How We Came To Be Run By Time

 (iStockphoto)
(iStockphoto)

Where did time come from? How did it start?

I don't mean cosmic time in a "Big Bang" kind of way. No, I mean something far more intimate.

A couple of years ago I wrote a whole book on this subject called About Time Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang. What intrigued me most as I did my research for the book was the way different societies and historical periods shaped the lives of their citizens through what I called different cultural "time-logics." And more than anything else, it was technology that determined how a culture could parse the day into a new time-logic.

The most potent example of this connection between time, technology and experience was the invention of the mechanical clock. I could explain more but, luckily, Adam Westbrook has done me one better by embracing the idea through a short, sharp documentary cleverly called A Briefer History of Time.

It's only 3 minutes and 56 seconds long — and by the end you'll understand why those two numbers not only mean something to you, but also how that meaning controls your life.


Adam Frank is a co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester, a book author and a self-described "evangelist of science." You can keep up with more of what Adam is thinking on Facebook and Twitter: @adamfrank4.

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