News & Events

Time to Think Differently


We recently read the Special Collector’s Edition of Scientific American entitled “A Matter of Time”[1].  The 116-page edition examined snapshots of revolutionary development work focused on time measurement and theory—much of which stretch and challenge the basic principles of relativity and quantum mechanics  that order, simultaneity, continuity and duration all beat to a unified theory pinned to an underlying clock.

Some emerging thoughts reconceptualizing time measurement are:

  • Prototypes of ultra precise timekeeping devices currently exceed the time standards of NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology).  Further, these clocks are not Cesium-based and therefore, do not measure seconds—the current fundamental unit of measurement. [2]
  • Clocks measure duration between events but not the speed between them.  Thus, the “flow of time is subjective, not objective”.[3]
  • Correlation among objects may make time redundant and thus irrelevant to describe relative change.  The idea here is “relating physical systems directly to one another rather than to some abstract notion of global time”.[4]

We couldn’t help but think about these developments from a cyber security perspective.  Given digital electronic applications all reference a frequency from a crystallized oscillator, a fundamental change instituted based on any of the time-based development work cited above would not only have a material impact on the rate at which instructions are executed so as to increase computational power but also for digital electronic devices at large.

This suggests in the near future the times to defend, attack, respond, and redirect may be reduced to an almost infinitesimal rate.  With cyber attack moving toward the convergence of electronic hardware, firmware and software, we wonder what out of the box active defense methodologies —predominantly those that maintain human decision making— could be applied ….  in time.

[1] “A Matter of Time.” Scientific American. Spring 2012.

[2] W. Wayt Gibbs, “Ultimate Clocks.” Scientific American. Spring 2012.

[3] Paul Davies, “That Mysterious Flow.” Scientific American. Spring 2012.

[4] Craig Callender, “Is Time an Illusion.” Scientific American. Spring 2012