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The Matrix Media Movies Science

Can Time Slow Down? 444

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the there-is-no-spoon dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Does time slow down when you are in a traffic accident or other life threatening crisis like Neo dodging bullets in slow-motion in The Matrix? To find out, researchers developed a perceptual chronometer where numbers flickered on the screen of a watch-like unit. The scientists adjusted the speed at which the numbers flickered until it was too fast for the subjects to see. Then subjects were put in a Suspended Catch Air Device, a controlled free-fall system in which 'divers' are dropped backwards off a platform 150 feet up and land safely in a net. Subjects were asked to read the numbers on the perceptual chronometer as they fell [video]. The bottom line: While subjects could read numbers presented at normal speeds during the free-fall, they could not read them at faster-than-normal speeds. 'We discovered that people are not like Neo in The Matrix,' Eagleman said. 'The answer to the paradox is that time estimation and memory are intertwined: the volunteers merely thought the fall took a longer time in retrospect'."
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Can Time Slow Down?

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  • by m1ndrape (971736) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:07PM (#21673615) Homepage
    damn you agent smith, no wait, damn you oracle...no wait....damn you all!

    *shakes* fist

  • Newsflash. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cowclops (630818)
    First on today's news: Time doesn't slow down for non-relativistic cases.

    And in other news: Water is wet.

    Film reel at 11.
    • Re:Newsflash. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ResidntGeek (772730) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:10PM (#21673699) Journal
      Oh, shut the fuck up. You'd have said the same thing if they'd reported that the brain went into overdrive and could read the faster-than-normal numbers.
      • Re:Newsflash. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tzhuge (1031302) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:35PM (#21674215)
        Even though you've been modded Troll, I pretty much agree with the sentiment expressed by your post. This meme of 'that study's conclusion is so obvious; what morons funded it' is getting really tiresome. It wasn't that long ago when it was obvious that the Earth is flat and sailing far enough takes you off the edge.
        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:50PM (#21674493)
          Greeks knew the world was round.

          The Church declared that it was flat. Despite the obvious fact that it was round.
          • by Bandman (86149) <bandmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @03:20PM (#21674991) Homepage
            I don't know about that, but I know they had an issue with a heliocentric universe.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @04:06PM (#21675557)
              I have a problem with the heliocentric UNIVERSE!
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by masterzora (871343)
            I find that hard to believe given that the Bible also states the world to be round. Maybe you're thinking about heliocentricity?
          • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @04:07PM (#21675565)

            Two monks did, though. Very convenient that they did, because it gave a man with an axe to grind (whether it was against religion in general or the Vatican in particular) a way to discredit the Catholic Church.

            Read Late Birth of a Flat Earth, one of the essays in Stephen Jay Gould's book Dinosaur in a Haystack. I'll not spoil the story for you by quoting any more than this: the supposed Dark and Medieval consensus for a flat earth - is entirely mythological.

            (One thing missing from the article. No seafaring nation could ever have believed that the world was flat. Ships fall below the horizon. Distant lands fall below the horizon. Any sailor afraid of "falling off" would be ... well ... a farmer.(

            HAL.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GooberToo (74388)
          Well, it also ignores the fact that the headline is wrong. It was not testing time, it was testing the ***human perception*** of time, which is certainly a candidate for good science. Regardless of the outcome, no physics equations would have changed.

          So modding him "troll" or "idiot" would be appropriate. ;)

    • Time itself does not slow down, time perception is subjective. Anyone who has ever ingested cannabis and looked at a ticking clock will tell you this. "From what people tell me", it is on the order of "experiencing" 3 seconds every second. No need for free-falling airplanes.
      • by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@nOsPaM.dantian.org> on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:19PM (#21673889)
        I just tried it. People lie to you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jasonmicron (807603)
        Time itself does not slow down

        Ahh, but it can. Crank up that falling airplane to near the speed of light. Before it hits the ground, we all will be one second older than the occupants.
        • by bkr1_2k (237627) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @03:34PM (#21675191)
          At speed of light (or near) by the time we age one second the plane will have already buried itself into the ground killing all occupants. So you're right, we'd be one second older, but mostly because they'd be dead. So time doesn't really slow down, death speeds up. Your argument fails.

