“The problem, then, is less how much time people have than how they see it. Ever since a clock was first used to synchronise labour in the 18th century, time has been understood in relation to money. Once hours are financially quantified, people worry more about wasting, saving or using them profitably. When economies grow and incomes rise, everyone’s time becomes more valuable. And the more valuable something becomes, the scarcer it seems.” the economist
folks studying time perception have found, counterintuitively, that the idea that time speeds up as you get older appears to be a myth. if fact, as you get older you’re recording memories differently, “…first memories are dense. The routines of later life are sketchy. The past wasn’t really slower than the present. It just feels that way.”. when i first learned about the psychology of time perception, i discovered a simple way test how first memories affect perception of time. drive somewhere new and pay attention to how long it feels it’s taking ( we’re talking touchy feely perceptions here, not elapsed time ), then drive back at about the same speed and pay attention to how long it feels. the trip back will usually feel dramatically faster. eloquently on the perception of fast time and the aging mind, “It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel.” [ via daringfireball ]
i subscribe to the embodied mind thesis which posits that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body and central to that theory is the concept of neurotransmission. i.e. we perceive and think through sensory tranmsissions integrated and mediated by neurons. so it’s remarkable to see new research done on mouse chimeras which indicates that lowly “helper cells” called astrocytes, not just the number of neurons and their interconnections, might possibly be the key to human intelligence. according to one researcher, “It’s a stunning result. It provides the first unequivocal evidence that astrocytes may well have been one of the evolutionary drivers of human capabilities.” and if peripheral cells like astrocytes might play a key role in human intelligence, what other cells might also be involved like, say, in the gut? related to the embodied mind this recent radiolab podcast, “speed” has a segment “never quite now” where they discuss the slowness of neurotransmission which happens at about 27 meters per second or 60 miles per hour which means usain bolt runs at about half the speed of his nerve transmission and it takes a full 1/4 of a second for visual stimulus to reach the motor centers of your brain which is about the same time as it takes to transmit a telegraph from new york to chicago. everything you experience has already happened! you’re stuck in the past! contemplate what that means when you’re driving down the road at 60 miles per hour! somehow, in my mind, this makes me wonder what do whales see ( and think )?