Our ongoing 1915 Whatta Year! project today embraces the theories of general and special relativity, or if you prefer, the breakthroughs that made the name Einstein synonymous with genius. Why? Next to no one knows. See, the theories of general and special relativity remain baffling to virtually the entire human race. Only about nineteen living people understand either one, let alone both.
(Granted, Einstein’s theories prove that Einstein himself is still alive, somewhere or somewhen. Then, a smattering of people since 1915 have understood the theories, too. The figure “nineteen” refers to those you and I consider alive, in this moment in the year 2015, not those alive in the relativistic sense. Hmm. But see, even that’s not quite right. What if you’re reading this blog post on December 5 and one of the people who understood the theories passed away last night? Each set of figures changes. Then there’s the possibility you have found this blog post while searching through records in a post-apocalyptic world. To you, that “nineteen” is all wrong. Yet in relativistic terms it remains correct, to a point. Let that blow your mind while you’re eating that can of yams you scrounged in the ruins.)
Einstein’s theories changed everything. We have to take physicists’ word on that, of course, but no one has disproved the man yet. The UIP even asked French intellectual Rémy Lestienne to do the impossible: make the bewildering concepts of time accessible and interesting. I think we all know better than to dare a French intellectual. He published his book The Children of Time: Causality, Entropy, Becoming in short order, and it remains on sale for your perusal. Or if you want something funnier, re-read Slaughterhouse-Five, where the unstuck-in-time Billy Pilgrim explores time travel and even his own “death” with the help of the relativity-savvy Tralfamadorians.
Like you, I have thought it might be fun to travel in time, just to get the dope on important events, or to masquerade as a renaissance man with what we in 2015 consider everyday knowledge of genetics, medicine, fixing things, and so on. I would get a lot of immunizations first, mind you, though even that safety procedure has limits. The Illinois Country of 1812 was rife with malaria. We have no malaria vaccine in 2015. Should I just visit there in the winter? That sounds pretty miserable.
Every time and place offers countless risks. Experiments with not-quite-right gunpowder. Angry dodo birds. Can you imagine making years of preparations to visit the Golden Age of Greece and then getting run over by a chariot the moment you materialize? Personally, I am fairly sure that, no matter what time period I visit, I can only stay until I need to go to the dentist again.
Or maybe Billy Pilgrim had it right. He was unstuck in time. But when randomly revisiting the moments of his life, he got to once again experience some pretty nice times, too. Let’s make it a day we all want to revisit again and again. It’s National Cookie Day. Binge. Bake. Try out those limited edition Quinoa Oreos that tempt you at the grocery store. We’ll meet you back here again. Again and again? Or maybe at every moment always.