Could time be running out?

The potential crisis that trumps them all is the probability that time will stop.

Even worse is the related possibility that time will reverse.

Among the great mysteries of life is that of time. Some see it as a dimension like width, height and depth. Many scientists, particularly physicists, see the phenomenon with much more complexity.

Everyone agrees that time travels in one direction. Time travel only can be found in fiction. The real danger is that time will begin to slow down or stop. The idea of a perpetual motion machine also is fiction, so there is no reason why time should continue forever.

As far as humans are concerned, time started with the big bang when a tiny speck exploded in the many galaxies, stars and planets that we now know. Theoretically, the universe still is expanding. But can this continue forever? What happens when this expansion reverses?

A minority of academics are deep at work trying to answer some of these questions. Much of the current work is at the subatomic level based on quantum theories.

Still, we all know that time can be manipulated. Science fictions draws on this fact to show people traveling in space returning to earth in the distant future. That’s because we know that time is relative. Even NASA computed that astronauts experience a slight slowdown in time as they circle the earth at high speeds.

So if time slows down, is there not a likelihood that it could stop?

Modern researchers talks about the arrow of time, usually assumed to travel in one direction. Other cultures are not so emphatic. The Mayans and others see time more as a series of cycles. A big fuss erupted with literary speculation that the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world in 2012. A later book said 2019. Maybe the authors were on the right track.

Some coupled the Mayan calendar with a prediction that a mysterious planet would collide and destroy earth at a certain date.

Celestial collisions are far different than a general slowdown, cessation or reversal of time itself. In fact, a reversal may have already happened. The universe is so vast that NASA estimates that light from the farthest reaches takes 18 billion years to reach earth. For all we know, the universe has been closing in on us for billions of years. We just do not know this.

Humans generally accept things the way they are as the way they always have been. The age of humans is but a blip on the geological record. The current Rocky Mountains, for example, are at least the second appearance. Geologists say the first Rockies emerged about 300 million years ago but were eroded by natural forces. The current Rockies, the magnificent tourist attraction, developed from 40 to 80 million years ago.

Certain the threat of a cessation of time dwarfs all other crises, be they epidemics, climate changes, war or misuse of pronouns. Clearly the United Nations must impanel experts to address and devise solutions to this catastrophe.

Brodell is a long-time daily newspaper owner, editor and reporter as well as a tenured college professor. Email him at jbrodell@jamesbrodell.com