Special Relativity and the Creative Mind (Repost)

Fast as Light Mind

Has this happened to you?  You sit down to do something creative, like write a sonnet or a sonata.  After a couple of minutes the whole house goes dark.  You’re suddenly hungry though you had just snacked.  Looking up you find somebody has played with the clocks and five hours have gone by.

Has that happened to you?  It happens to me all of the time.

I’ve read many theories about this.  Silly things like when we aren’t paying attention to our inner clock, ignoring the counter our brain uses to keep track of time, time periods seem much shorter.  Yeah, right.  Or how about the theory that the more we think about time the slower it seems to go and the more enjoyment we have outside of a time reference the quicker it goes.  This still doesn’t explain my two minutes for every five hours of “normal” time.

Looking at that last sentence you would not be wrong to ask, “Normal to whom?”  OK, put away your grammar books, I know you’re checking to see if it really is wrong to ask it like that.  The point is we need to look at the frame of reference.  My frame of reference where two minutes has elapsed is just as valid as the clock’s frame of reference where, supposedly, five hours have gone by.

The validity of every frame of reference – where have you heard that phrase before?  Special Relativity, of course.

The whole idea that there is no master frame of reference more valid than any others is the cornerstone of Special Relativity.  There is no God Clock ticking out the absolute time of the Universe.  To somebody in a galaxy three billion light years away they are the ones at rest and it us who are moving away at 80% of the speed light.  There is no absolute, no center.  For all non-accelerating bodies physics works equally well.

One of the most famous consequences of this equality of reference points is the near speed of light travel ‘paradox’.  Let’s say I left your side, popped into a handy starship and accelerated to near-light speeds.  I travel to a star 10 light years away and come back.  I then decelerate back to your speed and come stand beside you.  I will find you’ve aged over 20 years while only a month or so has passed for me.  The transformation equations are easy and make sense if you build them up with the idea physics works for every reference frame.

I know, right now half of you are looking at your watches saying, “Sure, this is all elementary school physics.  Can we get on with it?” while the other half are looking at the page with blank stares saying, “I created a symphony at four, an award winning novel at eight but couldn’t pass algebra.  What’s this have to do with me?”  OK, so here is the point: a creative brain is moving at near light speeds.

I can hear you say, “Right, sure, I believe you,” but it’s true.  Special Relativity has been verified more stringently than most physical ‘theories’ or ‘laws’.  Engineers use the transformation equations every day in communications, satellites and large accelerators.  It’s called a theory but is almost universally accepted.

Oh, it isn’t Special Relativity you are worried about but my application of it.  Well, let’s take a look.

Let’s say when I hop in my spaceship I only go out two and half light-hours (still a huge distance), turn around and come back.  In this scenario you see me as being gone for five hours.  You watched me the whole time and I made that five hour trip without any tricks.  To me, on the other hand, only two minutes went by (pretend I actually did the math).  My frame of reference is equally valid and wouldn’t have seemed strange except that I came back and stood beside you.

When I sit down at my studio the world becomes a blur around me.  You still see me sitting there, seemingly almost frozen, for the full duration.  In my frame of reference only a couple of minutes have elapsed.  The analogy is perfect.  The only logical conclusion is what I stated above: the creative brain is working at speeds approaching that of light.  As my mind approaches the speed of light time slows down for me, in the frame of reference to my conscious mind.

So the next time you are sitting at your desk with a blank stare on your face and your significant other says, “Stop daydreaming and do something useful, like the dishes or taking out the trash,” you can answer, “Don’t bother me.  My mind is traveling light speed to figure out how my character Johnny can have been both at University in Iowa four years ago as I said in the first chapter but at the same time working on a trawler in Indonesia as he must have been for this plot point to work.”  You now have proof to back this up.  Proof from no other than Einstein himself.


Although I’m no longer sick, I haven’t caught up from when I was.  Sorry, here is another re-post.  It’s pretty old so you might have missed it.

10 thoughts on “Special Relativity and the Creative Mind (Repost)

  1. K Sean Proudler

    The easy way to determine whether or not you understand Special Relativity, is whether or not you can see its entirety within your mind, as a single but complete image. This is possible only if your mind has wrapped around its entirety.

    Meanwhile, just as you have pointed out, many folk say things such as, “Sure, this is all elementary school physics. Can we get on with it?”. But in actual fact they do not know of its entirety and thus see neither the cause behind it, nor do they see the absolute foundation of which it resides within. All they do fully know, is how to apply special relativity in practical situations.

    Others, when also exposed to Special Relativity, are simply stupefied, and thus they quickly come to a halt. These folk are usually attempting to acquire a complete understanding of Special Relativity rather than just learn how to put it to practical use.

    Thus, since it is taught in schools in a manner that applies to you putting it to practical use only, its entirety is therefore not being exposed. Since this does not relate to an acquiring of a full understanding, these others encounter rapid confusion and thus assume that this is entirely due to the measure of complication.

    However, just about anyone can discover it independently, yet they are being told both directly and indirectly that this is not the case at all. All you have to do is think in simple steps, and think logically.

    I threw a video collection together to show just how easy it is to do. See http://goo.gl/fz4R0I ( 1hr 39min Total ).


  2. Pingback: Creativity and Time, Part 2 | Trent's World (the Blog)

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I’ve talked to several creative types and I think this happens to all of us. Sometimes I think that unless I shut out the world and go into my own little zone I’ll never accomplish anything.


  3. alienorajt

    Time is a human construct; we have created it to explain the inexplicable – and our sense of losing it is because we tend to treat it as if it were something material. You may well have travelled to far-distant lands, other centuries, during those five hours, Trent; in fact, as a creative man, you probably did!
    Great post: thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Ah, I visited far off lands, galaxies and universes as myself and various other people. Past present and future became one and.. Huh, what was I talking about there? Oh yes, time. I can often ignore the passage of time, but unfortunately it doesn’t return the favor, that is, for some reason the passage of time doesn’t ignore me. Thanks Ali. Being creative yourself I’m sure you often have those instances where you and Time seem out of synch.


  4. T. Gene Davis

    If you have two identical twins, and one becomes a writer while the other becomes a doctor, it seems obvious that the twin that writes all his life will outlive the twin that becomes a doctor, because of this special case of relativity.



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