This is an opinion piece.

A study released in 2010 out of a Colorado lab reportedly proved Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity when two ultra accurate clocks measured divergent times when placed at a height difference of just one foot. 

The higher clock ran approximately 1.14 billionths of a second faster than the lower one, ostensibly proving gravity’s effects on the flow of time even at such a slight variation. 

That means at a height of 1,877 feet, us folks on Sand Mountain age about 2,139 billionths of a second faster per year than other people at sea level, assuming the same rate per added foot of elevation. (Never mind the time difference between your feet and head).

Einstein was alleged to have once explained this phenomenon of time dilation by comparing it to touching a hot stove or spending time with a hot girl.

“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours,” he said. “That’s relativity.”

Whether or not he actually said it, most of us instinctively understand the sensation of time flying by in moments of excitement or stalling in hours of boredom. Particularly in 2020, a year that seems to have flown by while standing still.

It is at once hard to believe it’s already nearly November and yet feels like the year will never end. We’ve experienced enough big events to fill a decade in the truncated span of a few months, with no end to the madness in sight (depending on what happens with the election). 

For months, we’ve been sitting bareback on the red hot burners of coronavirus, riots, violence and politics. The daily news cycle goes by in an hour making it hard to keep up with what happened when. At the same time, COVID-19, though hardly a lady, has forced us to slow down and, in the best of cases, focus on the important things and spend more time with family.

It’s hard to imagine a future without masks or social distancing or one where each day doesn’t herald a new bombshell political crisis. Gone are the halcyon days of walking to your table at a restaurant without covering your face or watching sports free of political grandstanding.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

There are just over three weeks until Election Day. Like the gravity well of a black hole, everything is about, concerned with or related to the presidential election. Nothing escapes it. And the closer we get to the event horizon, the more time and light warp and distort our perspective on everything from masks to Marvel movies. 

Einstein also believed that time was an illusion; that the past, present and future exist simultaneously even though we experience it all sequentially. Real or not, we can be certain that a brighter future exists out there somewhere beyond COVID-19 and the election, if we can just keep our cool till then. 

Daniel Taylor is a staff writer for The Reporter. His email is daniel.taylor@sandmountainreporter.com.

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