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Stop all the clocks

Prevent the clocks from ticking with a juicy zone
  (+6, -1)
(+6, -1)
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This is slightly provoked by a New Scientist article, but not entirely.
A stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. However, if it stops at 3 o'clock and the clocks are going back, it will tell it three times. This is equivalent to making it tell the right time by shifting it to the time zone to the west of one's own, and of course stopped clocks tell the right time at least twenty-four times a day if they're travelling around the world at the right speed. A big advantage of a stopped clock is that it's perfectly accurate when it tells the right time, unlike any other clock.
Therefore, rather than moving the clock, why not move the time zone instead? All the clocks are set at midday/midnight, but once an hour, the time zone shifts. So, midday for me in the UK is renamed "GMT", one o'clock in the afternoon "CET" and so on. The time zones move around the planet but the clocks don't move.
Ah, you say, this won't work because it's only accurate to one hour. Not so. You use a time which, when displayed on a seven-segment digital display, looks like four different times, reflected and upside down. The hour is divided into four, then look at the clock itself for a quarter of an hour, its reflection for the next quarter, then the same clock upside down, then the reflection upside down. The times will be different then.
Still not very accurate? OK, then redefine the time zones to be smaller. In fact, define one for each second of the day, so instead of GMT, you have the likes of "Auchtermuchy Time", "Strathmiglo Time" and "Ladybank Time", all moving round the world. Then you do two things: Get airships to fly round the world with stopped clocks on their sides and invent a clock which displays "STRATHMIGLO", "AUCHTERMUCHTY", "LADYBANK" and so forth on consecutive seconds throughout the day.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009


       "Time is what is displayed on a clock"   

       So this is not stopping clocks entirely, because they have to move (physically) while being stopped.
neelandan, Jun 27 2009

       You'd run short of distinctly named places at the requisite granularity close to the international date line.   

       You'd also need to be very careful with language and transliteration to avoid confusing, say Dhaka time with Dakar time... and of course, the recycling of place-names throughout the anglophone world will give you problems. I suspect there'd be similar problems with other widely spoken languages (Spanish, Arabic, French) as well.
pertinax, Jun 27 2009

       The time zones have official names. Those could represent the hour and the placename the minute. Name recycling could be avoided by the deliberate choice of obscure names too. And no, indeed it isn't stopping clocks so much as using the entire planet as if it was an analogue clock. I don't get the International Date Line point quite yet: i shall shortly resolve that.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009

       //if it stops at 3 o'clock //   

       This would be good for efficiency as most everyone would have to continue working. At least until they dropped dead.
ldischler, Jun 27 2009

       Well, after that, you could get all the redundant clockwork in the stopped clocks and animate the corpses with it, so it wouldn't be wasted.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009

       My clock stopped. So I made the minute hand the same length as the hour hand. I have doubled its accuracy...
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       But when it stopped, its accuracy would have increased infinitely, so how could you improve on that? Double infinity is still infinity.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009

       If nobody looks at the clock, is it still showing a time?
baconbrain, Jun 27 2009

       Perhaps I should have said "Halved its innaccuracy"... :-) (It was just a joke anyway, oldie but goodie).   

       But even then that would not strictly be right. It comes down to your view on time itself. Do you believe in *chronons* (granular time) or is time smooth (contiguous (yes that invokes time too)).   

       If you believe in *chronons* then your clock is at least right a few times a second/minute/hour/day. There are horrible inteference patterns at such high frequencies. Something will get into phase a multiple of occasions per large enough unit time.   

       If time is smooth, then the only accurate clock is a stopped one. And it will be *exactly* right twice a day, in its current configuration. It is not right to say it will be right four times a day if I make certain indicators similar. The angle between the arms, and their bearing becomes more important (without mirrors). And these of course will only be right twice a day.
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       I believe time is smooth because of relativity. If chronons existed, they'd have to change in duration according to the local frame of reference, so there'd be chronons of different "size", meaning that there would have to be an absolute way of measuring them, i.e. smooth time.
There's a difference between time time and time of day time. Time of day, in a sense, measures the angle between your position on the planet, its centre and the point opposite the Sun in the twenty-four hour clock, and between your position, Earth's centre and a line segment between the centre of the Sun and Earth's centre in the twelve hour clock. The difference is that it's measured in hours, minutes and seconds rather than more conventional angular units.
I have a couple of problems with the statement i've just made: solar versus sidereal time, the fact that seconds in time are actually units of time and the issue of barycentres.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009

       Funnily enough I was having this very discussion, a fraction of a radian ago, with a friend. Of course it boils down to the granular representation of matter-energy v the smooth representation of space-time.
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       This is a slightly stoned sort of thing to say (which i never am), but to me, the granularity is the quantum-based view of things and smooth time is Einsteinian.
It also occurs to me that the time of day could be measured in nautical miles east of the prime meridian at the equator.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009

       //the granularity is the quantum-based view of things and smooth time is Einsteinian.//   

       Utterly un-stoned thing to say, it is quite accurate. It is one of the main reasons the proponents of either side kept bumping heads. Also one of the main reasons the lumpy guys propose a lumpy effect on a smooth surface by means of, at least two, m-branes "touching' to create lumpy-ness on otherwise provably smooth surfaces.
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       - "What's the time?"
- "Half past Tokyo"
hippo, Jun 27 2009