      • Re:Newsflash. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:51PM (#21674521) Journal
        Your higher brain functions work to make your consciousness a seamless experience. Your lower brain functions, more concerned with survival, do not attempt to do this. Thus, when the body is in a fight or flight mode, time seems to speed up, slow down and become disjointed. This is how your primitive lower brain functions work, they don't care about making it seamless, they care about processing the data your senses are giving as close to real time as possible so you survive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Alpha830RulZ (939527)
        Um, no. Though the time is takes to open a bag of Doritos does seem to expand to approximately infinity, for some reason.
    • No, but, in subjective cases
      like that god-awful meeting
      with the infinite list of slides
      full of acronyms that come dangerously near meaning
      yet somehow collapse into a cunning heap of mis-direction
      just in time for the next annoying, distracting transition
      delivered by a prozac-addled nitwit
      who has repeated his farce to the point of belief
      time has been seen to crawl
      like a drunken slug.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by commisaro (1007549)
      It may seem obvious, but it is important in science to test even the most "obvious" assumptions. Otherwise it is easy to come to false conclusions, and pseudoscience abounds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:07PM (#21673631)
    Long answer: Noooooooooooooooooooooooo
  • dupe (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sylvak (967868) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:08PM (#21673649)
    I remember reading this here a year or 2 back.
  • by Zashi (992673) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:09PM (#21673659) Homepage Journal
    What a stupid question. Of course it can. Ever had to sit through 3 meetings in a row?

    Turns a matter of hours into a matter of weeks.
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmansworld (950281) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:09PM (#21673665) Homepage
    Sounds a bit weak to me. Though such an event can be frightening or exhilarating, you KNOW that it's coming, and you KNOW that it's perfectly safe. To me, the experience of going over a roller coaster hill is different than the experience of being involved in an auto accident. I say more research is required.
    • Before I get flamed, allow me to clarify the obvious: time doesn't slow down because humans feel endangered. Our perception of time may slow down because of psychological and physiological conditions.
      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Informative)

        by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:45PM (#21674409)

        Before I get flamed, allow me to clarify the obvious: time doesn't slow down because humans feel endangered. Our perception of time may slow down because of psychological and physiological conditions.

        If I read the summary correctly, they have shown (to a limited extent) that EVEN our perception of time does NOT change during such events. What they concluded therefore is that our MEMORY is more to blame for compositing (AFTER the fact) an apparent slowdown or speedup of time during the event.

        FTA:

        'The answer to the paradox is that time estimation and memory are intertwined: the volunteers merely thought the fall took a longer time in retrospect'."
        [emphasis mine]

        So, the posters so far have been stating the obvious, but seem to have missed this point. The researchers were trying to TEST the long-held conventional belief that our perceptions do slow down or speed up during certain special events. They seem to have come up with a startling result - our perceptions stay pretty much the same, our later MEMORIES seem to be edited after the fact to make it seem that we perceived time differently during the event. Brains are so devious. *cackle* *rubs hands in glee*

    • by Thangodin (177516)
      Pretty much what I was thinking. I've had the experience of being in what seemed to be imminent danger and of having everything slow down, and so have other people I know. The experience is obvious at the time, not just in retrospect. I suspect that genuine mortal danger is required rather than just excitement.
      • But I wasn't in danger... I was playing a game of street hockey back in grade school and doing the face off on a play. But concentrating intently on trying to make the first shot. I hit it and everything went into "slo-mo" as the puck shot across the gym floor, past several people and almost directly into the net where I saw the guard slowly maneuver to block it.

        I didn't "recall" it slower, it was happening slower AS I experienced it.

        I don't think the story is done on this. Time is perception and it see
        • Re:Seconded... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Sanat (702) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @03:02PM (#21674673)
          In truth, time is an illusion, however in the Earth plane we use it as a point of reference

          About 15 years ago my friend Rick and I were out deer hunting and both of us got big deer (Missouri corn fed ones) and we were hauling them out of the valley on a 4 wheeler. They were tied on the front carrier.

