Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time Dilation

They say time flies when we're having fun. What they don't always mention is the observed difference of elapsed time between two events measured by observers moving relative to each other or differently situated from gravitational masses. Which is the only explanation of what happened to me yesterday.

Sneaking a flight in during a short window always seems like a good plan. But we need to remember that it's not easy to land just as things are getting good, or just as our buddies are showing up! Yesterday, the conditions didn't look good until the afternoon, leaving me an hour of flying time before errands and kid pickups. In hindsight, I guess that was unrealistic - I don't think I've managed that short of a flying day in years.

And perhaps I knew as I hiked up that my errands might be shortchanged if my flight was going well. Also, I was trying to be helpful to visitors Scott and Robin, but I think I ended up giving them the quickest and most minimal site intro ever. "Welcome to north launch. Work the rhino horn, but head to the LZ if you're not getting up." Happily, they were able to read between the lines of my cryptic advice, and they both ended up having nice long and high soaring flights.

Conditions were a bit northeasterly, so naturally I was hoping to make the most of my limited time by speeding across the bay for a tour of Kualoa. The clouds were sparse and quite high. I was able to bench up to a rarefied 2,800 feet over Puu Piei, although it did take quite a while, and from there I took a now familiar direct line through the headwind and across to the Crouching Lion. But the usual approach failed! I lost everything on the way. At this point I probably should have landed. But I didn't even check the time.

Instead, I retreated, and climbed over the front again, benched up in the back again, and then this time, I followed a lifty line over the ridge and out front, before turning to cross on a line that would quarter the headwind. I made it with plenty of height, and as I pulled in over there, I realized it had taken me AN HOUR AND A HALF to get there!

At this point I had burned through at least half of my errand time. Whoops. I sped to Kualoa and back at light speed, or at least half bar, snapping some shots of the landscapes and cloudscapes on the way, just as the sun was beginning to put on its afternoon show. I buzzed back to make a pass over launch, to find zillions of monkeys hiking and launching, and it was all I could do to force myself down at that point. I bunched up my gear and shoved it in my car, blasting away at light speed, or at least as close as I could get with all the slowpokes in front of me, in hopes of completing even just one errand before I had to pick up Logan. But of course I have to blame the effect of time dilation. Dorothy, I tried to get those errands done, but that pesky Einstein threw a wrench into my plans!

Later I heard that Doug and Bill crossed to Kualoa and back, and Harvey crossed to work the bowl over the Crouching Lion. Others enjoyed sweet soaring flights in the beautiful afternoon light. Another beautiful day, another 10 pilots at Kahana, which is pretty great for a weekday. Roll call: Scot, me, Vancouver Scott, SD Robin, Doug, Jim, Chili, Bill, Harvey, and Ray.


Thom said...

Rats another day working, my non-jobber status is going down the tubes.

Glad you guys got some and thanks for the log Alex, I will be looking back at these someday as the ones that got away.

Alex said...

This story didn't fully form in my mind until just now, so I had to go back in time to revise and rename it. I hate to think what that's going to do to my temporal frame of reference. Even now there could be several instances of me coexisting in this continuum. Maybe I can put one of me to work on my programming, send another of me to do errands, and leave the the rest of me free to dilate time at cloudbase.

Duck said...

Your temporal frame of reference will remain intact, as Einstein related, everything is relative to the observers frame of reference. The Alex who was flying would only have aged mere minutes, while the Alex on Earth would have aged at least an hour and a half. Clasic example of near light speed time dialation effects...

And, you threw in some string theory about mutiverse duplicity and covered your quantum theory because you never know which one of you actually crossed the bay. Did YOU cross the bay or was it just the echo of your other self imprinting on the you who was running errands or the you who was programming?

It's like a thought experiment mobius strip...the only way to ensure that you crossed the bay is to do it again, multiple times, that way the odds are at least in YOUR favor.