Like contemporary hunter-gatherers, Paleolithic humans enjoyed an abundance of leisure time unparalleled in both Neolithic farming societies and modern industrial societies. At the end of the Paleolithic, specifically the Middle and or Upper Paleolithic, humans began to produce the earliest works of art such as cave paintings,rock art and jewelry and began to engage in religious behavior such as burial and ritual. How smart were they I wonder. I would give so much to have the chance to speak to one of these, my earliest pioneering forefathers, but I have no idea what we would talk about. “What do you do, what do you want, how many have you killed, how many have you fathered, what did you do, what is your mother like, what do you eat, how do you fight, where do you live, who did you kill, why do you do what you do, what do you think about all day, what do you think about at night, what do you think about leaves and the Sun and water and earth and the motion of the stars, would you like to know some more about one of many topics that we modern human beings have made some progress on — I didn’t mean what it sounded like I meant, good Sir, for we are your children and we are grateful to you for all these things. What would you like to eat? Now this taste may surprise you, but I promise you it’ll be good.”
Special relativity has several consequences that struck many people as counterintuitive, among which are:
- The time lapse between two events is not invariant from one observer to another, but is dependent on the relative speeds of the observers’ reference frames.
- Two events that occur simultaneously in different places in one frame of reference may occur at different times in another frame of reference — the lack of absolute simultaneity.
- The dimensions of an object as measured by one observer may differ from the results of measurements of the same object made by another observer.
- The twin paradox concerns a twin who flies off in a spaceship traveling near the speed of light. When he returns he discovers that his twin has aged much more rapidly than he has (or he aged more slowly).
- The inability for matter or information to travel faster-than-light.
To see one interesting consequence of special relativity for yourself, go back to the moment of your birth and imagine a ball centered on your little bawling head, and that stays centered there marking the position of your birth forever. The radius of this ball expands at the speed of light — this means, for example, that your birth-ball was as large as the earth 21.28 milliseconds after your were born. Your birth-ball represents the physical boundary of your effect on the Universe. Outside your birth-ball there can be no trace of you, not even the knowledge of your birth. This is your stomping ground. Your job is to fill it with as much of yourself as you possibly can, because it’s your only place and this is your only time.
But if you play your cards right, if you are like Genghis Khan who fathered 1/6 of modern humanity, or like Bach whose music will travel with us to the stars, or even the anonymous proto-human who invented the wheel, then the inside of your birth-ball will be permanently colored. The trick is to leverage the entire human race to amplify your will and actions. And then you can be happy knowing your birth-ball expands at the speed of light.