The New Year has already begun. We can see the New Year in once again this month as it is not only the first month of the year but also the twelfth month of the lunar year. As January allows us to look at the New Year and look back on the previous year at the same time, it is not too late to reflect on the past and make plans for the new year. The word January is from a Latin word “Januarius,” which means the month of Janus. Janus is a two-faced Roman god who could look at opposite ways. Janus is the god of gates just like January is the beginning month of a new year and a month carried over from the previous year.
Even if you have the eyes of Janus, who can look at the past and the future at the same time, you cannot undo your mistakes made in the past since the time only flows forward. Although time varies depending on the speed of observers (special relativity) or runs slower when in a higher gravitational potential (general relativity) in modern physic, time cannot be reversed. Dr. Stephen Hawking argued in his posthumous book that time travel may be possible through “wormholes,” a structure created when space is bent by such strong gravity, but it will be possible only in a state where it does not affect past events. Even modern physics, which argue that absolute time does not exist, view that the past cannot be undone.
Late last year, the science journal Nature published an article, where scientists warned that the world may have crossed tipping points. The tipping points refer to irreversible changes in the climate system. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that the tipping points could come once the Earth warms to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times. “Climate strike” and “climate emergency” were chosen as the 2019 Oxford Word of the Year. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, led the climate strike of teenagers and denounced the current generation as if she has come from the future to inform us of the seriousness of the climate change. “The schoolkids (striking for climate action) are right. We are seeing potentially irreversible changes in the climate system under way, or very close,” said Tim Lenton, professor at the University of Exeter and the lead author of the article.
In the magical world of Harry Potter, one can travel through time. Hermione Granger, a friend of Harry Potter, travels to the past and the future using her time-turner. What would Hermione say if she travelled to the future and looked back on the year 2020? I suspect Greta Thunberg to be Hermione Granger. I wonder what face Janus will make when he sees both the past and the future. I wish the gloomy look on Janus’ face facing the future would turn into a smile.