What I learned last week (#127): nature is irregular

Watercolor painting of Whidbey Island in Washington State

Book excerpt I was thinking about:

“Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action. Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement. Once an implementation intention has been set, you don’t have to wait for inspiration to strike. Do I write a chapter today or not? Do I meditate this morning or at lunch? When the moment of action occurs, there is no need to make a decision. Simply follow your predetermined plan. The simple way to apply this strategy to your habits is to fill out this sentence: I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].” (James Clear, Atomic Habits)

Playing with time:

Some of the inspiration in the video came from the 2020 Christopher Nolan film Tenet, Ouaniche says, and he even included a small homage to Nolan in the milk bottle sequence — take a close look at the label of the stopwatch.

Read This Guy Bends Time and Space in Slow Motion on petapixel.com

Coordinated time is a made-up construct that is both useful and harmful:

What’s usually taught in Western schools is that the time in our clocks (and by extension, our calendars) is determined by the rotation of the Earth, and thus the movement of the sun across our sky. The Earth, we learn, completes an orbit of the sun in 365 days, which determines the length of our year, and it rotates on its axis once every 24 hours, which determines our day. Thus an hour is 1/24 of this rotation, a minute is 1/60 of an hour and a second is 1/60 of a minute.

None of this is true. The Earth is not a perfect sphere with perfect movement; it’s a lumpy round mass that is squashed at both poles and wobbles. It does not rotate in exactly 24 hours each day or orbit the sun in exactly 365 days each year. It just kinda does. Perfection is a manmade concept; nature is irregular.

For thousands of years, most human societies have accepted and moved in harmony with the irregular rhythms of nature, using the sun, moon and stars to understand the passage of time. One of the most common early timekeeping devices, sundials (or shadow clocks) reflected this: The hours of the day were not of fixed 60-minute lengths, but variable. Hours were longer or shorter as they waxed and waned in accordance with the Earth’s orbit, making the days feel shorter in the winter and longer in the summer. These clocks didn’t determine the hours, minutes and seconds themselves, they simply mirrored their surrounding environment and told you where you were within the cyclical rhythms of nature.

But since the 14th century, we’ve gradually been turning our backs on nature and increasingly calculating our sense of time via manmade devices.

Read The Tyranny Of Time on noemamag.com

James Turrell’s Roden Crater:

I recently learned about James Turrell, a “sculptor of light”, and his project at Roden Crater:

He has spent 45 years designing a series of tunnels and chambers inside to capture celestial light. Yet Turrell has rarely allowed anyone to visit the work in progress. Known as Roden Crater, it stands 580 feet tall and nearly two miles wide. One of the tunnels that Turrell has completed is 854 feet long. When the moon passes overhead, its light streams down the tunnel, refracting through a six-foot-diameter lens and projecting an image of the moon onto an eight-foot-high disk of white marble below. The work is built to align most perfectly during the Major Lunar Standstill every 18.61 years. The next occurrence will be in April 2025. To calculate the alignment, Turrell worked closely with astronomers and astrophysicists. Because the universe is expanding, he must account for imperceptible changes in the geometry of the galaxy. He has designed the tunnel, like other features of the crater, to be most precise in about 2,000 years. Turrell’s friends sometimes joke that’s also when he’ll finish the project.

Read The Light Fantastic on smithsonianmag.com


Just learned about this site, Forekast.com. A weekly forecast of the events coming up globally (and locally?). Pretty cool idea.


Stuff I wrote and drew about this week:

Other things I was reminded of, or thankful for, last week:

  • I suffered a skateboarding accident at the start of the week and cracked some ribs and seriously injured my back. So I was mostly bedridden all week on a lot of painkillers. As my friend said, “at least you looked cool”, but it wasn’t worth it. 😬
  • While I iced my ribs and back, the kids and I watched Raya and The Last Dragon and it was great. The “enemy” was pretty generic, but it was beautifully animated and the side characters were very memorable.

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

Comments welcome!