Timing Out

I forgot to take my headphones with me when I went to the gym last night, so I couldn’t listen to my music while I exercised. After what I thought was a good ten minutes of hard work, the clock on the gym wall told me I’d barely managed two minutes. I was not happy. I managed to complete my full routine, but it was so much harder without the music.

Compare and contrast.

This morning, I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm was due to go off. I was awake, but decided to wait for the alarm before getting up. Two minutes later, the alarm went off. Or rather, it seemed like two minutes.

If only I could master the passing of time, so the nice stuff dragged, and the hard stuff sped by, and not the other way round.

I’ll keep dreaming.

An Israel Time Experience

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

The week starting Sunday 5 February, an email went round the office warning us that there would be an electricity outage on a particular morning between 7.30 and 8.30 AM. I was using a desktop, so followed the expert advice and turned off my computer before the scheduled break, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Eight-thirty came and went without a sniff of an outage. Back to work I went.

Later that week, another email announced that the outage had been postponed, and would be on the following Wednesday (15 February) from 7.30 to 8.30 AM.

Once again, come the appointed time, I followed the expert advice, turned off my computer before the scheduled outage, and waited.

And waited.

This time I waited until 8.20 AM before deciding enough was enough, and I had work to do. Can you guess what happened?

At 8.25 AM, while busy working away, the electricity was cut… Bastards! It was only a 15 minute outage, but why oh why couldn’t they have managed to do the whole thing inside the allotted time?

Ah well, at least my computer wasn’t damaged. Though I am having some problems with the printers..

When time stood still

Source: Wikimedia/S Sepp

Source: Wikimedia/S Sepp

This, from the BBC, is fascinating:

…It started as a headache, but soon became much stranger. Simon Baker entered the bathroom to see if a warm shower could ease his pain. “I looked up at the shower head, and it was as if the water droplets had stopped in mid-air”, he says. “They came into hard focus rapidly, over the course of a few seconds”. Where you’d normally perceive the streams as more of a blur of movement, he could see each one hanging in front of him, distorted by the pressure of the air rushing past. The effect, he recalls, was very similar to the way the bullets travelled in the Matrix movies. “It was like a high-speed film, slowed down.”

The next day, Baker went to hospital, where doctors found that he had suffered an aneurysm. The experience was soon overshadowed by the more immediate threat to his health, but in a follow-up appointment, he happened to mention what happened to his neurologist, Fred Ovsiew at Northwestern University in Chicago, who was struck by the vivid descriptions. “He was a very bright guy, and very eloquent” says Ovsiew, who recently wrote about Baker in the journal NeuroCase. (Baker’s identity was anonymised, which is typical for such studies, so this is not his real name).

There’s more:

It’s easy to assume that time flows at the same rate for everybody, but experiences like Baker’s show that our continuous stream of consciousness is a fragile illusion, stitched together by the brain’s clever editing. By studying what happens during such extreme events, researchers are revealing how and why the brain plays these temporal tricks – and in some circumstances, they suggest, all of us can experience time warping.

Read it all, here.