          There is one point where the edge of the bedrock stick out and it is always wet and icy in that vicinity. I told Rick that we better walk the 4-wheeler out in this area but he is one of those large barrel chested men with mammoth arms and he just put his hand on the front of the 4 wheeler and held the front down as i was cautiously driving up the steep slope. I had gone about 15 feet when he slipped on the ice and let go and the 4 wheeler immediately flipped backward throwing me down 15 feet onto my back with a 4 wheeler and an additional 450 lbs of deer tied on falling toward me.

          Suddenly everything moved in very slow motion as it came towards me ( just as you experienced with your shot) and I merely lifted my legs up and positioned them and had plenty of time to catch the 4 wheeler's seat with my legs and toss it about 20 feet away.

          To my perception all of this took about 10 seconds to accomplish. To Rick's eyes it happened in a flash and he could not comprehend how my reflexes were so quick... in reality they were not. I simply was on a different timeline than he during that moment.

          I agree that Time is only a perception.

          • by Xformer (595973) <[su.noelreac] [ta] [37nolava]> on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @03:14PM (#21674877)
            In truth, time is an illusion...

            Lunch time, doubly so.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by aethera (248722)
            Wow, I had a shockingly similar experience about 10 (oh god, TEN!) years ago. Complete with the lightning like reflexes. I was working a a backpack and canoe guide in the Adirondack mountains, but had been asked to ride with group going on a three day mountain bike trek because they were down one staff member and I had the necessary first aid skills. On the last morning of the ride one of the kids bikes broke. I don't remember what, I think something with the rear sprocket. Rather than stop and make repairs
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Karl0Erik (1138443) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:27PM (#21674055)
      Exactly. I suggest strapping chronometers to people's windshields and involving them in accidents without asking them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I also am unclear as to what they think they're testing. They're faced with the question, "Does time really seem to slow down?" and in response they test, "Are people able to see and process things faster?"

      It's not clear to me what that the test answers the question. Does time *actually* slow down, and in a Neo-like state we can stop to look around while bullets are flying at us? Of course not. But do things *seem* to move more slowly? It seems so.

      • by Otter (3800)
        It's not clear to me what that the test answers the question. Does time *actually* slow down, and in a Neo-like state we can stop to look around while bullets are flying at us? Of course not. But do things *seem* to move more slowly? It seems so.

        The question is whether that apparent slowing is something you experience at the time and can take advantage of (i.e. if time slows to one-third speed, can you read numbers or dodge bullets three times as quickly?) or if it's an illusion your memory retroactively i

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537)

          The question is whether that apparent slowing is something you experience at the time and can take advantage of (i.e. if time slows to one-third speed, can you read numbers or dodge bullets three times as quickly?) or if it's an illusion your memory retroactively imposes.

          Still, I think those are multiple different questions:

          • Is the apparent slowing something actually allowing you to do *something* better in that short period of time?
          • Does the apparent slowing allow you read numbers more quickly?
          • Does the
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gunnk (463227)
        The same thing crossed my mind and I wonder if they didn't miss something important.

        What they test was weather you can read numbers faster during high-adrenaline moments. That does NOT test how fast you perceive time to pass. The maximum speed with which you can read numbers flashing by is dependent on multiple things:

        1) The speed and method the eye itself uses to capture "frames" of image data.
        2) The speed of any low-level image "pre-processing" that may occur outside of the brain (i.e.: in the eye or th
    • A shocking result (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mattpalmer1086 (707360) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:59PM (#21674621)
      I agree that some kind of life-or-death situation needs to be involved. I have experienced time-slowdown (or rather, perceptual speed-up) twice in my life, both in very threatening situations. Both times the feeling was coupled with a deep sense of calmness.

      The first time, I was attacked by a soccer hooligan, who smashed a bottle on my head with no warning, from behind. I remember turning round and seeing the thug waving the broken bottle - but everything had gone into slow motion. I could literally read every move he was going to make and counter it, with no apparent effort on my part, matrix-style. After I'd disposed of his bottle, I threw him around, then I played with him a bit without hurting him (much). I had the sense that I was far back, watching it all.

