To Wonderland: Time Travel in Airplanes

To Wonderland... to Wonderland indeed.

I need to write. I'm leaving in less than a week for Europe and I'm buried in homework. My life has returned to normal in the last year since coming home, and I find returning to Wonderland both scary and exciting in the same regard. It's scary in that my post traumatic response to coming Stateside (I really, really missed my life in Belgium) might rear its ugly head again. Interestingly enough, what most people don't know, is if you successfully deal with PTSD something wonderful happens. You become stronger and better at dealing with all sorts of complicated things that individuals without this experience find difficult. In fact PTSD, is not so much a disease, but a process (a spectrum like time), like a scab on a wound, that when healed becomes a scar and scars are stronger than flesh. It's a rite of passage some never get the chance to overcome. The science of all of it is quite amazing, especially looking at things in the rear-view mirror. The struggle is a gift that makes us better as human beings.

For some people getting on a plane is merely a form of transportation. For some of us we recognize the altered state of sharing an aluminum tube with 250 strangers for nine hours, disconnected from the surface of the Earth as something extraordinary in the human experience. For this time (when you're on the plane), you're literally not on the planet, and even more scientifically interesting is you're not even sharing the same phenomenon of time as inhabitants on Earth. When I say Wonderland, I'm truly not stretching the imagination of what's really happening. Thanks to the Theory Relativity, the faster we go, the slower time moves. A plane moving at 750 mph is moving faster than people on the surface of Earth and therefore time within that aircraft moves at a slower rate than those on Earth. This time dilation expressed by the Lorentz Factor means if I were to set my watch before I get on the plane in North Carolina, by the time I land in Belgium the next morning, more time will have passed here on Earth than for me and my 250 new friends in our United Airlines 777-200 aircraft (we literally become time travelers). The Hafele-Keating experiments in 1971 actually tested such travel science truths in just such a manner, and were proven true.

Now lets take this one step forward, and while my previous comments suggest practical real science applied to airplane travel, consider the theoretical phenomenon of Tachyons. Tachyons are theoretical particles that travel faster than the speed of light. If a plane could travel at faster than the speed of light, you could actually land before you leave. You could technically text (or call) yourself to tell yourself that you arrived as your waiting to leave (talk about Déjà vu) The interesting part about Tachyons are that no one on Earth would actually see you approaching, but you'd be arriving and departing at the same time. For me, this trip back to Brussels is my Déjà vu, and with it becomes the opportunity of recognizing the end of this adventure before I leave. I suppose that's what this little journal entry is about: understanding the opportunity before me.

The worst phrase in the human language is someday I will. If you say this in front of me I translate this to "I'm too scared". Usually this is followed by the most annoying word: but. "Someday I will study abroad (or go such-and-such place) but, I don't have the money", or "but I couldn't go because I'd be away from my husband/wife/child etc.". Every-time someone puts travel, or their dreams off for another day because they believe someday they'll do it, remember, how your life is slipping away from you, and that time is literally being stolen from you (at a faster rate) because you're not one of the 250 people in my time-travel airplane to Wonderland.


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