Written by Dr Farquar
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Topics: Time

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The length of an instant has just become shorter, according to scientists. Researchers in Austria and Germany measured the smallest time interval recorded, and found it lasted a ten million billionth of a second. It's about ten times shorter than the previous shortest measured interval, which lasted about one femtosecond or a million billionth of a second.

The scientists used pulses of laser light to watch an electron moving around inside an atom, distinguishing motion over periods as brief as 100 attoseconds. As an attosecond is a thousand million billionth of a second, the intervals recorded by the team are a ten million billionth of a second long.

A gap of 100 attoseconds is to a second what one second is to about 300 million years. Details of the study are published in the journal Nature.


Hang on a minute

These scientists that spend the taxpayers money on research to study the shortest time spell known, must already have too much of it on their hands as it is. I know time is precious but surely men don't have to measure their orgasms in 'attoseconds' now. God.

That is a fast shutter speed. I will have to get a new camera.
So an 'instant' is a ten millionth BILLIONTH of a second long? That can only mean when I scold me daughter to come inside the house for her supper with the command "come inside this instant" she will have to be aboard an F1-18 if she is going to arrive on time. (I better make sure the 'landing lights' are on!)

I remember at a job interview I attended about 20 years ago I was somewhat disillusioned. I had trudged through treacle to this particular 'opportunity' for a central heating firm in the most obnoxious weather conditions. I was known at the time as the 'Interview kid'. I had never been out of work before but the recession was suffocating the building trade and work was just a bit scarce. If you were able to find work the wages or 'pricework' were going down, not up. I lost a lot of sleep and went for jobs that I really didn't want. I would put my packed lunch in my little shiny briefcase, and with little red rings around my eyes and potential vacancies in the local paper, I walked begrudgingly into a swamp of depression each day.

My wife would straighten my tie and say with compassion. "Keep your chin up." How was she to straighten my tie otherwise?

"The U.K's most exciting home product requires motivated salespeople". The ad jumped out of the page. How central heating could be this stimulating I was quite obviously, patently unaware. A proud boast from a company who thought that 'the most exciting product still needed its salespeople to be 'motivated'. For instance if I had a home product that was very exciting I would not need to set my alarm clock. I would spring out of bed like a gazelle with the trots. What was the most exciting product in the UK at that time? Can you remember anyone? Wasn't it the microwave? Or maybe the personal stereo? The 'widget', maybe.

The mobile phone was a brand new phenomenon and was carried in the boot of your car or on a cruise missile carrier.. As Henry Ford would say 'you could have any colour as long as it was black'. It was the size of a Belling stove with a tank Ariel. If any yob tried to steal it , you simply just let go of it and dropped it on your assailants toe. It was like humping an anvil! (All you blacksmiths out there don't know what you are missing!) It needed a nuclear reactor to charge it, and always sounded like you were making the call, with your head in a carrier bag. You could raid drug traffickers houses with this 'monster' and use it to break down the door. When women used one they had to buy a pram to get it to their office.

Bodybuilders use to benchpress with it.

Now we just have men in offices boasting about how tiny theirs, is. You can video with them now. Send photos and even get online. The Japanese want to market the 'bonephone'. It's a 'chip' in your earlobe (if it falls out of your ear it becomes a chip on your shoulder). You make calls by dialling from 'twiddling your ear'. So what good is that? It's not even 'hands-free'!

Anyway, let us return to my interview scenario. By this time all this traipsing around from interview to interview, was somewhat demoralising. My hefty mobile phone was a bit of a drag too. It was a dignity issue now. I felt like a shitfly who had lost its sense of smell. I was a refugee for refusal. I had more rejections for work than Keith Chegwin. The time came when I felt 'enough was enough'. I would do eight interviews a day, and feel I deserved to drown in my sorrows. I would end up having a psychotic experience in the pub. I used to come back and do Deniro impressions in front of the bedroom mirror completely locked with beer, shouting "You looking at me".

This was most definitely my very last interview. I walked into the Blue Arrow job agency in Cambridge with gritted teeth. I spoke to the 'consultant'. A boy of eleven who chewed gum. He led me to a door and I knocked on it. "Enter".

A response that reminded me of when I used be sent to the headmaster's office with the 'black book'. A diary of punishment. If it was written on the dated page in black it was detention or 'lines'. Green, the 'slipper', and finally red for the cursed 'cane'. I was sure on this occasion I was going to get the birch. I slipped into the gym changing room moments before I was summoned and stole several pairs of boys underwear and one pair of swimming trunks from a locker while that class were playing rugby out on the pitch. For extra protection I donned another pair of trousers from a peg with little thought of the plight of the wearer on his return. I put all the underwear over my own and trunks and trousers. With so much added attire I walked like I had a mild disability but I was not going to take any chance with my expected beating. To my disbelief I was assigned detention in the greenhouse that day which was the hottest since records begun. Needless to say my balls stuck to the inside of my legs as if fastened with Araldite.

I opened the door into a box room a little bigger than an elevator. Occupying a seat behind the desk with a pair of sculptured Venezuelan cowboy boots crossed on top of it, to greet me, was my interviewer. He was smoking a cigar through a manicured moustache. Where was this guy thinking he was? Tombstone? He must have seen me stifle a smile as I pictured his rifle rack and his Stetson on the parcel shelf of his lime green Austin Allegro. I though how he probably wanked over Dolly Parton while to Hank Williams at night over a Jack Daniels and lemonade.

It was that instantaneous feeling you have when you meet someone with the personality of a paper cup. Total triumph without a word spoken. They say when you attend an interview for any job whether you want it or not, always imagine them either naked or carrying a small dog across a street.

"Right, another lamb to the slaughter." Roy Rogers boomed, chewing the end of his plastic capped cigar. Still reading a newspaper.

I sat down and put my feet up on the other side of the desk. Like Billy the Kid I just stared a stare. I thought he may go for his gun and have to call the sheriff. Instead, he took his shoes off the desk. Then I did. Then he put his boots back on the desk again and then I did. We did this five times. He got the message.
He pulled his feet off and scowled at me. Then he said with that sort of tone that was more like a bluff at a poker hand he said.

"What makes you think you can sell our radiators anyway?" He puffed and blew a smoke ring.

"Well I have just one question first." I said, stroking my chin.

A trifle taken back he stuttered, "Err, oh alright then."
"If you could drive your car at the speed of light would your headlights see ahead?"

The "well known gun" put away his Stagecoach times.
"Whaa..kind of question is …I dunno," he snapped impatiently.

I calmly stood up snatched the cigar out of his mouth and stubbed it out for him and said.

"Well, if you can't tell me the answer to that, I don't want to work for you."

It was a line I had borrowed but worked very well. I still go to countless interviews. but as you can guess I don't get much work with this as my opening question. There are others, I use now to break up the monotony of tramping with a certain measure of futility, from and to interviewers, that prime the visit that offends on a regular basis.

Next time you want go to a job interview. Ask them these questions and see if you still get shortlisted.

"If you can lick your own elbow, will you let me know?"
"If you can lick your own left nipple can I sleep on it?"
"If you have a bull terrier crossed with a Shitzu what are the puppies called?"

You get the picture?

This 'instant' time slice, begs me to ask. Do these scientists become fixated with daily appointments? Like, what if their personal assistants are a 'nanosecond' LATE (that's an ancient time limitation now. A bleeding lifetime compared to what this article is on about) do they scold their staff, and make them stay ten millionth of second after their shift?

When they meet for a drink and the landlord shouts 'time, gentleman please' do they shit themselves?

Make Dr Farquar's day - give this story five thumbs-up (there's no need to register, the thumbs are just down there!)

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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