      Afterwards, I was quite shocked at what had happened - I am not a fighter, I am really quite a wimp. Thinking about it later, it made sense to me, that some kind of fight-or-flight instinct had kicked in, allowing me to react instinctually much faster than normal, with my normal consciousness somewhat suspended.

      The second time it happened, I was in a car that went into a 360 spin down a hill, eventually crashing into a lamp-post, totalling the car. Again, I felt calm, I could see everything that was happening as if in slow motion, but there wasn't anything I could do, so unlike the fight situation, I can't judge whether this perception had any practical effect.

      I find it interesting that you can't count numbers any faster in threatening situations - but I would wager that only certain, survival oriented abilities are accelerated in threatening situations. I wouldn't have been surprised if the ability to read numbers was actually worse in those situations! More research is clearly needed...
      • Re:A shocking result (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @03:51PM (#21675389) Homepage

        I agree that some kind of life-or-death situation needs to be involved. I have experienced time-slowdown (or rather, perceptual speed-up) twice in my life, both in very threatening situations. Both times the feeling was coupled with a deep sense of calmness.

        Happened to me, too. I was in the passenger seat of a car when I noticed a flare lying on a stretch of dark highway. My friend, the driver, hadn't noticed it. I was wondering what the heck it was doing there when all of a sudden, ahead in the car's headlights, I saw something in the road.

        What went through my head next was something like: "Oh man this isn't going to be good am I going to die now? I better have my seatbelt on at least yes I do that's good then too bad it's only a lap belt I'm probably going to hit the dashboard man that thing looks like it's made out of reinforced steel that's going to hurt I wonder if I should try to brace myself on something ahh I'm involuntarily turning my head does that make me a wimp? anyway oh well I guess I've done everything I can do to get ready it's been a pretty good run here goes nothing."

        A split-second later our '72 Chevy Nova smashed straight through two cars, which had been parallel-parked across the two fast lanes of the freeway, at 65mph. (The driver had never seen the cars, either -- I think he maybe should have been wearing glasses.) We tore the two cars in half -- ripped their backs off and kept going -- blew out all four of our own tires, and yes I did indeed smash my face up against the steel reinforcement of the dashboard. Other than that, we were fine. I peeled my baseball hat off the shattered glass of the windshield and we got out of there, moments before another car smashed into the back of our wreckage at speed and turned the Nova into a crumpled-up cube.

        All I could think was: "Cooooooolll."

  • I dunno... (Score:4, Funny)

    by gardyloo (512791) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:09PM (#21673673)
    ...if I believe that conclusion. When I was browsing on Slashdot one April, and everything turned pink and ponyish, I swear that day lasted several months, at least.
  • This just in: Perception is Reality! This seems like another rehash of the fact that our concept of "time" is determined by the rate our minds are working at (whatever analogy would be closest to clockspeed that actually fits...). It only make sense that the processes involved in an emergency situation would clock up as much as safely possible to increase the likelyhood of determining a solution before the "Dead"line.
    • But that's not what the study showed. The study showed that the people in the panic-inducing situation were NOT able to perceive the faster-moving clock, only the normally-moving one.

      Though I agree with the above poster - if you know the situation isn't actually dangerous, it probably doesn't invoke quite the same adrenaline rush as when you actually think your life is in danger.

    • Um, I do not think that word means what you think it means.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:10PM (#21673683)
    I have always wondered why we have 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute and so on. What criteria were used to put these metrics in place? By the way, when did time as we know it, begin?

