Time disturbs – basic research

By Sarah Azoubel and Bia Guimarães

And it looks like he’s worse than ever

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After almost a year of researching viruses, mosquitoes and diseases for the series “Epidemia”, which started in March of this year in collaboration with Folha, we had to decide which way to podcast in the next season of 37 Graus that we should try to decipher the world around us. How can you talk about science without tackling the pandemic head on? What other topic can be so relevant in this strange year? And above all: what stories can we tell without leaving the house?

At that point we talked about the weather. On the one hand, it is as if we are living on the same day again and again and the hours and weeks are merging into an amorphous mass. On the other hand, we feel like a decade has passed since March.

This jumble of calendars and clocks only increased our curiosity and discomfort because thinking about time is not comfortable at all. Try it. What is the face of time? How much longer do you have? What will the world be like in a hundred years? And in a thousand? Why does the past sometimes seem as mysterious as the future?

We decided to dive into this discomfort in the new season. We also found the solution to one of our current problems: if we can’t travel around, nothing prevents us from traveling in time.

By placing time at the center of our attention, we discover stories of cities, people, animals, and ideas that challenged or challenged them. In science we find great questions that inhabit the changing realm between what we already know, what we don’t yet, and what really doesn’t seem to be decipherable.

The very concept of time has seen revolutions. Until the beginning of the 20th century, physics treated it as something absolute and uniform, regardless of who measured it. Albert Einstein, with his theories of relativity, shook these pillars by suggesting that time could pass faster or slower depending on the speed of whoever measured it or where this clock was in the universe, since it would – actually space-time Be exposed to deformation.

Part of Einstein’s theory was only proven thanks to Heaven in Sobral, Ceará, on a particular morning in May 1919. This was the city that made time turn for two different reasons (which you can discover on the podcast). And we wanted to transport our audience there to see the five minutes that changed everything.

On the way to understanding time, we also come to inquiries into how we perceive it. For us it manifests as a line that propels us into the future, but the human brain has the incredible ability to travel on that line. Without leaving the place, we visit memories and make projections for the future. Are we the only animals with this ability? To what extent can we really imagine the future and make decisions for tomorrow?

In search of these answers, we infiltrated the monkeys’ heads and then ended up in a safe that contained a piece of the future, in a scenario that looked more like science fiction than reality.

This season, we don’t leave our home with tape recorders like we normally would. But we went from the atom to the telescope, from the neurons to the stage of an opera, from the Serra da Capivara to Norway, from the fossil to immortality. Hopefully the listeners who have been with us for a few months could feel transported to other times and spaces in this bizarre moment.

As we expected, the trip didn’t end with answers, but with more questions. After all, we’re talking about time. You can’t expect absolute answers from him. We left feeling that in some ways it was indecipherable. And that is perhaps its great charm. If he were a character, time would surely mock humanity’s efforts to understand him.

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Sarah Azoubel and Bia Guimarães are the creators of 37 Graus podcast, which can be heard on any podcast application or on the program’s website.

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