Monday, March 17, 2014

Time paradoxon

For the great part of this past summer I’ve been talking and writing about what we have come to understand of time. Not so much about the passage of time, or our perception of time but rather, the more lofty notions, space-time. We know for example time slows at higher speeds of the reference frame relative to another. This (time dilation) is explained in special relativity theory. But what of the psychology of time? We have all, at one time to another; acknowledged how quickly time seems to be breezing by. Time seems to pass by quicker as we grow older. Time flies when we’re having fun, where did this year go, etc.

Time paradoxon is relevant for understanding our perception of time. It seems, according to Bruss and Ruschendorf of Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Universitat at Freiburg that while time periods which are filled with interesting activities pass by quickly, these periods are felt in retrospection as having taken longer than less eventful periods. Hence, in retrospective, the feeling of time duration is in general different from its perception at the time of the very same period. One convincing explanation of this is that human beings remember, first of all, major events of their life. Periods of these major events are memorized in a particular way and leave an accessible track on the human mind. Moreover, the meaning of a major event changes naturally in time. A first event of a certain type has a greater chance to be felt as major than similar events later on in life. Therefore a month in childhood or adolescence is usually felt much longer than a month in adult age. The feeling of time is thinned out in a quite natural way. On the whole the phenomenon seems almost unavoidable. Taking these arguments together gives additional support to the idea that important or new events and their pattern of occurrence in life play a dominant role for the individual perception of time.

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