    What would be the problem with metric time for example?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by brewstate (1018558)
      An even more interesting question is who paid for this study. I have a bridge to sell them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eln (21727)
      Thank the ancient Babylonians, who used a base 60 [st-and.ac.uk] number system. They came up with the concept of 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day.
      • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:30PM (#21674109) Homepage Journal
        The advantage of using 60 is that it's an abundant number so it is easy to split your hour in 2 parts, or 3, or 4, or 5, or 6, or 10, etc... This comes up a lot in the middle ages when people need to precisely measure stuff but have only relatively crude instruments with only integral markings on them. That's also why there are 12 inches in a foot instead of 10, because it's a lot easier to split 12 into 3 or 4 parts (a common operation) than 10.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chysn (898420)
      > What would be the problem with metric time for example?

      You don't say what you mean by "metric" time, but my guess is that you're asking about using a temporal analog of the current systems of linear distance, weight, volume, etc.

      If that's what you mean, the problem with that is that our current time system doesn't just measure one thing. It tries to measure the rotation of the earth in one day, and then it tries to measure the time it takes to
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bogaboga (793279)

        You don't say what you mean by "metric" time, but my guess is that you're asking about using a temporal analog of the current systems of linear distance, weight, volume, etc.

        What I mean is something like this:

        • 100 seconds in 1 minute

        • 100 minutes in 1 hour
        • 100 hours in a day etc

        By the way do the 12 months in a year have anything to do with the 12 hours in a day?

    • by joto (134244)

      I have always wondered why we have 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute and so on. What criteria were used to put these metrics in place?

      Obviously for the same reason that there are 660 feet in one furlong, 128 fl.oz in one gallon, or 14 pounds in one stone. But remember that choosing 10 as a base multiplier between units is just as arbitrary, it just happens to be more convenient when our number base also happens to be 10. If I were to choose, I would rather change our numeri

  • It makes me wonder (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nickj6282 (896871) *
    About the true meaning of "retrospect". Since all the signals our body produce take time to register in the brain, wouldn't all events by some strange definition always be "in retrospect"?

    I have been in a few car accidents in my time, and I can say that time really does seem to slow down in that moment. I don't know if it's just the way I'm remembering those moments in time or if, at that exact moment, I really did feel like time slowed.

    I wonder if the experiment mentioned was skewed by the fact that th
    • by Hatta (162192)
      About the true meaning of "retrospect". Since all the signals our body produce take time to register in the brain, wouldn't all events by some strange definition always be "in retrospect"?

      Yes. In fact it can be shown that our conscious awareness of decision making takes place after the decision is actually made. This is known as Libet's Delay [consciousentities.com].
    • This study confirms my experience. Time slows down for me, but not for most of you. This so similar to the movie, it's freaking me out.
  • by zalas (682627) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:11PM (#21673715) Homepage
    I think our perception of the passage of time in the past is purely based on our memories. Thus, certain things that are very memorable will probably mess around with our perception of the flow of time during that moment. For example, if you remember nothing after passing out from drinking and wake up the next day, you probably wouldn't feel like you actually spent all that time lying on the floor.
  • I dunno.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by framauro13 (1148721) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:11PM (#21673725)
    I question the testing method. It should include subjects sitting in a cubicle after 4:30pm on a Friday.
  • IANAP (I am not a physicist), but as far as I know it special relativity says: elapsed time depends on your velocity. In fact, more than time being relative and slowing down, the only reference frame when time is constant is when all objects being considered are moving at the same relative speed.

    .... Oh wait, you meant, can our perception of time speed up during accidents.
  • The whole experiment seems misguided. I mean, to the extent that such an effect has been suggested to exist at all, it seems to be described as being tied to attention focussed on a stressing event that produces an adrenaline rush and which concentrates attention on that event. It doesn't seem reasonable to expect that you'd be able to detect the effect by seeing how fast people can read off numbers unrelated to the stressing event; sure, you might see an increase in the speed there if the effect was real,
    • by FroBugg (24957)
      The question is this, which is poorly phrased in the summary:

      When in a stressful event, does our perception of time actually slow down in such a way that we can experience more? The implication being that our brain would apparently be working at a faster speed.

      They say no. We think we saw time slow down, but our mental faculties were not accelerated at all.
  • by jbarr (2233) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:15PM (#21673793) Homepage
    Heck, at 42, time is moving forward faster than it ever has. Days, weeks, and months are going by quicker than I ever remember, and I see NO sign of it slowing.

