Time travels slowly in west Kansas

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a church conference in Colorado Springs, which seemed like a great idea until I found myself traveling all alone down I-70 on the great expanse of nothingness that ill-fated cartographers labeled as western Kansas shortly before their deaths.

They died of boredom, of course, because there is absolutely nothing else out there that could possibly kill you.

I listened to the radio until I ran out of stations. At one point I watched my dash display cycle endlessly through the stations, searching for a frequency?any frequency?to latch onto.

Then I attempted to listen to an audio book that is saved on my iPhone, which I stuck in an empty coffee mug to amplify the sound. However, all the ?s? syllables were turned into hissy screeches, so that didn?t last long.

There were also snacks. Lots of snacks. But it turns out Chex Mix bags are filled mostly with pretzels. And I really dislike pretzels.

So then it was just me and my thoughts. And, like most people who run out of things to think about, I eventually turned to the study of physics.

I am not a physicist. I don?t even play one on TV. But thanks to a randomly remembered segment of an old ?Bill Nye the Science Guy? episode, I do have a very basic understanding of part of Einstein?s theory of special relativity.

It?s called time dilation, and it goes like this: If one twin brother rockets into space at nearly the speed of light and the other twin brother stays on earth and does what most earth-bound people do (watch TV and eat McDonald?s), then the space twin will return to earth to discover that his brother has aged more rapidly.

The idea is that time literally travels at a slower pace when moving rapidly than when sitting at rest. It offers an explanation for the one twin brother who went to rocket, and the one twin brother who stayed home, but we still know nothing bout the twin brothers who had roast beef, and who had none, and the one who went wee-wee-wee all the way home.

If you?re still reading this after that awful attempt at humor, time dilation was apparently proven in an experiment with two atomic clocks, one of which sat stationary while the other was spun around rapidly. At the end of the experiment both clocks were brought together again, and the one that was in constant motion showed a later time than the one that was not.

However, we should bear in mind that I?m getting much of this research off of Wikipedia, which has all sorts of implications when it comes to the perception of time and accuracy.

Another interesting theory about time perception is that when a person is bored, their internal clock speeds up, which makes time seem to crawl by. I actually learned this in a high school physics class, although not for the reasons you might think.

Back in my car?about three years later?mountains finally appeared on the horizon. It was about time, theoretically speaking.