Monday, 15 September 2008

Minimum Longevity Requirement

I quite like that phrase. It was used by a friend to congratulate me on my seventieth birthday, which is today.

Yet I have reservations about anniversaries, especially after reading a remarkably lucid book about relativity, described on the appropriate page of my website. From a relativistic point of view it is impossible to disentangle space and time in any way that accords with the experiences of all observers, so it is hard even to define an anniversary on a cosmic scale, and even from the blinkered point of view of an earth bound human anniversaries are rather odd.

We say 'this is the very same day on which I was born, Krakatoa irrupted/..' but there isn't much the same about the two days except that we say they are the same because we give today the same date label as the earlier day. The earth will be roughly, but not precisely at the same stage of it's orbit, but the moon will probably be in quite a different phase, and anywhere but the earth the similarity between the two days would seem most tenuous.

There's something to be said for commemorating happy or striking events from time to time, and, it helps to have a simple rule saying when we do that, especially when a lot of people are likely to be involved. An anniversary does that very well, but there is no need to insist on hitting precisely the same date every time.

I shall be celebrating my satisfaction of the MLR three times, and the first of the celebrations will indeed take place this evening, but that is mainly because I don't like cooking on Mondays when the meat and fish market is closed, and so welcome an excuse to eat out.

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