What do we mean by “at this moment”?

At this moment there must be some particular event happening at Alpha Centauri, hence there cannot really be a whopping 8 year lack of definition?

If you say at the phone “At this moment there is a party at Cape Canaveral” I, staying at the end of the line in Germany, would be able to get the reference of your indication. This is because both sites use the same clock, i.e. the earth rotation (divided into handy units), and the phone’s signal takes about 50 milliseconds to reach Frankfurt.

Now, assume to be on the phone, telling me the pretty same story “At this moment there is a party at Proxima B”. The Planet Pb orbiting Proxima Centauri is about 4.2 light years away from us. As the signal is travelling with speed of light the words “at the moment” refers to about “Now_@_receiving minus 4.2 light years” which is pretty obvious the same story.

If I asked myself “Now, what is happening at Cape Canaveral?” I really would not think about the time needed to get my mind sent to that place!

My mind is processing thoughts instantaneously. 

Ping www.cityofcapecanaveral.org needs 129ms.

Ping www.cityoflondon.org needs 28ms.

Ping www.uni-frankdurt.de needs 13ms.

If I think of “Now” the distance to the place of interest has no impact at all.

The pitfall of the people when thinking about time is obviously that they

  • identify the physical signaling time
  • with the notion of time.

This is my guess when reading “at this moment” implies to have an “8 year lack of definition”.

By principle, if time (as a concept) would need time (as to be needed for signaling), the time itself can give no reference without requesting the context as input.

Imagine You to ask at the ticket counter “What time is it, Sir?”. Then You’ll see a grim face and hear “Where do you want to go, Sir?”

You give back “That does not have any impact, Sir!” and then you will hear “Oh, it has, it has significance! If You want a ride to Frankfurt, you will get “Minus fifty” and if you want a ride to London, I have to indicate “Minus forty”.

“Frustrating answers!”, you would probably mutter while leaving the station because you had to realize that you were told the price and not the time. “Have a nice day, Sir!” you hear in the distance while You are thinking “Have a nice time” would have performed better.


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