Peter Philipsen: Time Traveler - Sept. 2nd


Peter Philipsen has a secret, one that he is particularly embarrassed by. One that is based on superstition, which runs counter to how he functions within the rest of his life. If Peter were to tell you of his secret, you'd assume he was simply putting you on. But upon describing the details, you'd wonder where else in life he has come off the rails. For you see, Peter's secret is that he's a bit of a time traveler, sort of.

A little background that will shed some light on Peter and his exploits. Peter is an elderly gentleman in his 70's. He is a highly respected theoretical physicist in academia and has spent a great deal of time working and experimenting in Relativity. His work helped shape the first GPS satellites in the late 70's — clock synchronization. 

He is a practical man, married to his wife Helen for the past forty years, he thrives on a consistent routine. He wakes every day near the same time, takes the same route to the office, has the same lunch, follows the same workout routine, and wears the same outfit nearly every day — thinks Steve Jobs. Helen, is, in her own right, a very successful children's author, who spends a great deal of time traveling. Her schedule is the chaos to his order, and that's where his little secret comes in. 

Every trip she has taken without him since before they wed, he has hidden his wristwatch in her luggage. It's a watch that was passed down to him as a teen from his father, and one that he has long cherished. In its own way, it is as much a part of him as Helen. But worry not, Peter understands the actual practicality of such thoughts. But it matters not, to him, this inanimate object is a piece of him.

So then, why does Peter put his watch in Helen's luggage? Simple, to have just a little more time with her. Even if it's only an infinitesimal fraction of a second. You see, if you're not familiar, in Special Relativity an object in motion experiences time at a slower rate than a stationary object relative to it. So in Peter's mind, by sending his watch with his wife, that little piece of him gains just a tiny fraction of a second more with her — more than if it were to have stayed at home and experienced time at a faster rate.

In a way and on the surface, this might seem like a silly little superstition of an elderly gentleman. But this where the secret takes a turn into the comically absurd. That is that he has a spreadsheet of her travels, calculating just how much time his watch has experienced the time dilation of travel. Therefore, how much time he has gained with her. And this is where Peter, in his own way, is a time traveler, or at least a small part of him. 

And perhaps my favorite part. Helen knows and finds it charming. It's a good thing that Peter has never read her children's series from the late 80's — The Time-Traveling Boy.

This was based on the suggestion of ‘time travel’.