Yet today’s physicists rarely debate what time is and why we experience it the way we do, remembering the past but never the future. Instead, researchers build ever-more accurate clocks. The current record-holder, at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Colorado, measures the vibration of strontium atoms; it is accurate to 1 second in 15 billion years, roughly the entire age of the known universe. Impressive, but it does not answer ‘What is time?’
To declare that question outside the pale of physical theory doesn’t make it meaningless. The flow of time could still be real as part of our internal experience, just real in a different way from a proton or a galaxy. Is our experience of time’s flow akin to watching a live play, where things occur in the moment but not before or after, a flickering in and out of existence around the ‘now’? Or, is it like watching a movie, where all eternity is already in the can, and we are watching a discrete sequence of static images, fooled by our limited perceptual apparatus into thinking the action flows smoothly?
Both lovers and haters of basic income often miss an important point: We don’t have great data on how it would work or what would happen if it did.
Why is Arthur Miller one of the most lauded American playwrights—and one of the most vilified?
Travel across rural America and you’ll spot “No Trespassing” and “Private Property” signs posted on trees and fence posts everywhere. And even where there aren’t signs, Americans know they don’t have the implicit permission to visit their town’s neighboring woods, fields and coastlines. Long gone are the days when we could, like Henry David Thoreau on the outskirts of his native Concord, Mass., freely saunter “through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”
As a child, Blanche Wolf wanted more than anything to live a life surrounded by books. Born in 1894, and raised in Manhattan by well-to-do parents, her love of reading and culture set her apart from her family and their upwardly-mobile, secular, and socially-constrained Jewish community. When she met Alfred Knopf in 1911, she was attracted most of all to his bookishness—which, one suspects, he might have played up in order to win over the pretty redhead, underestimating how serious she was about it. Her dream life was simple, heartbreakingly so: “We decided we would get married and make books and publish them.” How could she have known that the hardest part of that dream was the “we”?
In 2015, the Sonoma Stompers, the team with one of the lowest payrolls in the Pacific Association, a professional baseball league near San Francisco, did something desperate: It handed its baseball-operations department to a couple of stat-savvy writers with no baseball-management experience, Ben Lindbergh and me.