measuring time off-Earth


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Profile MeltWreckage
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Message 676004 - Posted: 11 Nov 2007, 15:28:41 UTC
Last modified: 11 Nov 2007, 15:30:45 UTC

In the distant future, when we colonize off-world locations such as moons and planets, how will we measure time? Ignoring the practical implications, our 24-hour clock is much more than simply a convenient gauge by which we base our timetables --- it exists in tandem with our physical abilities as well. For example, the human (on average) can expend energy (whether work or play) for about 12 hours, before requiring an additional 12 hours of downtime/rest. These time blocks constitute the 24-hour clock.

Do you think these limitations have arisen because of The Sun / Earth's orbit -- or is it perhaps coincidental - a work/rest ability that will follow our species indefinitely (or at least until we evolve beyond our current form). Life is molded by its environment, so I'm inclined to latch onto the former.

If we colonize distant planets, will we slowly evolve to adhere to the "day/night" periods of the new worlds? For example, sleeping for 40 hour blocks, and then working non-stop for another 40 hours (assuming the new planet has an 80 hour day) ... Or will we create artificial environments that will replicate Earth's 24-hour cycle, regardless of where we end up?

I remember hearing about Leonardo da Vinci's self-imposed sleep patterns back in highschool. According to my history teacher, he'd sleep in one-hour shifts. One hour of work, and one hour of napping - throughout the 24-hour cycle. He had to sacrifice deep REM sleep, which produced disadvantages, but I guess he felt that this maximized his efficiency.

To rephrase my question, minus the rambling fluff:

Are humans forever linked to the 24-hour clock - being an innate part of our physiological makeup? Is the Time Cycle of Earth and Man forever united, and if so - how will we adapt to new time cycles when our Sun is no longer within arm's reach?


I'm just sharing some Sunday afternoon (oh, the irony!) thoughts... When I relax and drink my coffee, I contemplate such things.

have a great day, everybody!

warm regards,
Melt

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Profile Clyde C. Phillips, III
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Message 676093 - Posted: 11 Nov 2007, 19:35:12 UTC

Well, on Mars one could just go by Martian days. It would be easy to break them up into 24 Martian hours, each would be a little longer than an Earth hour. On the Moon it would be more difficult because each day there is almost a month. For sports events time conversion wouldn't matter because the lower gravity would make them easier to do and non-equivalent. It would be necessary to develop a conversion formula to tie extraterrestrial and terrestrial dates and times.
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Message 676773 - Posted: 12 Nov 2007, 20:38:13 UTC - in response to Message 676093.

Well, on Mars one could just go by Martian days. It would be easy to break them up into 24 Martian hours, each would be a little longer than an Earth hour. On the Moon it would be more difficult because each day there is almost a month. For sports events time conversion wouldn't matter because the lower gravity would make them easier to do and non-equivalent. It would be necessary to develop a conversion formula to tie extraterrestrial and terrestrial dates and times.

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Message 677565 - Posted: 14 Nov 2007, 6:14:03 UTC - in response to Message 676004.

Do you think these limitations have arisen because of The Sun / Earth's orbit -- or is it perhaps coincidental - a work/rest ability that will follow our species indefinitely (or at least until we evolve beyond our current form). Life is molded by its environment, so I'm inclined to latch onto the former.
...
If we colonize distant planets, will we slowly evolve to adhere to the "day/night" periods of the new worlds?

You nearly answered your own question... ;-)


For example, sleeping for 40 hour blocks, and then working non-stop for another 40 hours (assuming the new planet has an 80 hour day) ... Or will we create artificial environments that will replicate Earth's 24-hour cycle, regardless of where we end up?

I don't know about 40/80, but while we'll have places that set aside areas for a 12/24 cycle (or a 16/24), I personally see a 24/48- I've personally pulled all nighters on alternating nights in a week before.
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Message 678622 - Posted: 16 Nov 2007, 3:01:02 UTC - in response to Message 676004.
Last modified: 16 Nov 2007, 3:09:17 UTC

IAre humans forever linked to the 24-hour clock - being an innate part of our physiological makeup? Is the Time Cycle of Earth and Man forever united, and if so - how will we adapt to new time cycles when our Sun is no longer within arm's reach?


Interesting question. I'll ramble on it a bit. Like so many other things, it may be another one of those "Nature versus Nurture" questions. None of us will be around to know the answer, unfortunely...

Other things, involving "colonies", that come to mind:

- Even with technology, humans are going to have to simply have the guts before the first colony becomes firmly anchored. History has told us that losses were relatively light with explorers of the past, but losses with settlers following the explorers have been substantial. For humans to be able to colonize out into the cosmos (yep, very large time frames here), they are going to have to accept that many will be lost. There are going to be many Roanokes.

- Shorter time frame: after a few generations, a colony on Mars will likely "declare their independence" as "Martians". They will begin to develop their own culture and history. Their style of language will even begin to change. They will be in a clean environment since the only bacteria and viruses present will be those that the original settlers brought along, which means generations down the road won't have built up antibodies in their system to safely return to Earth. (Unless medicine gets really good by then, of course.)

