the development of time
Virolution was an eye-opener. It provided a view at new theories in various branches of biology, mostly dealing with viruses, genetics, and evolution, explained in such a way that I didn’t feel that an advanced degree in microbiology was necessary. Its focus is the role of viruses in genetics, heredity, and evolution. What I found most encouraging was my own paradigm shift: viruses aren’t evil parasites. Such a judgement results from experience with viral illnesses, and fearing pandemics. Although those are certainly a part of our relationship with viruses, it is a narrow view.
In some instances, the relationship is mutualistic-symbiosis.Who’da thought?
In and among the interviews and revelations, the Virolution got me thinking about our individual, cultural, and evolutionary bodies, and how we have perceived time over the long haul. The essential elements are: the period of the Year, Lunar orbit, and Earth’s rotation; the development of light-sensing organs; our reproduction and gestation periods, and; our cultural perception of time.
The Earth’s rotation around its axis has been slowing down since its creation 4.5 billion years or so ago. Shortly after its creation, the Earth rotated once every 6 hours, four times faster than now.
- 4.5 billion years ago – it slowed to once every 10 hours
- 4.0 billion years ago – once every 13.5 hours
- 900 million years ago – once every 18.17 hours
- 400 million years ago – once every 22 hours
- 245 million years ago – once every 22.75 hours
- 100 million years ago – once every 23.5 hours
- today – once every 24 hours
- 225 million years hence – 25 hours
1 second is added to our year every 62,500 Years or so.
source: Introducing Biological Rhythms
- 3.8 billion years ago – simple cells
- 3.4 billion years ago – photosynthesis
- 1 billion years ago – multicellular life
- 600 million years ago – animals
- 500 million years ago – fish
- 475 million years ago – terrestrial plants
- 300 million years ago – reptiles
- 200 million years ago – mammals
- 150 million years ago – birds
The genus Homo developed some 2.4 million years ago, and Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago. As early as 3.4 billion years ago, with the development of photosynthesis, life on Earth entered into an intimate relationship with the Sun’s light (its heat is a given), one that remains fundamentally important to all living things.
The life cycles of the oceans are tied in part to the phases of the Moon (29.53 Days), in part due to tidal action (12.4 hours). The sexual cycles of a variety of marine species are tied to the Full Moon, such as the palolo worm (on which the Trobriand Islanders base their lunar calendar). On a particular Full Moon, the worms teem at the ocean’s surface in a frenzy of reproduction.
There’s little doubt that our behaviour is still tied to the cycles of the Moon, despite how much we have removed ourselves from its influence.
Pregnancy and birth are likewise tied to the Moon. Granted there is a great deal of variability from one individual to another, however, menstruation is linked to the New Moon, ovulation to the Full Moon. Regardless, we gauged pregnancy by estimating 9 lunar months (266 days), although modern estimates put it at 40 weeks (280 days), and scheduling C-sections is a step further away from this link.
Nevertheless, natural birth often takes place at the New or Full Moon.
Our mother’s tie to the timing of the Day, the Year, and the Moon is the medium in which we gestate in the watery darkness of the womb. Our first perception of time as individuals comes from our mothers, our gestation, and our emergence into the world at birth.
After our birth, our emergence into the world and first breath comes our education and acculturation. At some stage, we learn about the seasons, and the calendar or calendars in use. This is the final stage in our perception of time, beyond our evolution, beyond our gestation, or observation. We are tied to a particular notion of time, whether it be cyclical, such as the Chinese calendar, fractal, such as the Maya, or linear like the Gregorian.
There is also little doubt as too the fundamental role a calendar plays in one’s life. If you remain skeptical about this last point, suggest to someone they change their calendar, and see what reaction you get. Often, at least in my experience, it is equivalent to asking someone to change their language, their religion, or their hockey team. However, as it has become second nature, very seldom does anyone have a cogent argument. It is not an easy point of view to defend with logic, because it is so ingrained it would be like asking someone to change their internal organs.
Nevertheless, the fundamental timepieces in the longer view, the Earth’s rotation, the apparent motion of the Moon, the Sun, the Planets, and Stars are what we have in common. The particular ways in which we have chosen to organize these phenomena are key to our various traditions of cultural expression, and will continue for the foreseeable future.
theAbysmal Calendar is simply one more.
185 Days to Dec 21st 2012
- Last quarter moon marks direction of Earth’s orbital motion (earthsky.org)