Leading article: Time, please!

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Researchers from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, have demonstrated, using two phenomenally precise atomic clocks, that the passage of time really does change depending on where you are. One of the clocks was placed just one foot above the other and, thanks to the lesser gravitational pull of the earth exerted on the latter, showed that less time had elapsed when they examined it. Comforting to know that Einstein's theory of relativity is actually correct. It would have been terribly inconvenient, not least for the physics community, to have had to reopen that old question.

But can we request that the scientists in Boulder, now they've proved the big one, turn their attentions to some other less important, though no less fascinating, temporal questions? First: why does the watched kettle never boil? Second: why do you always arrive at the boarding gate either far too early, or uncomfortably late? Third: is there a shorter division of time than the moment between which the traffic lights change and the impatient so-and-so behind you leans on his horn? Finally: how is it that the nights begin to draw in earlier with every passing year? We say: time for some answers.