Thursday, January 5, 2012

College Basketball and the Nature of Reality

It has been a rough week for me as a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers.  First, the basketball team lost to lowly Iowa at home.  Then the football team lost in the Rose Bowl.  Then, on Tuesday, the basketball team lost again at home, this time to arch-rival Michigan State, in overtime.

For one ecstatic moment, however, it seemed that the game was headed for a second overtime.  Forward Ryan Evans banked in a three to tie the game just before the buzzer sounded.  The clock on the screen while the play was happening clearly had not yet struck zero.  It was great.

But then the madness began.  The clock on the screen wasn't the official clock!  And the "official clock"—the one above the backboard—was all zeroes when Evans let the shot go.  Here's the definitive picture that shows both clocks:

This is inexplicable.  One possible explanation is that the clocks got screwed up when the refs went to the monitor with 20.1(or 20.3?) seconds left to make sure the clock had stopped at exactly the right time.  But I prefer an explanation rooted in the not-so-immutable physical laws of the universe.  Put simply, simultaneity is relative.

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