• 09.17.13

The Ultimate Breakthrough In Time Management–Physics!

We’ve been thinking about how to get more done all wrong. Why not just make more hours in the day?

How are you doing? “Busy,” I’ll bet.


We’re living in the age of “busy,” and logically, there are only two ways to escape its tyranny: Work less or create more hours in the day. The latter certainly seems physically impossible, but Jonathon Keats thinks the problem is with the physics: We forgot about relativity!

“Einstein did all the hard work of coming up with relativity, but honestly he wasn’t thinking about it in very pragmatic terms,” says Keats. “That’s the piece that Spacetime Industries brings into this puzzle.”

Spacetime Industries is Keats’ new creation, the latest in a long line of “innovations” from the so-called poet of ideas behind the quantum ATM and string theory real estate schemes. The premise is to take advantage of a principle embodied in Einstein’s “Twin Paradox.” If twin A stays on Earth, while twin B travels on a rocket ship into space and back, when twin B returns he will find that twin A has aged more. The acceleration-produced effect is called “time dilation.”

Keats’s plan is to recreate the effect of the rocket with a city full of fast-spinning wheels. We could live out our days in the fastest-spinning district, while slower-moving wheels would pass the time faster (that would be a good place for industry or agriculture). “You would be able to harvest an entire year’s crop every single day,” says Keats.

The blueprint for the time-managed city shows a city of wheels, connected at their centers with passages allowing people to safely pass from one district to another. It looks like the internal workings of a clock. “Big Ben is essentially a prototype, though they didn’t know it when they were building it,” says Keats.

Of course, to save a useful amount of time, the clockwork city would have to move at extraordinary speed. “A merry-go-round isn’t going to do it,” Keats says. “You would need to go at a good fraction of the speed of light in order to have a significant effect on one district versus another.” Spinning at close to the speed of light poses some obvious, not-so-relativistic quandaries. For instance, what happens to a body when it’s subjected to centrifugal forces comparable to a black hole? “The technical term is spaghettification and it is really a problem,” says Keats.

To avoid spaghettification, Iron-Man-style suits may be the solution. As for the buildings themselves: “Once a city or national government decides to contract me, we could work out those details,” he says. Keats’s consulting services are available upon request.


But he also has several products on offer that are available now, like “time ingots”: one-pound lead bricks purchased on EBay and repackaged (these are available for a special introductory price of $29.99). By exerting a very small gravitational pull, the time ingots exert a very small time dilation effect. Keeping one around is basically the equivalent of riding on a merry-go-round: You could save a small fraction of a second over the course of the next billion years, according to Keats. “They are highly beneficial as a desktop means of micromanaging your time,” he says. A similar product called the “time warp undershirt” attaches a weight to the fabric, allowing you to exert a similar effect on your heart, stomach, or other organs.

All of these will be available at the Spacetime Industries exhibition space, opening Thursday, September 26th at the Modernism Gallery in San Francisco, along with one demonstration product available only on site. Keats describes it as “an opportunity to try out the experience of time management through elevation.” It is otherwise known as a footstool. The gravity differential from being just one foot off the ground, could, Keats believes, save you on the order of 90 billionths of a second over the course of your lifetime. “Unfortunately,” he says, “the gallery closes at 8 p.m.”

About the author

Stan Alcorn is a print, radio and video journalist, regularly reporting for WNYC and NPR. He grew up in New Mexico.