In the history of discovery, most discoverers struggled to recognize their discovery. The value of Gregor Mendel’s famous pea experiments were only recognized decades after his death. Without the theory of evolution—or the concept of heredity or DNA—Mendel had little idea what, exactly, he had uncovered. When Galileo viewed Saturn’s rings (the first person to do so) he incorrectly guessed that they were moons.
One of the many paradoxes of time is that it doesn’t flow by smoothly. Although we agree that time is objective—we don’t set our clocks arbitrarily after all—it feels as if it ebbs and flows with our mood. Why is it that an hour delay at the airport is so painful while an hour socializing with friends whooshes past so quickly? Alas, time is one of those enduring subjects that have preoccupied the minds of scholars for millennia. “What, then, is time?” Augustine asked in 4th century A.D. “I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled.”