Time is the most mysterious concept in all of Physics, and yet Time is the journal and magic-carpet of our human lives. In its first guise as Clock Time — it is a modern dispassionate concept measured by clockwork or crystal; in its second, as Human Time, a deeply personal measure, yet as old as the hills. So why on Earth do we continually confuse the two concepts, by some quirk of history calling them by the same name, when in truth they are fundamentally different. By confusing the two we can warp our entire lives, overvaluing old age for instance, undervaluing childhood. After all, there was never any good reason to imagine that Clock-Time was measuring Human-Time as well.

Two coinciding life-events drove me to wonder about this confusion. A fine young student of mine died of incurable cancer just as he was about to complete his Astrophysics degree . And my very old father opted to undergo an extremely risky operation to restore his health: “But Dad, what if you die prematurely?” I asked

“A year more or less at my age is of little consequence” he replied , “After all it would be only one in ninety. If I were nine instead it would be far more valuable, being a whole ninth of my entire life.”

After pondering the matter I concluded that Dad must be right. Human Time and Clock (or Calendrical) Time were two entirely different concepts, and that being the case I should investigate the relationship between the two. That turned out to be richly insightful. Indeed without understanding that relationship, I don’t see how anyone can become wise.

Dad survived his op. and lived happily until he was 96, when he died in a fit of rage occasioned by his bloody family. And I was able to comfort the student’s parents by explaining he had lived, in Human Time, for more than half the total human span.

You can download an essay on the two kinds of Time, and some of the consequences which follow, by double clicking on

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