Bound by Time…

House fly illustration. The original caption r...Lets do a mental experiment… Imagine you are a house fly. You start your life in an egg. On the glorious day you turn 1 day old. you break free into a larva. You chummy along for few more days(3-5). Then you find a nice dark place to pupate. Over the next 3-6 days you grow into an adult house fly and emerge out into this glorious world… Over the next 7-20 days you live the magical life of an house fly… then you die. Hopefully not eaten alive or swatted but a beautiful peaceful death.

Now, Chew on this, there is now good amount of research to prove that Flies experience time much slower than us (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/10311821/Flies-see-the-world-in-slow-motion-say-scientists.html)
What that means is that, flies experience everything slower than us. Imagine spilling a glass of water and for the fly the water moves in slow motion.  For a fly almost everything is in slow motion, even the second hand of the clock takes forever to tick.

As a house fly, your life might be about 15-30 days to a human, but it might seem like a good solid 60-90 years to the fly. Ok I jumped on the math there :P At that rate (30 days to 90  years) 1 human day is about 3 fly years (~1000 days), which comes upto about 1 human second is like 16.66 fly minutes!

Now imagine time as humans experience it. A lot easier than fly time,  Water falls from the glass at normal pace and clocks tick a second at a time. Easy, so we shall skip right on from this part.

Next imagine being someone who experiences time much faster than humans… this is a bit like the time dialation in Interstellar but instead of you being light years away from the people experiencing time at normal human speeds, you are in among them.  Imagine, 1 second for you is like 16.66 human minutes. Water spills, crashing to the ground, some of it even evaporates before you realize its been spilt.  The clock is racing in front of your eyes, human hours are slipping by… Motion of the shadows during the day are visible, the stars move slowly as you look up at the  night sky.  life is like one of those time lapse videos.

Now imagine being even faster… how bout another 16.66 times faster… Now every second for you is about 278 human minutes(~4.5hrs).  For you the earth day takes about 5.3s to complete.  The water spills and dries before you can notice it.  The clock is spinning hysterically, the second hand zipping by into a blur… Standing outdoors you can see an alternating play of day and night (~2.75 s each).  You can watch new buildings being constructed, trees growing and blossoming.  The world around you is almost always in motion.

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The more I think about it the more I wonder if our perception of time is actually an handicap to our efforts to understand the universe.  Maybe we should have to look at the universe from the point of view of a house fly or a giant Redwood tree.  There will be entire species of animals that probably existed and disappeared in a years you have been alive.

Then there might be species that have existed for so long and will last so much longer than us that they might never know we even lived…


  • Arjun Singri

    I have read the article as well and I like to think that time is a feature of our brains. When I was researching that thought, I came across this article – http://edge.org/conversation/brain-time

    Highlights of the above article:

    Finally, the more distant future of time research may change our views of other fields, such as physics. Most of our current theoretical frameworks include the variable t in a Newtonian, river-flowing sense. But as we begin to understand time as a construction of the brain, as subject to illusion as the sense of color is, we may eventually be able to remove our perceptual biases from the equation. Our physical theories are mostly built on top of our filters for perceiving the world, and time may be the most stubborn filter of all to budge out of the way.

    • Working around the dimension of time :)
      Biases are really hard to work around, and this one is embeded into our core. Cant wait to see the results of calculations that work around it. Wont be easy to explain :)