An odd thing may occur to those who study time in a Buddhist context. How can time be one thing on earth and another in heaven [sagga, the celestial planes]?
- abstaining from the destruction of life
- abstaining from taking what is not given
- abstaining from sexual relations
- abstaining from false speech
- abstaining from intoxicants
- abstaining from over-eating
- abstaining from unsuitable entertainments and self adornment
- abstaining from the use of high and luxurious beds]
"For the Tavatimsa devas [in the second celestial plane in Buddhist cosmology, which means the "Heaven of the Thirty-three"] a single day and night is equivilant to 100 human years.... The lifespan of the Tavatimsa devas is a 1,000 such celestial years....
"For the Yama devas [space dwelling] a single day and night is equivilant to 200 human years.... The lifespan of the Yama devas is 2,000 such celestial years....
"For the Tusita ["contented"] devas, a single day and night is equivilant to 400 human years.... The lifespan of the Tusita devas is 4,000 such celestial years....
"For the devas who delight in creating [Nimmarati], a single day and night is equivilant to 800 human years.... The lifespan of the devas who delight in creating is 8,000 such celestial years....
"For the devas who wield power over others' creations [Paranimita-vasavatti] a single day and night is equivilant to 1,600 human years; 30 such days make up a month and 12 such months make up a year. The lifespan of the devas who wield power over others' creations is 16,000 such celestial years.
"It is possible, [monastics], that if some man or woman here observes the [moon day observance] complete in these eight factors, with the breakup of the body, after death, they will be reborn in the company of the devas who wield power over others' creations. It was with reference to this that I said human kingship is poor compared to divine happiness" (AN 8:41; IV 248-51).
Special relativity came first and is based on the speed of light being constant for everyone. That may seem simple enough, but it has far-reaching consequences.
Einstein came to this conclusion in 1905 after experimental evidence showed that the speed of light didn't change as the Earth swung around the Sun.
This result was surprising to physicists because the speed of most other things does depend on what direction the observer is moving. If you drive your car alongside a railroad track, a train coming at you will seem to be moving much faster than if you turned around and followed it in the same direction.
Einstein said that all observers will measure the speed of light to be 186,000 miles per second, no matter how fast and what direction they are moving.
This maxim prompted the comedian Stephen Wright to ask: "If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?"
The answer is the headlights turn on normally, but only from the perspective of someone inside the spaceship. For someone standing outside watching the ship fly by, the headlights do not appear to turn on: light comes out but it takes an eternity for the beams to get ahead of the spaceship.
These contradictory versions arise because rulers and clocks—the things that mark time and space—are not the same for different observers. If the speed of light is to be held constant as Einstein said, then time and space cannot be absolute; they must be subjective.
For instance, a 100-foot-long spaceship traveling at 99.99 percent the speed of light will appear one foot long to a stationary observer, but it will remain its normal length for those onboard.
Perhaps even weirder, time passes slower the faster one goes. If a twin rides in the speeding spaceship to some distant star and then comes back, she will be younger than her sister who stayed on Earth.
Mass, too, depends on speed. The faster an object moves, the more massive it becomes. In fact, no spaceship can ever reach 100 percent of the speed of light because its mass would grow to infinity.
This relationship between mass and speed is often expressed as a relationship between mass and energy: E=mc^2, where E is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light.
Einstein wasn't done upsetting our understanding of time and space. He went on to generalize his theory by including acceleration and found that this distorted the shape of time and space. More>>