    Seriously, though, I see it as a matter of perspective. When I was younger, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" seemed to be the mantra because it seemed to take forever for things to happen. Maybe it's because I have adopted more patience over the years, so the waiting isn't as noticeable.
    • by BigBlueOx (1201587) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:43PM (#21674365)
      Days, weeks, and months are going by quicker than I ever remember, and I see NO sign of it slowing.

      My favorite theory about that:
          at age 5, 1 year = 1/5 of your life
          at age 15, 1 year = 1/15 of your life
          at age 40, 1 year = 1/40 of your life
      and in our heads we measure time relative to our lives.

      Well, I like it, so it's true.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yourlord (473099)
      I have a pet theory on that effect, as I've noticed the exact same thing. When you are 5 years old an hour is a LONG time. A week is almost eternity. At 20 an hour doesn't seem as long as it used to. I'm now 36 and time is flying by. Years are clicking off the way weeks seemed to when I was 5-10..

      It doesn't bode well as if you extrapolate this phenomenon out to the age of 70 then the last decade of your life will go by in what seems like a month.

      I attribute this effect to the amount of time your brain has e
  • is decided by several factors:
    • Which side of the toilet door you are.
    • How urgent your business is
    • If there is a deadline
    • At which latitude you are located.
    • How close to a black hole you are.
    • And many more with more or less influence...
  • Clearly, I'm writing grants for the wrong kind of research. This would be one hell of a lot more fun than playing with infectious diseases.
  • I'm not a neuroscientist, but it seems like you're kinda taking a jump to get to this conclusion from this experiment. Even though your senses may still be going "at the normal rate", it doesn't take into account any sort of internal speedup that may occur...
  • You'd think this was something from Mythbusters.
  • 'We discovered that people are not like Neo in The Matrix,' Eagleman said.

    Wow, good to hear that things like world hunger, oil dependence, and disease have been solved and there is time for experiments of this caliber. Now that the question of if we are in fact all Neos in Matrices is also settled, the world can live in peace!

  • To use a computer analogy (which seems appropriate in this case):

    IMHO they're only testing the visual preprocessor speed, in a situation where the expected effect is bringing online more processing power and/or modifying the task scheduling and priorities for better response time on normally background tasks that have become life-critical.
  • I guarantee I'll see every # and recite them two at a time starting from the middle of the set!
  • There is an old joke, "If you want to live forever then go live in a small town because every day is like a freak'n eternity."

    I personally can attest that time slows down in business meetings, lines, traffic, and at chick flicks I'm forced to watch.
  • Of course, they didn't give them the red pill first. Or even do a red pill/blue pill double blind.
    What kind of research is that?
    In any case none of them made the jump the first time anyway...
  • by DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:25PM (#21674031) Homepage
    That's why I can type all this and then hit

    And then I get this message!

    Slow Down Cowboy!
    Slashdot requires you to wait longer between hitting 'reply' and submitting a comment.

    It's been 0.2 seconds since you hit 'reply'.

    Chances are, you're behind a firewall or proxy, or clicked the Back button to accidentally reuse a form. Please try again. If the problem persists, and all other options have been tried, contact the site administrator.
  • They suggested the logical thing, that in time of panic/crisis, our perception/thought processes speed up to make it possible to contemplate the situation and take possible action, therefore things that are normally too fast for our normal eyes/mind to process, might be capable of being processed when those systems 'overclock'. Like an adrenaline rush gives us more than typical use of our muscles, something similar may happen to the mind and associated sensory organs.

    Their results suggest that during such
  • When I was a kid, I wrecked my bicycle while traveling around 20 mph (top speed baby!) on a downhill stretch of pavement near Battery Russel on the Oregon Coast. Not a huge life threatening event, but at the time it seemed quite serious. I remember thinking I had stopped rolling, putting my hand out to get up, and spraining my wrist as I rolled over it. At the ripe old age of 12 I was wondering if perhaps I could figure out how to get my brain to work like that all the time so I could be a superhero.
  • I always thought this phenomenon was a survival reaction. You body basically pumps out an enormous amount of adrenaline which clears your head, keeps you from panic, and increases your maximum physical capabilities (Even though you can injure yourself due to over exertion when it wears off).

