The sun also arises, and the sun goes down,
And hastens to the place where it arose.
The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
All rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
Ecclesiastes 1: 5 – 7
Why Patterns are Essential to Knowledge
Patterns are rather amazing things. We depend on patterns to help us make sense of the universe. For example, we see that the sun eventually disappears from our sight within a twenty-four hour period, and that the sky grows dark. However, the disappearance of the sun does not cause us to panic because we know that it will eventually reappear in the sky, bringing light to our world. We know this because this is the pattern we have observed for millennia. Picture it otherwise. Can you imagine what the world–our lives–would be like if this phenomenon happened at random, unpredictable intervals? This pattern is one of the kindnesses of the universe.
Why Time is Essential to Patterns
Time allows a pattern to be identified. We measure the length of intervals during which things remain the same, when they change, and how long the change lasts until it is replaced by another change. When the changes repeat themselves at regular intervals, they reveal a pattern. Because time is so intimately related to patterns, I find the length of time intervals of particular interest.
Why Measurement is Essential to Time
If a time interval is too short or too long, the pattern–if it exists–may remain undetected. Take, for example, the pattern of a hummingbird’s wing beats. To the unaided eye, it looks like a blur. Only when time is artificially slowed can one see the wing beats’ pattern. On the other hand, suppose that low tides occurred only once every ten thousand years. How would we know that high tides existed? The Bible tells the story of a great flood that covered the earth. What if that was part of a pattern that happened over a long interval of time?
Why Perspective is Essential to Measurement
Sometimes I wonder if the things that appear linear or exponential are actually part of a sinusoidal pattern. It’s a possibility. Every curve looks like a line if you zoom in close enough. For years, humans believed the earth was flat because they were too close to the curve to see it. (I recently read that there are some people that still hold that belief.) But how does one know that the line which one sees is in reality a curve? How does one “zoom out?” How does one shorten a too-long time interval? What is needed is a “wrinkle in time.” Does such a thing exist? I got a hint of an answer after reading The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk, but that is for another post.