The Wide Angle: Resolving science or idiot’s guide to understanding

Published 6:46 am Saturday, January 5, 2019

I read an interesting scientific article the other day by a pair of physicists that argued that time is largely a construct of our own perception through life, following what is conceived of as the arrow of time.

Not surprisingly, I understood very little of what was being argued, especially when the article brought quantum mechanics into the fray.

Listen, I said I read it. I never promised that I understood even some of it.

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Still, when I started reading through my Facebook feed and seeing so many people looking at the new year as a fresh start and a clean slate, it got me thinking along a parallel line of thought.

If I understand even a little bit of the article, then the new year possibly doesn’t exist except to our own perceptions, created by our biological make-up. Of course, I could be completely off base here, given the lack of my ability to understand a lot of this scientific stuff. Maybe one of my 21 readers has a better grasp on this scientific idea. Of course if I’m wrong, then this column doesn’t make a whole lot of sense … which means I’m still right on track.

Also, 21 readers. Another mystery to be solved but look, my first successes of 2019.

At any rate, we’re here today not to talk about scientific principal, but the idea of trying to start the new year on a fresh and soaring note. In all honesty, the idea of the new year is simply a product of the use of a calendar as humans strive to understand the world around them and better understand the cycle of life.

Now we have a point that provides a starting line. Humans love starting lines. We have sports dedicated to not only starting lines, but finish lines which gives everybody involved — athletes, officials and fans — a clear level of what they expect from, well, start to finish.

Also, apparently we like lines. Why not starting curves? Or, finish isosceles triangles?

The principal of start and finish seems to make humans feel better as the unexpected leads to scientists, which leads to second-rate columnists with 21 readers trying to understand scientific method.

I blame getting glasses last year. Makes me look like I should be smarter. I just can’t live up to that expectation.

So let’s apply this to the year. We have a clear start and a clear finish thanks to the calendar. Between those two points in space-time, we know when birthdays are (Jan. 31 for you gift-giving types. Wink), holidays,  anniversaries, days the Minnesota Vikings blew the playoffs, so on and so forth.

With all of these beginnings and endings, it makes it easy for us mortals to plan and prepare. As Thanksgiving passes, Christmas lays on the horizon and New Year’s Eve hovers at the edge of our vision, we start thinking of those items that will hopefully guide us toward being better people, improving on the foundations that make me, er … us special.


Yep, all these column inches just to roll into a subject I broach every year.

As many of you know, I don’t do resolutions anymore, because quite frankly I was terrible at keeping them. I once said I would take up running a long time ago.

And we laughed and laughed and laughed and by we I mean everybody who heard me say this or even knows me a little.

I run in very specific circumstances. Case in point, while covering an elevator fire in Huron, South Dakota, everything seemed to be winding down at the scene, so I asked the fire chief if it was safe to get a little closer.

He said I could go up to just in front of the nearest fire engine. So I wandered up, completely comfortable in the situation being firmly in the Huron Fire Department’s control, until three firefighters bolted out of the elevator in a dead sprint — and that says something considering the gear. At any rate, my second thought was I need the shot, unfortunately, that came after my first thought, which was well if they are running …

Keep in mind that in the world of fire scenes, when firefighters are running, a standard is set for expeditious evactuating of the area. Also, I’m not asking questions and thus I ended up in Cavour, South Dakota, about six miles down the road.

Fact: I’m not at all a runner so when I read a couple articles saying walking is better than running for your knees, I exclaimed, “Yes” because I already walk and that’s kind of like running-light, so in a way I succeeded.

It’s not that I don’t have the will to do things when I put my mind to something. I once filled in the weather on the weather page in five minutes during a self-perceived competition with Colby Hansen in composing. He may argue differently, but don’t believe him.

So I have the will, but what hurts me is the attention span. In a lot of ways I’m like a golden retriever when squirrels are about. A crow who spots shiny things. Often times, when I set my mind to a resolution, it’s sidelined by something else.

Case in point, I started running until I was distracted by not wanting to run anymore. It’s all very annoying.

I have to admit, those that do make resolutions and follow through with them ought to be commended. We should all put ourselves in situations in which we can better ourselves.

Like me, I’m always looking for ways to better my New Year’s resolutions, which means I need to start making resolutions again, which means I need to make a resolution to start making resolutions again. Where does it all start, where does it all end?

Weird, I think I’m starting to get the point of that article now.

Happy New Year everybody. May your year be successful, may your setbacks be short-lived and may your resolutions be resolute.