Sunday, May 1, 2011

Does Time Slow Down When We Fall?

There’s a scientist who studies how we perceive time when we fall by having subjects fall about 100 feet, backward into a net.  So far, they’ve discovered perceived time slows by about 30%. I like this quote:

“Living in the past may seem like a disadvantage, but it’s a cost that the brain is willing to pay,’ Eagleman said. ‘It’s trying to put together the best possible story about what’s going on in the world, and that takes time…

Touch is the slowest of the senses, since the signal has to travel up the spinal cord from as far away as the big toe. That could mean that the over-all delay is a function of body size: elephants may live a little farther in the past than hummingbirds, with humans somewhere in between. The smaller you are, the more you live in the moment….’I once mentioned this in an NPR interview and I got flooded by e-mails from short people,’ Eagleman said. ‘They were so pleased. For about a day, I was the hero of the short people.”

The whole article is here. Including this fun test:

…”go look in a mirror. Now move your eyes back and forth, so that you’re looking at your left eye, then at your right eye, then at your left eye again. When your eyes shift from one position to the other, they take time to move and land on the other location. But here’s the kicker: you never see your eyes move. There’s no evidence of any gaps in your perception—no darkened stretches like bits of blank film—yet much of what you see has been edited out. Your brain has taken a complicated scene of eyes darting back and forth and recut it as a simple one: your eyes stare straight ahead. Where did the missing moments go?”

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