2 architectural suggestions for stopping time

While not ‘architectural,’ really – though I’m reminded of Norman Foster’s assertion that the 747 airplane is the single most important architectural design of the 20th century (giving a whole new perspective to September 11th: it was an architectural competition, and the skyscraper lost) – two architectural suggestions for stopping time are as follows:
1) Build a solar-powered airplane and fly it at exactly the speed of the rotation of the earth, against the earth’s rotation. Do this at high-noon, over the equator. The plane will always be in the glow of the sun, never leaving its precise and comfortable position at high-noon. Having become a geostationary structure in a low-atmosphere orbit, the airplane, barring mechanical failure, will never advance forward in time. It will always be noon, technically on the same day. It will be architecture that’s seceded from the aging of the universe.
2) Build a box of perfectly reflective internal surfaces. Light will never be absorbed or dissipated, but endlessly recycled and returned through the box’s mirrored interior. Whatever moment it captures – that is, whatever was happening when the box was sealed: the event, or location, that bounced its reflective way into the box’s hermetic closure – will remain in a constant state of cross-reflection, never dissipating or fading. The image, a kind of 3-dimensional holograph of the event it refers to, can then be sent floating outward from the earth, drifting through space, reflecting, never aging, one moment stuttering through itself over and over again till universal heat-death does us in.
And in both cases – within those two spatial instances, those two pieces of ‘architecture’ – time will effectively be stopped.
(Or so he tells himself.)

4 thoughts on “2 architectural suggestions for stopping time”

  1. Neither of these examples makes any sense at all. In the first instance, at the point the airplane crosses over the international date line, it will hop into tomorrow. Although 747s do not fly at exactly the speed you’re referring to, they do this all the time, several times a day, and if you’re a passenger on one, from say Los Angeles to Sydney, you lose a complete day when you cross that line.

    In the case of your second example, leaving aside the issue that the reflected image can never be ‘captured’ without the passage of time being measurable, the inside of the box itself will either be (a) dark, or (b) still reflecting the very thinnest possible sliver of light from the instant before the box was closed. Zeno’s paradox comes into play here (how many instants are there before the box closes?) but no matter. I’d love to see this perfectly reflective material you’re hypothesizing.

  2. Actually, I was thinking about this. It could be done hypothetically (with a few liberties taken). After all, since light has a finite speed, a pulse of light is extended in space as well as time. So you could capture a short (temporally and spatially) pulse of light from a reflected image and let it bounce around inside this little box. You’d just have to make it so that the light didn’t get reflected out of the box before it could be closed. This is easy enough. Just build a really big box or fill the box with some material with an enormous index of refraction such that light moved very slowly through it. The only real problem left is the dissipation of energy that would inevitably take place via inelastic photon scattering (Raman effect) off the walls and the material in the box. It wouldn’t exactly be like what you wrote, but it’s an intriguing way to think about sending information, as long as the person on the receiving end can decode the signal after all of its reflections and self-interferences.

  3. #3 — Slow glass, from The Light of Other Days:

    …the commercial success of slow glass was founded on the fact that having a scenedow was the exact emotional equivalent of owning land. The meanest cave dweller could look out on misty parks—and who was to say they weren’t his? A man who really owns tailored gardens and estates doesn’t spend his time proving his ownership by crawling on his ground, feeling, smelling, tasting it. All he receives from the land are light patterns, and with scenedows those patterns could be taken into coal mines, submarines, prison cells.

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