kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
[personal profile] kaberett
that I will be reading a paper about, say, the discovery of an element, or the physics governing which elements end up in which minerals - the sort of stuff that forms the basis of a literature, that informs all that comes after - and then I will remember it was written in 1860 or in 1937 and I will remember the context, will know what is about to happen, and all of a sudden I find I am dizzied and off-balance.

I think the historical vertigo gets me worst in this general setting precisely because I'm used to measuring time in millions or billions of years. Being abruptly reminded to take a timescale of decades seriously is... something of a perspective shift.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-06-13 12:37 pm (UTC)
quirkytizzy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quirkytizzy
Kind of a tangent, but I was thinking yesterday how the human mind just shies away from the idea of immortality, even as we are obsessed with the idea of never dying. I just can't make my brain hold onto the idea of time passing in thousands of years. A hundred, maybe two, sure, but anymore than that and my brain just sort of breaks.

So reading this is neat, because that means there is at least one person out there who CAN wrap their brain around chunks of time that long.

Are you a rock or earth scientist? (I don't know what those words for those things are.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-06-13 01:26 pm (UTC)
quirkytizzy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] quirkytizzy

Exactly! It's so hard for a person to stretch the concept of time back before humans even existed in any form at all. So I think it's especially magical and kind of...brave? somehow?....that some people CAN.

And geologist or Earth Scientist works very well from your description. I know some assholes who don't think our planet needs to be studied and it's upsetting. That sea water that you said affects the earth's crust composition - that's US (in a round about sort of way, but still.) We are the stuff of stars....and the sea.

Lord knows my brain can't do all the science stuff that goes with that. Thank god there are people who CAN, because how would we know the answers without you guys?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-06-13 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sorrillia
I am mostly just really confused that papers that old are ever relevant to you...I think I've read one chemistry paper from the 1930's ever that I cared about. Well, I didn't read it, I got a German visiting student to tell me the numbers I needed, because it was in German, but the idea of a physical chemistry paper from 1937 I care about is very weird, and one from 1860 is incomprehensible.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-06-13 06:03 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
That process usually works in reverse, as people are used to their timelines existing in decades and then have to confront the reality of billions of years of existence without humanity, our even themselves. Either way, it causes disruption.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-06-14 03:00 pm (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
I get that feeling too, even though I don't usually measure time in millions or billions of years. I think in my case it's because my time sense is gluey and confusing anyway.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-06-15 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swaldman
Heh. My field is... younger. There's some fluids and hydraulics stuff from the 1920s, but computational numerical modelling requires computers, and only really started in the mid-70s.

(there was at least one attempt at weather modelling before electronic computers - it involved a lecture theatre full of mathematicians, where each person in their seat was one cell in the model grid. They did their calculations and passed them to the people to the sides of them, etc... it worked, but it was entirely useless, because it took more than 24 hours to predict the weather 24 hour ahead ;-))


kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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