“Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in the night; God said, Let Newton be! and all was light”.
(Alexander Pope)

By the way, Sir Isaac Newton was the first person to be knighted by a British Monarch, for his contribution to science.

Now Newton’s laws of physics were the stepping stones for Einstein’s theories; and one of these theories states that time slows with an increase in velocity. Then stops altogether at the speed of light. I was a sceptic when first hearing of this. But it has apparently been proved by an experiment where a super accurate atomic clock was placed on the earth’s equator, then another at the North Pole. The equator spins on the earth’s axis at approximately 1600 kilometres /hour; but of course the North Pole is (relative to the earth) not moving at all. Eventually the clock on the equator was found to be running (slightly) slower compared to the clock at the Pole. From there it’s only a matter of mathematics to continue the calculation onwards until one arrives at time stopping at the speed of light. I was still a sceptic. And I suspect that ‘time’ instead of stopping goes into another dimension that enables it to continue – but who am I to question Einstein!?

My scepticism (over the years) has prompted me to pose this hypothetical question – what would happen if wo giant (but accurate) hour glasses replaced the two clocks? Would the one on the equator have less sand poured in at the bottom, if left long enough? The answer is – ‘as there is less time on the equator, there will be less sand falling through to the bottom of the glass’. I was still a sceptic! Until I learnt that the accurate G.P.S. instruments used in navigation and mapping, have to take this slight time difference into account to remain accurate!!

These devices are quite amazing. They ‘fix’ a position on earth by calculating the triangulation from orbiting satellites (while allowing for the slight time difference). You can purchase a hand held one, to find your way about while walking in the bush. They can draw a little map (on their screen) for you to see where you have been walking. They are available (another type) to be used in cars. Supplying street and road maps and indicating one’s position on these maps; in addition to ‘voice over’ instructions on where to turn or to stop at any destination you require. But the most accurate systems are used by national defence forces. Where one can sit in a ‘control room’ in say Washington USA and guide a ‘smart bomb’ to drop on somebody sipping a cup of coffee outside a restaurant, anywhere in the world!! And also, at the same time, watch it and the target come together and turn into dust. Newton and Einstein didn’t really give us ‘all of the light’, now did they!?

So there we have a little on Newton’s and Einstein’s theories and postulates; leading to such amazing devices that could never have been contemplated around the time I was born. Even though they were possible in principle, it’s a very short period from then to now. But how do kangaroos come into all of this!?

Well, some time ago the Natural History Society acquired two large sections of land adjacent to Moorunde, and the dividing fences are in the process of being taken out. So, in places, the fence is no longer there. However, Rangers have reported seeing startled Kangaroos rush (in an effort to get away) towards the old fence line and leap over it.

They jump a fence that’s no longer standing!! Obviously they don’t see the fence; but they also don’t see that it’s gone. So why do they jump at exactly that spot?

I believe the answer is because these ‘roos know precisely where they are and don’t rely on their vision to provide the cue to leap a fence. This hypothesis is reinforced by observing kangaroos running into, and hitting a fence, when they don’t know it’s there. Or, when (for some reason) they are not familiar to the area they are in. They literally crash into the wires with sufficient force that the spectacle can be quite distressing to the observer, and sometimes resulting in injury to the kangaroo.

This little observation (by the Rangers) has implications concerning the kangaroos’ ability to navigate in their vast territories. We have always just casually assumed they know how to find their way around in the bush (in which most people would get lost) to return to a waterhole, go out to forage in a specific area, then find a known location to ‘lie up’ during the hot part of the day. And we have neglectfully thought little of it. But this particular observation indicates an ability to be extremely precise in determining their location. Because they don’t leap a fence by seeing it, but because they must know (within a few centimetres) the fence is – ‘there’! And ‘now’ is the time to jump higher! In other words, they have a clear picture (of some sort) in their brain, of their terrain and position in it. Perhaps as good as that operator watching the satellite photography of a target area, as they guide a ‘smart bomb’ to its victims.

Now kangaroos have never heard of Newton, Einstein or satellite triangulation for a G.P.S.. And nobody has ever thought they were all that smart. But in an area the size that Moorunde now is (17,000 acres) it’s not wise for a human to wander about in it (on foot) without at least a compass. As for time passing slower with a corresponding increase in speed, I guess I should take a lesson from the ‘roos and realise there is still an amazing number of phenomena to learn of, with concepts outside my capacity to understand. Even so.., on the equator (where time moves slower) does the shadow of a sundial pass slower over its face!??