Tuesday, December 4, 2012

gnomon twins

The word “gnomon” is apparently pronounced: “No-Men”. For years I have been  pronouncing it “No-Mon”; sometimes affecting a cheesy faux-Jamaican accent while saying it.

  Sanka Coffie:       Hey Derice! Ya dead?
  Derice Bannock:  No mon, I'm not dead.
        -- From the 1993 Disney movie “Cool Runnings” 

The gnomon is the sticking up part of a sundial. It is movement of the shadow of the gnomon along the sun-dial that one uses to tell time.

Sundials are not the simplest of time-telling devices. One can be tricked into believing that they are by comparing one to a wristwatch. The wristwatch has all sorts of moving parts where the sundial just has a few numbers on a disk, and a stick. The stick is the gnomon (pronounced “no men”) .

The moving parts for a sundial are the rest of the universe. This happens to be a very complex mechanism.

The length of an effective gnomon is determined by the shadow it casts at noon on the summer solstice. This shadow is almost non-existent. The winter solstice –or goru in the north- casts the longest noontime gnomon shadow.

This year’s goru is supposed to be our last. Though I have been told that the end-of-the world has been predicted with amazing accuracy it has only been resolved to a single 24-hour period. Important details like what hour or how the international dateline affects the prediction have not been reveled.

And how will the world end? It cannot be a simple series of earthquakes and fires as those are parts of the world’s existence that will have to go in order for the world to really end. Will the world go “pop”? Will the world fade in-and-out while a scratchy soundtrack goes “whschnzzzz-whschzzzzzz-whschzzzzzz”? I have seen cut rate movies use this as a special effect for teleportation devices, and sometimes they don’t work right. I have seen the same thing used in the original Star-Trek series, but with a slightly different sound effect. Will we find ourselves confronted by our evil twins from another dimension? Apparently that sometimes happens when a teleportation device malfunctions.

If this is the way the world ends I hope my twin has flamboyant facial hair and fashion accessories like the Star-Trek extra-dimentional twins had.

I will call the twins no-men and no-women.

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