- One of the big potentials for problems on the early colonies, I think, will be a brain drain. Their survival will depend on high technology. Will the small colonies be able to educate their generations of offspring effectively? Just because the kids are born on the colony doesn't mean all will be inspired, or even capable, of taking on the requirements.

- Eventually, as humans colonize outwards (positve thinking!), they will reach the point of no return. The Earth will simply just be something in their history books. It may even be mythology. They will have evolved into beings that are no longer Earthly-humans. They will be so far out that they couldn't return to Earth, even if they wanted to.

Just rambling...

Edit: All the above, of course, is positive thinking. I'm more inclined to believe that all life from Earth will become extinct before being able to expand outwards into the cosmos. Don't feel bad. This is probably the status quo all over the cosmos. All over the cosmos, life probably arises and falls in instants. We are just another one of the flashes.

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Message 678871 - Posted: 16 Nov 2007, 14:35:15 UTC
Last modified: 16 Nov 2007, 14:52:55 UTC

Without human involvement the nature or earth had its own timing cycles and everything. Therefore possibly within galactical phenomenons there could be many timing cycles can be observed and set as standards for more insightful future projects.

Yes it is likely that any first 1000 people settle on other planet will create their own standards thus results total independence. (even antarktid has own "currency")

If humans settle on earthly 48 hours cycle of other planet very possibly they will evolve into daily 24-30 hours of active living 15-18 hours of sleeping cycle within few centuries or millenniums (it would their centuries/millenniums :D ).
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Message 679195 - Posted: 17 Nov 2007, 1:55:41 UTC - in response to Message 676004.

I think the answer is in the question. We have evolved to the 24 hour cycle that suits our own planet. That in itself constitutes proof that we will in all probability evolve to whichever cycle best suits any future planets we may inhabit.

My first post, so greetings to all from beautiful Tasmania.


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Message 679234 - Posted: 17 Nov 2007, 3:21:28 UTC - in response to Message 679195.

I think the answer is in the question. We have evolved to the 24 hour cycle that suits our own planet. That in itself constitutes proof that we will in all probability evolve to whichever cycle best suits any future planets we may inhabit.

My first post, so greetings to all from beautiful Tasmania.



Welcome to SETI@Home and "Happy Crunching"! Greetings from North Carolina in the USA.

Yes I agree with you (and everyone else with this idea.) I think "we ourselves" would have a hard time with a new set of cycles, but our kids would have it easier, being exposed to the new conditions from birth. After a few generations they would be fully "acclimatized" and would have just as hard of a time living on Earth with it's 24 hr day/28 day lunar cycle.
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Profile Clyde C. Phillips, III
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Message 679547 - Posted: 17 Nov 2007, 19:02:18 UTC

I'd find it hard to believe that someone would stay in bed for 9 or 10 days then awake about 20 during the lunar day cycle. I think it'd be more practical to construct nearly lightproof bedrooms. It might be difficult to produce strong lights for the whole colony during the long lunar night but maybe solar cells, batteries or fuel cells, and LEDs would do it.
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Message 679939 - Posted: 18 Nov 2007, 1:36:29 UTC - in response to Message 679547.

I'd find it hard to believe that someone would stay in bed for 9 or 10 days then awake about 20 during the lunar day cycle. I think it'd be more practical to construct nearly lightproof bedrooms. It might be difficult to produce strong lights for the whole colony during the long lunar night but maybe solar cells, batteries or fuel cells, and LEDs would do it.


Who said anything about staying in bed because its dark? There are places on earth (Scandanavia etc) where it is dark/light for weeks on end yet I've never heard of the locals hibanating. The Daily cycle stays the same.
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Message 680022 - Posted: 18 Nov 2007, 3:28:12 UTC - in response to Message 679195.

I think the answer is in the question. We have evolved to the 24 hour cycle that suits our own planet. That in itself constitutes proof that we will in all probability evolve to whichever cycle best suits any future planets we may inhabit.

I disagree in general, because our ability to control our environment with technology (e.g. artificial lighting) means that individuals whose circadian cycles might seem most suited to a given length of ‘day’ would have no particular survival or reproductive advantage. That said, however, individual cycles are quite adaptable, and require daily ‘resetting’ to keep in synch with the 24-hour rhythm. ISTR that studies of subjects who lived in a cave for several weeks or months, being free to wake and sleep whenever they felt like it, found a tendency to settle into a cycle with a period of 25 to 27 hours. Exposure to a particular cycle of light and dark can drive the sleep and metabolic cycles, but if the period is too much longer or than a day, in most people the systems responsible are unable to adapt, resulting in a kind of permanent jet-lag. I imagine shorter periods would be less of a problem.

I’d expect humans to adapt very easily to the diurnal cycle of a planet like Mars, where the sol averages only three percent longer than on Earth. But on a planet like MeltWreckage’s, rotating in eighty hours, I can’t see a forty-on, forty-off regime ever developing. More likely would be a 26h40m cycle, perhaps alternating three shorter-sleep, longer-awake periods during the ‘day’ with three longer-sleep, shorter-awake during the ‘night’.

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