Field of Science

Universal Standard Time - Set Your Watches

Each fall and spring here in the Northern Temperate zone, excluding Hoosiers who insist on doing their own thing for the silliest of reasons, our local time reference shifts an hour to take maximum advantage of daylight hours. This shift between daylight savings time and “standard” time always causes considerable consternation, so the Phactor has no illusions about how troubling it will be to resetting your time pieces to account for new data that provides an age of the Universe at 13.75 billion years (+/-0.11) rather than 13.73 BYA. Yes, this was published 9 months ago, but what are a few months (years, eons) on such a time scale? So set your watches accordingly. This of course rather points out that our local time designation, a system designed to make trains schedules meaningful and accurate, and in this the good old USA this is an abject failure, is quite arbitrary and those atomic watches that set themselves to an accuracy of one 250th of the second or something like that are an absurdity. Numbers like 13.75 billion years always sort of boggle the mind, as does the implication that the universe ballooned from a subatomic size to something the diameter of a soccer ball during its first 30 seconds of existence. And so you sort of wonder where did all this stuff come from, and the answer, a marvel of mathematical logic, is that the sum total of positives and negatives, the matter and antimatter, in the universe are essentially zero, so there is nothing to account for save a miniscule asymmetry on the side of matter, and this is what we see. The Phactor does so apologize to any reader who has a more sophisticated understanding; this is the best this botanist can do.

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