This is in response to the post on Kei‘s blog, about the definition of “now”. It got a bit too long to be a comment, so I’m posting it here.

I was reading something about this recently, but unfortunately I can’t remember exactly where. So I’ll take a stab at remembering, and hope it isn’t too inaccurate.

I think that they were meaning that’s how long the period of measurements is before the brain classifies an event as “now”.

It would be nice to say that the “now” you’re experiencing is actually the last 8 seconds of what your senses have measured, but that’s not quite right. It’s a combination of what you have measured in the last couple of seconds, and also what comes in the few seconds after now – this is sort of integrated back into your memory at a later point. Hence where deja-vu comes from.

So it’s not the absolute, physical definition of “now” – it’s more the psychology of “now”, how your brain deals with an event happening “now”.

Hamas – slightly Discworldian?

Well, how’s this for unusual – I set this blog up intending to use it for pretty much pure physics-related things, I’ve even started writing a few bits that I intend putting up here, but my first proper post is going to be on politics. Mebbe it’s because I don’t know that much about politics, so I’m not worried that I’ll put something on here that’s not 100% correct.

Let’s start off with a little background. I’m a big Terry Pratchett fan – as most people in the UK probably are, considering how many copies of each book PTerry sells here. Within the Discworld, as the, erm, “planet” the books are based on is called, there’s a city called Anke-Morpork.  The politics within this system – once you get past the One Man, One Vote with the Patrician being the One Man with the One Vote thing – are pretty interesting. The Patrician’s taken the various riff-raff of the city – the thieves, assassins, lawyers, etc. – and has given them respectability, in the form of their own guilds, and responsibility for their actions – keeping thieving down to a certain level, for instance. And to all intents and purposes, it seems to work pretty well.

Flash forward to the present (Discworld’s set somewhere in medieval times), and reality (whatever that means). Palestine has just got a new Government, the Hamas – a fundamentalist organization who opposes peace in Israel. Before, they were pretty much a really big armed gang. Now, they’re going political – their gang probably will be integrated into the government as a whole, the police force, etc. Does anyone else see the parallels to the Discworld? If not, read this Time article, and think about it again.

Whether or not Hamas will become respectable, or if the country turns into a thuggish dictatorship making war on Israel, remains to be seen. Either way, it probably won’t affect me here in the UK – but I’m hoping for the former.


Welcome to my Blog! I wasn’t intending to ever create one (there’s rather a lot of them nowadays, so I didn’t see a huge amount of point) – but then I realised that it could be useful to have a repository for all the random thoughts I have occasionally. And why not have it publicly available at the same time, so all can enjoy the randomness? So here it is. Expect random thoughts to appear at some point in the (probably fairly near) future.