Damian Bathersby
Damian Bathersby

Einstein was on to something

I GET some strange emails sent to me.

Some are funny, some are quirky and some are just plain weird.

But few of them rate against the one that popped into my inbox recently from a bloke claiming to be a time traveller.

He might be a time traveller and he might not.

Who am I to judge?

And I'm not about to argue with him, because I know it's an argument I have no chance of winning.

If he is a fair dinkum time traveller, he will have already travelled forward in time and know all the arguments I plan to use against him, thereby giving himself plenty of time to prepare his rebuttals.

If he isn't a time traveller, then he's a complete goose and I have found out the hard way that there's no point arguing with someone who's a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Besides, I kind of like his theory, which even he admits is loosely based on Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

This bloke, who forgot to put his name on his email (if he is a fair dinkum time traveller, wouldn't he have been able to go back in time and remedy that oversight?) has come up with a theory to explain why men spend so much time in the pub without actually meaning to.

How often have you heard someone say "time got away from me"?

Well, according to this bloke's theory, they might be telling the truth.

His explanation of this odd phenomenon works like this:

It is a well known fact that the more you drink, the faster you move.

After about 16 beers (or eight double bourbons and Coke) you're moving at close to the speed of light.

According to Einstein's relativity theory, anybody moving at, or close to the speed of light, undergoes time dilation.

In other words, time for you in the pub passes slower than for an observer outside the pub.

Complicated calculations have shown that the pub becomes a type of time machine, so for every half-hour spent inside, something like two hours pass in the outside world.

A typical situation is: "Okay guys, it's eight o'clock. I'm gonna surprise the family and get home early!"

How many times have we all said that?

But the moment you step outside the pub, the time-travel effect is negated by negative radiation from the environment, leaving you saying, "What the hell. Why is it so quiet? Holy smoke, it's half past one in the morning! How did that happen?"

The answer, of course, is time dilation.

My anonymous email writer concluded by saying, "I've tried to explain this to outside observers, but so far nobody (except fellow time travellers) has been able or willing to understand the sound scientific basis of this phenomenon."

That's all - no return address or phone number and he hasn't responded to my emails.

It would be easy to write this bloke off as a fruit cake, but I know where he's coming from.

I came up with a similar theory several years ago to explain why time seems to distort when you go on holidays.

While it feels like your weeks off have passed in the blink of an eye, it often feels like just a few days to your workmates.

Or, if you've had a really good break, you can feel like you've been off work for a month, but your colleagues will greet your return to the office with "are you back already?"

It was a piece of inspired thinking and one of my workmates later said, "I'm not sure if it's the work of a true genius or an idiot."

He promised to get back to me when he'd decided which.

He never did.

Maybe he simply ran out of time.

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