The following story was told to me and it could be true.

An American tourist visited an English country village and went to the church. He met with a church warden outside.

‘What a magnificent clock tower you have,’ said the American. ‘Why is your clock reading more than an hour fast?’

‘Is it? That can’t be right. They fire the cannon at the castle at noon. The clock is a bit worn and dodgy, so I reset it when I hear the cannon. It’s a hard climb up the tower, so I don’t do it every day. It’s only a minute or two out at the most. Must be something wrong with your watch, my friend. None of the villagers have said anything to me.’

Next the American walked up the hill to the castle. On the battlements he spoke with a retainer who doubled as bombardier. 

‘I’ll be firing the cannon soon,’ he said. ‘I fire it every day, when I hear the church clock strike 12. We’ve been doing that here for 600 years.’

‘Is that right,’ said the American.

’There’s the clock now,’ he said. 

The clock struck 12. After the twelfth stroke, there was a delay of several minutes while he completed loading and firing the cannon.

‘There we are,’ he said, as the percussion rang in their ears. ‘Noon near enough.’

‘That explains it,’ the American mused. ‘Agreement between the users of measurement systems is assumed, when small errors can creep in and compound. Sometimes coincidence of amounts is objective but in many situations they are open to abuse, either malign or accidental. Here it is more like a conspiracy of neglect between mutually supportive authorities.’

‘The American could assume that his time while he is in the village is ‘dilated’. The church and castle have their own time, unconsciously proceeding at a pace slower than their surroundings. He could remove his watch and enjoy the more leisurely pace of life.

The possibility of disparities between the speed of light and time from timepieces, due to both depending on electromagnetic transmission that could vary in speed, has the same problem with observer and instrument calibration errors. My novel; Time is Gold, to be published in November 2020. It explores meanings of time in a story about a marathon runner.


About martinknox

Materially minimalist; gastronomically prefer food I cook; biologically an unattached male survivor; economically independent; sociologically a learner and teacher of science; psychologically selfaltruistic; anthropologically West Country English tenant farmer; religiously variable; ethically case by case; philosophically a sceptical Popperian.

Posted on October 22, 2020, in Time dilation, Time is Gold and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on TIME CALIBRATION STORY.

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