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EFFINGHAM — Stop the world; Ryan Reardon wants to get off.

Well, maybe that’s going a little far. But in the best split-infinitive tradition of Capt. James T. Kirk, Reardon would at least like to boldly go in some new directions. The Effingham man is looking to make a course correction in our understanding of how the world and the entire universe works.

He has a strong religious faith and believes God laid down reality with precise rules, but those rules are different from what we’ve been taught. It’s taken him 10 years to think this stuff out and, two months ago, he finally felt brave enough to expose his theory to the slings and arrows of the Internet at www.whataretimewaves.com.

Isaac Newton said that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and Reardon has been getting plenty of those. “I’ve had people use profanity to explain to me why I am wrong,” he said. “Other people have told me to go to hell. People with Ph.D.s have said ‘I spent 20 years studying physics this way; how dare you, who are you, to question it all?’ ”

To get the full flavor of what Reardon is on about, you need to transport your mouse over to his site and take a long and careful read. But here’s the CliffsNotes version: Reardon says light doesn’t actually travel but is copied from one tiny particle to another in what he calls “time waves.” Time waves copy themselves out from an object, and they copy themselves back. These back and forth copies happen at 186,000 miles per second, the perceived speed of light, and create a kind of push-pull motion.

Time waves carry not only light but a physical force which, as they compress back on themselves, exerts what we experience as gravity; the bigger the object, the greater the number of time wave compressions and the stronger the gravity.

By this stage, Reardon, a recently laid-off software engineer, can pretty much guess what many of you are thinking: “The only thing being compressed here is this Effingham guy’s head.” But it helps to remember that the other theory of gravitation, dreamed up between 1907 and 1915 by a brilliant young clerk in the Swiss Patent Office named Albert Einstein, also is pretty strange. He says gravity results from the attraction between objects distorting the fabric of space and time.

“I’m a nobody, I know that,” Reardon said. “But I believe time wave particles are the real big boss of the universe. These waves are full of the data that creates our reality.”

Reardon’s patient wife, Joan, doesn’t pretend to understand every idea her husband pulls out of his teeming skull, but she said he’s been questioning the nature of everything since he was a boy. “You can tell him it works this way, and he says, ‘Yeah, sure, but what if it could work that way?’ ” she said. “He wants to know.”

She doesn’t know whether her husband’s ideas ultimately will end up reshaping the way we see the universe, but she believes the world needs maverick thinkers because that is how progress is made.

“Otherwise, we’d still be going to work on horseback,” she adds. “And here’s to the guy who came up with indoor plumbing; I’m a big fan of that idea.”

Reardon is a fascinating guy to listen to, especially when he starts talking about the wider implications of light and time. Like Einstein, he believes strange things would happen if we could accelerate to speeds faster than light or beyond the speed of his time waves.

He says Kirk and the “Star Trek” crew, zipping away much quicker than 186,000 miles a second, would experience a slowing of time relative to the people left behind on Earth. If Kirk traveled fast enough and then turned around and shot right back, he could theoretically arrive before he left, which could put a wrinkle in his warp drive.

The answer to how mankind deals with pesky problems such as that one may have to wait until the 23rd century, when the original 1960s TV series was set. In the meantime, Reardon will settle for a timely debate of his time wave theory, which he truly believes explains at least some of the mechanics of God’s creation.

“I’m just a curious guy who likes to think outside the box,” he said.

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