Barry Lynn
Intersection of Science and Policy

Does Time (Or Is It Life) Stand Still?

Time Stands Still at the Kefar Etzion Cemetery (Barry Lynn)

The weather, like the times, are changing.  A few days ago, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, gave a rousing and heartfelt speech.  Just like the holocaust, he said, we should never forget October 7th, 2023 — the day HAMAS beheaded, mutilated, raped, and murdered our people.  The next day, just 24 or so hours later, he did forget and in the words of the Wall Street Journal, he “Slapped an Arms Embargo on Israel.”

Perhaps he is simply playing politics –trying his best to be reelected by appeasing  Dearborn Michigan (and Iran (who would be none too happy to see their investment in HAMAS go down the drain)).  Or, perhaps he truly believes that the cost in lives outweighs the benefits.  Yet, perhaps, if the State of Israel were truly allowed to win one of its many wars, there might actually be peace.  (The war with Hezbollah came to an abrupt end before Israel could win decisively.)

We can only hope the backlash against the Biden Administration will, at some time, change the policy.  In any case, the time grows near when Israelis — far too many of them — will be mourning their dead.  Though, Israeli Independence day to immediately follow may only strengthen our combined resolve to go into Rafah and end HAMAS once and for all.  While sometimes it may feel that we’re the 51st United State, we’re not, and we’re going to have to decide — if Mr. Biden won’t come here himself to free the hostages — to deal with HAMAS as we know we have to — to the end.

I’d like to speak about the issue of “time” a bit more, but for those wondering about our weather, high pressure moving eastward off of northern Africa will bring another hot day this Friday and then temperatures will spend many days next week on the chilly side, and a period of light rain will likely occur on Monday and Tuesday, both “Yom HaZikaron” and “Yom HaAtzmaut-hut.”  In fact, after trying to spell the last word in English, like it sounds in Hebrew, my wife said: “perhaps it’s time to be independent.”

Time has, to be honest, always befuddled me.  I know that we need it — and in fact the world (if not the Universe) needs it simply to know where and when (to meet, for example).  Yet, when the clocks change, I can’t tell if I am getting up an hour early or later, and when I go away, I don’t know whether it’s three in the morning or five in the morning (as the clock on the hotel wall chimes). This philosophical issue is very important to me — because I don’t know whether to pass through the following day very tired or refreshed after a good night’s sleep.

One can read all about time or its lack thereof in this interesting article in Scientific American: “Is Time an Illusion?”  But, if you think about it, time is not something you can really measure.  It’s not like the weight of an object or the height of a person, and when you say it takes 1/2 an hour to go from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv on the “fast” train,  what have you really done?  You’ve gone from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. I suppose, then, that time is our way of noticing that things have actually happened. Or,  life is what happens between the ticks of the clock.

The other day I was at the cemetery in Kfar Etzion, Gush Etzion.  I happened to glance over at the plot of graves — too fresh — for fallen soldiers. I saw a young woman — and she seemed to be standing still, just staring at one grave in particular, as if she could will time itself to reverse — just to see and speak with her brother (or was it husband?) again.

When I looked back, she was gone, and after some thought I went and took the picture above. I couldn’t help thinking: only the trees have the patience to stand and watch, while time has stopped for those that lie within.

We should only have good news.

About the Author
Dr. Barry Lynn has a PhD in Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology. He is a researcher/lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the CTO of Weather It Is, LTD, a weather forecasting and consulting company.
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