Saturday, May 03, 2008

Theory of Relativity

Of late, I am noticing small things in day-to-day life which when seen in one perspective seem so ordinary. But then suddenly I see it in a totally different perspective, and the whole thing transforms into an absorbing observation.


Example 1: The automated doors (opens and closes without manual intervention) of an elevator.

Perspective 1: The door closes and opens all by itself when a person enters on one floor and leaves the elevator on another floor.

Perspective 2: An elevator basically needs 2 automated doors at any point of time to function. It is actually a set of doors that are opening and closing simultaneously. One is the door on the floor and one is the elevator door itself. So while the floor door just opens and closes, the elevator door travels along with the person and opens and closes in tandem with the subsequent floor door.

Perspective difference: While in former, it seemed the whole event needed only one set of doors, in reality, it had taken 3 set of doors (the floor door in which the person entered, the elevator door and the floor door in which the person departed).

Quite fascinating.


Example 2: Billing by a service representative in a retail shop for a long queue of customers.

Perspective 1: Customer C sees two other customers (A,B) in front and 2 other customers (D,E) behind. When the C’s turn comes up, the service representative picks each item, scans it and moves it onto the conveyor to be ultimately put in a cart. When its all done, he tells the amount to be paid, collects the amount and says ‘Thank You! Have a nice day!’ For all practical purposes, C thinks that once billing for D and E is done, the rep is pretty much done with his task.

Perspective 2: If one stands beside the service rep, one can see the rep repeating the same thing over and over again to a never-ending queue of customers. By the time C is at the counter, customers F and G have added onto the queue. By the time G is serviced, H and I have added onto the queue. By the time I is serviced, J and K have added onto the queue, and so it goes on and on. The items keep coming and coming in a never ending flow, much like going on a cruise where the Earth’s horizon is always there but never unreachable.

Perspective difference: While in former, to any current customer it seemed the rep serviced just 3-5 customers (customers in horizon), in reality, it’s a whole gamut of customers for the duration of the rep’s hours at the counter.

Quite intriguing.


Example 3: The common example of two vehicles moving at the same speed.

Perspective 1: Two passengers in two respective vehicles (which are moving at the same speed) would feel that they are immobile if they stare at one another.

Perspective 2: To a pedestrian, the scene comprises of two vehicles which are very much mobile (and containing two respective passengers).

Perspective difference: While in former, there seemed an element of immobility in the scene depicted, in reality, it was a completely mobile setting.

Quite captivating.


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