If I had a million billion 4 billion dollars

Do you watch TV? If you’re like me, you haven’t been in recent weeks. I mean the TV has been on, but it’s more like football (and everything else) is just on in between campaign ads. The deluge of “I’m-candidate-X-and-I-approved-this-message” and “here’s-the-real-story-behind-so-and-so” is entirely out of hand. How out of hand? How about $4 billion dollars’ worth of out of hand for a midterm election. I’m legitimately frightened about the 2016 election cycle, especially as the speculation on how much just a Clinton run would cost is already at $1.7 billion. Double that for the other candidate, and then throw in the regular congressional seats, a third of the senate seats, and the assorted governorships up for grabs, and you’ve got $8-$9 billion. Call me crazy, but I can find lots of other good uses for $9 billion.

Do you know what cesium is?4 Billion Dollars, Time Dilation, And Why I Keep A Baseball In My Car

I bet you don’t. But the precise length of one second is defined not as 1/86,400 of 24 hours, but as the time it takes a cesium atom to move 9,192,631,770 times between two particular energy levels, aka the natural resonance frequency of cesium. To accurately measure such a thing, scientists in Colorado that keep the US Atomic Clock recently made an improvement to the measurement of one second. The prior clock would drift one second every 100 million or so years, but the new one is accurate to the tune of one second of drift every 300 million. That’s a big deal for many reasons and this article tells you all you need (and don’t need) to know about why that is. It's definitely way more interesting that the absurdity of daylight savings time.

But it’s not so simple. Even one meter of altitude can cause differences in the measurement of time, let alone time measurements in Death Valley vs. on the top of Mount Everest, or in outer space vs. on earth. Read up on time dilation (particularly the “space flight” section) and start wondering how much you’d age traveling at the speed of light compared to aging back here on earth. It’ll give you something to consider before you go see Interstellar next weekend, and also brought a lively conversation to my "Intergalactic Judaism" class at Prozdor yesterday.

Keep a baseball in the car           

Not to throw at bad drivers, but to keep your hands off of your phone. It’s actually a simple thing to do; when there isn’t an iced coffee in my beverage holder there’s a baseball, so I can keep my left hand on the wheel and my right hand gripping the baseball and not my device. Along those lines I’ve taken to powering off my phone after 10:00 at night… although twitter is certainly still fair game on my tablet as the night gets later.

Because really, does anything good happen over email (or over text) after 10:00? Never. In fact, it’s always the opposite. 

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