       Yes, not sure about the Atlantic though. Are there enough islands to maintain it there?
[4whom], interesting. I hadn't come across that before. So, is the idea that the branes are wrinkled? Rather like the other spelling if so.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009

       You must remember the background of this whole thing was the continuum hypothesis (the smoothness of everything), with strong drive from David Hilbert as its main protagonist. Cantor and Godel created a nice division here, Boltzmann followed it up in physics, and Turing put the final nail in the computational coffin a few years later. Feynmann followed up with a reasonable (well *very* reasonable) explanation of granular *borrowing* from smooth and then paying it back, sometimes with interest, sometimes without.   

       Something drastic is going to happen soon, I suspect. Whether time gets shit-canned, or gravity does, or E8 lie groups become popular, or m-branes solve everything, or the fact that any loop on a three sphere can be drawn to a point, or more accurately if you can make a loop into a point in three space the shape is equivalent to a three sphere. (i.e space gets shit-canned) I don't know. I would imagine no-one else does either...   

       As to m-branes. Yes they are wrinkled, supposedly. One, or several, of these m-branes have super powerful gravity. They wrinkle/bubble through our observable dimensions to create a relatively weak gravity. Load of bollocks if you ask me. It is just the lumpies trying to satisfy their smoothie tendancies, exhibited in their maths. Although it goes a long way to explaining dark matter at least. An anomoly of m-brane interference, which we could never detect, creating large quantities of gravitational attraction from non-observable "matter".
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       I'm going to try to say something intelligent.
The difference between there being countably and uncountably infinite genuinely possible locations in space would condition whether there can be granularity in time as well, or there could be two adjacent points which are sort of "slipping" with respect to each other. It seems to me that a lumpy 'brane is just a continuum with bits that aren't touching. The question then would be, are the bits which are touching points or do they have a size? If they have a size, there's still a continuum within which you could get swirliness and time differences. Does that make sense or am i missing the point?
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2009

       Apparently, and I am only giving my understanding here, the m-branes have many different manifestations. Some are infinitely long and infinitely thin. Others look like what we percieve as a sheet, in several dimensions, stretchy over infinity in all of their dimensions. Others are your proverbial doughnut/torus or sphere or cylinder, etc. And often in more than three dimensions. Some of these branes intersect with our observable space-time, space, whatever, as lines, as points, as rings, as once again whatever.   

       These points of intersections provide a perceivable lumpy-ness to us, although they are the intersection of lots of smooth things. This enables nice smooth mathematics to create lumps. Which are also quite nice.   

       I think the philosophy is that branes must intersect to produce things like space, time, energy (and its associated matter), gravity and maybe somethings we haven't found or cannot find. Certain branes already inersect, like our three spaces and one time, others flutter in and out of this *system*.
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       This is generally where I start having a problem with the theory. I like lumpiness, it has great results. But I also like smoothness. It is good for time, gravity and to some extent energy ito motion/acceleration. Well I should like m-Theory then? It brings together lumpiness and smoothness. Well, I don't. The one remarkable foible of m-theory, is all the bits left out of our realm of observation, all nicely cleaved off as being somewhere else, all wrapped up in miniscule calabi-yau spaces or even worse wondering a fraction of a fraction of a unit of measurement away from you.   

       Some of which we should have observed by now, if not directly, then certainly its after effects. Probability, after all, is the fairest judge.   

       One of these is anti-gravity. Maybe we have just got some observational catching-up to do ( a few more billion years to view a distinct probability), but I doubt it.
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       And that is last I will say of that. My Chenin Blanc is gone, but a stopped clock is really the only accurate time keeping device so, bun for the idea.   

       Of course //get airships// means they do not operate under the same gravitational influence as surface dwellers, so you will have to have leap seconds every so often.
4whom, Jun 27 2009

       The noise and the fury hidden with smoke and mirrors.
WcW, Jun 28 2009

       I can't tell you what time is, but i can tell you when it is being wasted.
WcW, Jun 28 2009

       I went to bed! The non-stopped clocks here persuaded me that the dusk outside and the bollockiness of my last anno were trying to tell me something.
One of the reasons i like brane theory is that it means the Big Bang isn't the beginning. If the interactions can have different numbers of dimensions, they could be granular in some dimensions but smooth in others.
So, you don't like the unobservability? I think that applies to dark matter as well: conveniently unobservable stuff which just happens to make the books balance, which is why i think at most it must be MoND plus baryons, with maybe a lot of neutrinos thrown in. Concerning brane theory though, one reason i'm suspicious of the Big Bang is that it supposes a beginning and, whereas i don't want to be ad hominem about it, Georges Lemaître was a theist. I don't have a problem with theists but i think he was allowing that to prejudice his theory, so it's a bit like creationism. Consequently, any theory which allows things to extend beyond the apparent origin is worth looking into. One thing i don't like about it is that it's twiddly in a way which isn't falsifiable, so far as i know. Something like the Steady State theory wouldn't have that problem.
nineteenthly, Jun 28 2009


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