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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grouch Marx once observed, "Time flies like a bullet... fruit flies like a banana."

... but of course, that was Groucho.  He also said, "I refuse to join any club that will have me as a member." He prophetically told us, "I intend to live forever... or die trying," which he did.

About how time flies though, doesn't it? How long is a minute? Does your week ever fly by? Ever watch a flower grow in a slow motion documentary... or a dog lapping water by curling the tongue under as it scoops? (Check it out on YouTube.) It's really neat how events happen so fast that our brain can't capture them... or so slow that they seem to go on forever.

"Honey... I'll be ready to go in a minute."

"Is it our anniversary again?" Slap!

"Can dinner wait just a sec., hon, there is only a minute left in the football game? "

"Is it Sunday night already?"

Funny thing about time... it never seems to be what it is. It is either too slow... or too fast. Never just right. That's why time in the dentist's chair seems like it will never end, but time doing something fun is over before you know it.

I used to drive my kids 15 miles to school on some days.  When I was running late, I sped (not really officer) the back roads and could make it in 18-20 minutes. When we left early and had time to spare, I drove the same route, leisurely enjoying the scenery and conversation, at a much less-nervous pace. I usually made it in... 18-20 minutes. I never could figure that one out... and was never smart enough to become a same-speed wonder. Yet, the only difference seemed to be my anxiety and stress level.

There have been several studies trying to understand how real time sometimes seems to pass in slow motion. A pitched baseball reaches the batter at a specific speed, yet to a good batter--say Ted Williams--the ball almost moves in slow motion and becomes clearer. Some tennis players have made the same observation. Williams used to say he could actually see the stitches on the ball and note its rotation.

So is that how Keanu Reeves (who's first name means 'cool over the mountains' in Hawaiian... in case you wondered) dodged those slow motion bullets as Neo in the Matrix movies?

It has been speculated that real time and perceived time are seen differently by the brain. Could it be that we have a "capture speed" as the brain takes it in and an almost instantaneous "playback speed" that we digest with?

A later study seems to indicate that when we perceive we have to take action, we deem the durations to be longer than if we were not required to move. The conclusion drawn was that time only seemed to pass more slowly because the test subjects remembered it doing so... kind of like in a dream, I guess.

Might that explain how a drowning man's life could flash before him in an instant... or would that just reveal that the drowning man didn't have that much to remember?

So much for today's not very interesting post.

1 comment:

  1. This is not a picture of Groucho Marx. It's the un-credited image of Groucho-impersonator Frank Ferrante.