Wednesday, January 9, 2008

279)No. 5, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: Speeding angels; the relativity of time; everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

39)No. 5, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: Speeding angels; the relativity of time; everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

Ayats(Signs) in the Universe series, no. 5Speeding angels; the relativity of time; everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

Quran, Chapter70 verse 4: The angels and the spirit ascend to Him in a day, the measure of which is fifty thousand years.

Quran, Chapter 32, verses 5-6: He rules all affairs from the heavens to the earth. Then they all go back up to him in one day, whose measure is a thousand years by your reckoning...

July 2006. In the above Quranic verses, one interpretation of them is that angels are non-material created beings that are not bound by the rational laws of the material universe. What would take a material being 1000 or 50,000 years of time to travel to a particular location would take an angel a mere 1 day. This is a literal interpretation and I am sure that there are allegorical interpretations of these verses as well.

In the material universe, the fastest speed that anything can travel at is the speed of light, which is 300,000 kilometers per second. The sun is 150 million km from earth and thus it takes light from the sun 8.3 minutes to reach the earth. That is pretty fast but obviously non-material beings like angels travel much faster than the speed of light if one were to take the above verses literally.

The point is that if angels are created beings that do not follow the natural laws of the material universe, surely the Imam has the option of choosing whether to be bound by those material natural laws or not.

This brings me to the anecdote I quoted about the absoluteless of time. Time has been shown not to be the absolute phenomenon that people think it is. In fact, during the early 20th century(1905 to be exact), time was shown to be a relative dimension of the material universe. This was the basis of Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity, which showed that if a three-dimensional material object travels at speeds approaching the speed of light, time, which is the fourth dimension in that scenario, starts to dilate or slow down. Its a very difficult concept to undersatand but a simpler analogy might help: If we take two identical twins(of the same age obviously) and leave one twin on earth and send the other twin in a spaceship to a distant galaxy, then send the spaceship at speeds close to the speed of light, time will slow down and the twin in the spaceship will age slower than his brother on earth. If he later returns to earth, he will be younger than his identical twin. Time is therefore a relative phenomenon, it being part of Allah's creation, just like space.

The most elegant scientific proof of Einstein's special theory of relativity came with the use of radioactive nuclei of atoms. In these types of atoms, radioactive decay is very precise in terms of the loss of mass and the time for a radioactive atom to decay to half its mass(known as its half-life). That is why world time is kept according to atomic clocks. They are the most precise in measurement.

Scientists went to the top of a tall mountain and, through a specially designed tube, first sent radioactive nuclei shooting down the tube at speeds much less than the speed of light. When they collected the nuclei at the bottom, they found that the half-life of the radioactive atoms had not changed. However, when they shot the nuclei down the tube at speeds close to the speed of light, they found that the half-life of the radioactive nuclei were prolonged. Time had slowed down for these particular samples at close to the speed of light and so it took longer than expected for the mass of the sample to decay by half.

So, in the anecdote I quoted(elesewhere) where the Imam was clearly late by the clock for an important meeting, but, when he arrived at the meeting, he was perfectly on time, the relativity of time is part of the law of the rational, natural universe and one need not consider the anecdote necessarily a miracle outside that law.

Easy Nash aka easynash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)