    I don't think that time slows down I think that you temporarily speed up and your perception of time is skewed.

    • Professional Athletes (and probably anyone who is dedicated to a sport) often experience the "game slowing down" in a similar measure, where they are at a physical level where they simply react faster and their perception is that everyone else is moving slower. It's biological. When you're tuned more to what you're doing, and you get better at it, you react faster and percieve what is going on better.
  • God saw "The Matrix" as well, and has since corrected the universe. Before the movie came out, you -could- run up the wall, if you wanted to (and were convinced enough that it would work). Now you can't. Same thing for time slowing down.
  • Time doesn't (of course) slow down in such situations. Your perception speeds up, which is to say, you start processing more information, probably much of it in parallel.

    They should repeat the experiment, this time with the chronometers calibrated to legible speed, but give the subject a half-dozen or more of them to read the numbers off of at once.

    Although I rather suspect that this phenomenon may be more geared toward processing and reacting to data relevant to the situation (ie, that which will help you
  • by nido (102070) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {65odin}> on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:32PM (#21674155) Homepage
    The human perception of Time is a subjective experience. With training, one can either speed up or slow down how fast things seem to be going.

    What usually happens is that the boring minutes seem to drag, and the pleasurable moments pass too quickly. One can use hypnosis/etc to switch this around, so that boring hours can seem to pass in minutes, and the good times seem to last forever. Bandler addresses this in his Design Human Engineering [designhuma...eering.com] system. Milton Erickson, M.D. (psychiatrist who specialized in fixing people with hypnosis) also used time distortion in his work, iirc (and was the original inspiration for much of the NLP founders' developments). Any good book on hypnotic phenomena should cover time distortion too...

  • by Chysn (898420)
    > 'We discovered that people are not like Neo in The Matrix,'

    Therefore humans are not being used as living batteries for a race of mad robots. Come on, isn't that what they REALLY wanted to learn from the study?
  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @02:39PM (#21674289) Homepage
    ... this experiment has to be the dumbest ever. Made without a shred of preliminary investigation. "Tachypsyche" produces tunnel vision under extreme fight stress. It is well known to martial artists and some gunfighters. It probably should be research, but not with counterproductive tools.

  • Slow news day, Taco? Or just not enough editorial savvy?
  • by dex22 (239643) <plasticuser@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @03:14PM (#21674879) Homepage
    Perception is a perceived experience. Time goes forward at an undetermined rate. These are fundamental. What isn't is the eye's ability to see fast-changing light patterns. Nothing presumes that even if perception of time changes, the eye has the ability to speed up and see something which is otherwise a blur.

    This isn't a measurement of perception, but of the characteristics of eye refresh rates under stress.

    I would have loved to have been on the IRB Board that oversaw this study, and read the protocol...
  • by tygt (792974) on Wednesday December 12, 2007 @03:20PM (#21674997)
    If time perception slows down - in other words, if your brain goes into overdrive and processes events more rapidly - during extremely stressful situations, you're not going to be able to measure it in an experiment where the subject doesn't experience extreme stress, and a safe simulation of free-fall is unlikely to be stressful enough, especially when the subject has been assured that they're in no danger.


    Danger is what it's all about, or perception of danger. The adrenaline rush of the free-fall experience is only there because subconsciously you're still somewhat afraid, but the whole mind isn't involved in the fear.

    This would be like saying "Can people exhibit super-human strength under extreme stress?" (eg the "mom lifts car off of baby" stories) and testing it by saying "ok so pretend that your baby is under the car and lift the car up ok". Sure buddy.

    Next waste of time and money....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't think it requires actual belief that there is danger involved -- just that there is enough stimulus to fool your instincts into reacting as if there were. Falling backwards 150 feet sounds like a good way to do this.

      If time perception only changed when you actually thought there would be danger involved, roller coasters would be far less interesting.

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