Friday, April 10, 2009

You Light Up My Year

A light-year is a measure of distance, people!

Heinlein made me think about it:
...had all been in that waterproof money belt Janet had given me so many light-years ago;...1
Did he mean distance? It was in Canada (sort of) that she received the belt, now she just climbed out of the Mississippi river. That's a far distance. Or does did he mean time? Because the phraseology would be consistent with an expression of time. In which case he is wrong. But, hey, it's Heinlein! He knows his stuff! I'm sure he meant distance!

But check this out:
Flash back!! Back to a moment of time so many light years ago.2
That is just not going to cut it. And from a dean at the University of New England, too!

For more information, check out the Light Year article at eSky.

Quote Sources

1 Heinlein, Robert A. Friday New York: Holt Rinehart Winston, c1982. pg. 174.
2 Dean Kelley. "University of New England - COM - RSAS - Newsletter - September 2007 - Page 1". [Online](10April2009). URL:

1 comment:

Matthew Fedder said...

I certainly don't recall that turn of phrase from when I last read the book, but what it makes me think of is how, for one traveling near light speed, time appears to slow down - that is, since the time she had been given the money belt, so much had happened that was compressed into such a short period of time, that it seems like long ago, even though it was actually quite recently. (If I remember correctly, it was only about a week from Canada to the Mississippi). So maybe that's what he was referring to... Or maybe I'm just making stuff up? :)