In October 2011, Popova links us to a BBC commentary on "Time" by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, who concludes that "the more we understand time, the more we find that it is time that makes us uniquely human," and that "time is the greatest force in our lives." You'll have to watch the entire BBC series if you want to understand exactly why Kaku makes those claims, but the essence appears to be a claim that "Time" is hardwired into our biology, and that what is called our "circadian rhythm" is fundamental to our existence. A review in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal cites to a new book, Life Time, which apparently substantiates this claim. Beyond this "biological" approach to understanding "Time," Popova provides us with suggestions for further reading. She advises that there are seven "must read" books about time, and names them, thus: (1) A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking; (2) From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, by physicist Sean Carroll; (3) Time, by artist Andy Goldsworthy; (4) Cartographies of Time, by Princeton professor Anthony Grafton; (5) Time: A Graphic Guide, by Craig Callender; (6) The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life, by Philip Zimbardo; and (7) The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination, by Chrisoula Andreou and Mark D. White.
In July 2013, Popova discusses why "Time Slows Down When We're Afraid, Speeds Up as We Age, and Gets Warped on Vacation." Popova directs her readers to yet another book, Claudia Hammond's Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception. Hammond is a British author, TV presenter, and frequent radio presenter with the BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4, and she advances the idea that our experience of "Time" is actively created by our own minds, and that "Time," thus, is not something that exists independently.
In October 2014, Popova turns to Galileo, and tells us how well Steven Johnson has documented Galileo's thoughts about "Time" in Johnson's book, How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made The Modern World. Galileo's contribution? The invention of the pendulum clock, a hundred times more accurate than any preceding technology, which soon became a staple of European life and forever changed our relationship with time.
In March 2015, Popova talked about the writer Sarah Manguso, and celebrated Manguso's insight that the nature of "Time" is to be "ongoing," which means, inevitably, that "Time" escapes us, and that we forget the past. However irritating or infuriating it is to have forgotten even the most important parts of our life (and I definitely have experienced this frustration), Manguso counsels us to revel in this forgetfulness, and to understand that "the forgotten moments are the price of continued participation in life, a force indifferent to time."
In May 2015, Popova discusses "Time" in connection with Virginia Woolf, and particularly in connection to Woolf's novel, Orlando. Woolf, Popova says, understood the "elasticity" of "Time." Duration, surely one of the most salient aspects of "Time" as we typically think of it, is subjectively malleable: "An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length; on the other hand, an hour may be accurately represented on the timepiece of the mind by one second."
In another posting in May 2015, Popova points out that the kind of "subjective" experience of "Time" that she discussed in connection with Woolf is not the whole story. In fact, Popova asserts, "however convincing our intuitive sense that time is a mutable abstraction shaped by the subjective grab-bag of attributes and experiences we call the self, there remains the empirical nature of time as a measurable, observable, concrete dimension of reality — and the rift between these two conceptions of time is one of the most disorienting yet fascinating aspects of existence." Popova cites to both Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel as those who describe "Time" as a "concrete dimension of reality," and recommends a book by Rebecca Goldstein as a way to learn more about this aspect of "Time," Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel.
In December 2015, Popova features Hannah Arendt's thoughts "On Time, Space, and Where Our Thinking Ego Resides." As already indicated, I think Arendt has valuable insights about how "Time" is related to the "Political World" in which we most immediately live. Popova alludes to the "gap" in "Time" that is discussed extensively in Between Past And Future, but Popova wants her readers to engage with Arendt's final major work, too, The Life of The Mind, which Popova calls "one of the most stimulating packets of thought ever published."
In May 2016, Popova explores the thought of Bertrand Russell, whom Popova calls "a thinker of rare genius." In his book, Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays, Russell is seeking to decide whether a "mystical" or a "logical" view of reality will best help us understand the world. Both perspectives, he concludes, are required, and Popova points to "Russell’s discussion of "Time" and the question of whether or not it is real — perhaps the greatest friction point between science and metaphysics" - as the most important topic that Russell addresses within his overall exploration of the nature of reality: "With an eye to the mystics’ assertion that linear time is an illusion," Russell writes, "it is difficult to disentangle the truth and the error in this view. The arguments for the contention that time is unreal and that the world of sense is illusory must, I think, be regarded as fallacious. Nevertheless there is some sense — easier to feel than to state — in which time is an unimportant and superficial characteristic of reality. Past and future must be acknowledged to be as real as the present, and a certain emancipation from slavery to time is essential to philosophic thought."
In September 2016, the last reference I am providing here, Popova refers us to the thinking of Jorge Luis Borges, and particularly to his 1946 essay, "A New Refutation of Time," which is found in Borges' book, Labyrinths: "Borges begins by noting the deliberate paradox of his title, [which is] a contrast to his central thesis that the continuity of time is an illusion, that time exists without succession and each moment contains all eternity, which negates the very notion of “new.” The “slight mockery” of the title, he notes, is his way of illustrating that “our language is so saturated and animated by time.” Popova ends her presentation of Borges' thoughts on "Time" as follows, quoting Borges' assertion that "Time" plays a determinative role in the definition of our reality: "Denying temporal succession, denying the self, denying the astronomical universe, are apparent desperations and secret consolations. Our destiny … is not frightful by being unreal; it is frightful because it is irreversible and iron-clad. Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges."