I saw a contest the other day that was open to “Scientists Only”. Of course, they didn’t say what qualified the entry as a “scientist”. I wanted to enter the contest, but never got the time (pardon the pun). I consider myself a scientist of sorts and saw no reason why I shouldn’t. I used to teach science to 8th graders (my deep dark secret). To win the contest, the entrant had to explain ‘time’ to eleven-year-olds in 300 words or less. A daunting task, yes, but it caught my attention and piqued my interest. Three days later, I’m still pondering the problem so I thought I would give a go here on my blog.
Time is like the wind. Neither is visible; both can be felt. Wind is made of air; time is made of light. Both are the result of motion; neither can be moved. Light is the source of both wind and time. As light travels through space, time is created. As light warms the earth, wind is created. As air travels across the earth, we measure wind by the ‘time’ it takes for it to get from one place to another. As light travels across the surface of the earth, we calculate time by the distance it moves.
The measurement for time on earth is the distance around the earth. The measurements for time are based on the shape of the earth which can be imagined as a spinning basketball. Time is measured by dividing this ball into smaller and smaller sections. The ball has twenty-four sections called hours. Each hour has 60 sections called minutes. Each minute has 60 sections called seconds. As light reaching the ball from the sun travels across the surface of the ball, lighting up each of these sections one after another, we say time is passing in seconds, minutes and hours. We cannot see ‘time’, but we can see the earth changing from night to day as the light from the sun moves across the surface.
The line between night and day as seen in this image moves around the earth one time in 24 hours completing one day.
That explanation is 244 words long. Does it explain time? Or not? Or what?