Time flies

We are already at the end of January, how quick is that it seems like only yesterday we were rubbing our stomachs bellyaching about having a bellyache from the plum duff and roasties. Followed almost immediately by the throbbing headache of January the first.

Time does seem to pass quicker as you get older or is it just an illusion? I heard a theory once that the reason time seems to pass more quickly is that as years pass by and become more numerable then the percentage you have of experience means, as the “olds” always say they’ve done it and seen it all before! However before you guffaw read this courtesy of Harvard University.

How a clock measures time and how you perceive it are quite different. As we grow older, it can often feel like time goes by faster and faster. This speeding up of subjective time with age is well documented by psychologists, but there is no consensus on the cause. In a paper published this month, Professor Adrian Bejan presents an argument based on the physics of neural signal processing. He hypothesizes that, over time, the rate at which we process visual information slows down, and this is what makes time ‘speed up’ as we grow older.

As we age, he argues, the size and complexity of the networks of neurons in our brains increases – electrical signals must traverse greater distances and thus signal processing takes more time. Moreover, ageing causes our nerves to accumulate damage that provides resistance to the flow of electric signals, further slowing processing time. Focusing on visual perception, Bejan posits that slower processing times result in us perceiving fewer ‘frames-per-second’ – more actual time passes between the perception of each new mental image. This is what leads to time passing more rapidly.When we are young, each second of actual time is packed with many more mental images. Like a slow-motion camera that captures thousands of images per second, time appears to pass more slowly.

As he puts it: “People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth. It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful, it’s just that they were being processed in rapid fire.”

It’s an interesting argument I think and makes a lot of sense for those “olds” that still have a decent memory. Can you remember how Christmas was the longest wait ever, every year but now, as I have just said we are only 11 months away from the next one already! Whatever the reason and there are theories out there to make your days go longer if you read them all. Remember to use every single minute and not always productively either watch a really boring film now and then they seem to drag on for hours!