well be the perception of time experienced by beings on Gliese g...and thus the best ambassadors from Earth might be Inuit or, say, Aborigines. People who have never fallen into the 'time is separate from motion' trap.