Time Flies?

20 Aug

I was thinking about the expression, “Time Flies by Quickly” slowly… One can look at it at a piecewise level of granularity or in wholesome. Let us try to analyse it. If time flies by quickly, that should mean that every day, hour, minute and second involved should fly by quickly too. Is it true? Usually, when we are less occupied, we feel boredom. What it means is that, we are striving hard for time to pass by and it really doesnt “fly” by quickly. However, when taken to macro level, we look back and if we dont have anything interesting to report, we think that time flew by quickly, when it really should have been the other way around… Another view on that would be, if we are very much involved in doing something, we dont realise how much time was spent. That would mean that, if we are doing something that we like, we lose the notion of time and time does fly by quickly. Interestingly, in this case, we have a lot to report as we look back. So, it seems to me that, our notion of time at a piecewise level of granularity is not the same as looking back after a period of time in its entirety. Where is the discontinuity? Something to think about??


Posted by on August 20, 2007 in From AM-KICKING blog


11 responses to “Time Flies?

  1. Mad Max

    August 20, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    @ Mindframes: The concept of time “flying” by is relative. Flying implies some form of motion in the story here. Therefore if time flies quickly, we have to assume that time can move at varying speeds. However is time an object and is such speed measurable? Obviously not. In the sense that we first have to define time and its limits and then within the definition a measurement is possible. However such a measurement surely yields uniform movement across any metric.

    In my view the expression “Time flies by quickly” only means that I was not thinking about time for that given period and hence did not notice the movement (though it was constant).

    So while i do agree with your statement that we dont realize the time spent when involved in some work, it is not clear why time should fly when we lose notion of such time. Time could still move at a constant rate.

    However one can make an argument that time today flew at a faster rate than time yesterday or the day before, holding all else constant for the same person. I guess that can be defined operationally.

    What say???

  2. Manohar

    August 20, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    i’m not sure there is any discontinuity. Our mind doesn’t perceive time linearly as we measure it with clocks.

    So when the mind is filled with activities- its notion of time is not based on time, but as an afterthought later on. Since if the mind was busy observing the clock, it would not be focussing on the task at hand.

  3. Mad Max

    August 20, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    @ Manohar: pretty close to what I’m saying too. But here is a question. Does the mind perceive time, unless we constrain it to? Do we ever internally time activities? If we do how do we measure it? These are some lingering questions

  4. Mindframes

    August 20, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    There are 2 aspects to my thoughts, a philosophical one and an absolute one, with more emphasis on the philosophical one…

    I agree that the notion of time that mind dictates is not absolute, even, if you measure it with a clock. Think of how each second passes by when you run at 9mph over 5mph in a treadmill constantly staring at the clock. If mind’s perception of time is different from the wall clock time, does it really matter what the real time is?

    Another thought. Take a time interval A,B and divide it into n slots. Fill each slot with an event ‘x’ in 1 experiment. Fill it with different events ‘xi’ (i=1 to n) in another experiment. Can we say that, mind perceives the time in experiment 1 to be (B-A)/n and (B-A) in experiment 2? May be?? May be not??

  5. Manohar

    August 20, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    @madmax: my thoughts are that to perceive time internally, there most be some repetitive constant rate interval that the brain might use to measure time or passage of time (either consciously or unconsciously).

    Now the two rhythmic interrelated tasks are breaths and heart beats and neither is constant rate. So I don’t know if there is anyway to measure with some sense of accuracy without referring to external events.

    @mindframes: It might matter if we say it matters πŸ™‚

    One example of where it might matter; working on a task too long (as in optimal duration). If the person relied on his internal notion, he might spend too little or too much time and either give up or waste his resource on a task whose results could be better spent on something else.

    So I guess it depends on what you want to measure the time for.

    As for your last para- I got the ‘x’ events thingy; what the heck is the xi thingy and (B-A) for that?

  6. Mad Max

    August 20, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    @ Manohar: Exactly my thoughts..hence the question is super difficult to even conceptualize..

    @ Mindframes: Alrighty, from your last paragraph, is B-A the answer because the mind does not perceive a single event and the experiment is conducted without replacement. What is observable is the sequence of events within the interval and (B-A)/n is the solution because the mind perceives that the filling up is with replacement?

  7. Survivor

    August 21, 2007 at 4:35 am

    WHY ? WHY? WHY ? Why can’t you guys talk in simple terms.There is no need to talk about equations and analyze everything possible in this manner. When I first read the blog, I really liked it because he was saying that we talk about time flying when we look at the bigger picture though we might have felt time standing still at certain moments of boredom or distress. That is something to think about.
    I hope when Mindframes said philosophical , this is what he meant.

  8. Mindframes

    August 22, 2007 at 1:20 am

    @mano: irrespective of whether it matters to us or not, it doesnt seem to matter anymore to people around us..:)

    Not sure if I agree with your example. I still think our notion should matter. Our notion is a reflection of what we feel and that is more important than a wall clock time…

    @mad-max: there is no real right answer and that was the essence of the question…

    @survivor: I understand your plight… You are right, in the sense that I didnt want the blog to trigger arguments on the technical aspects.. But, it has turned out out be that way… Given the number of comments from fellow bloggers, I guess I will have to be friendly with mano and mad-max since they are quite faithful in commenting my blogs..:)

  9. Mad Max

    August 22, 2007 at 4:24 am

    @ Mindframes: Way to go. I agree, there cannot be an answer is what I feel though. BTW, you have always been friendly with us. I guess its just our nature that takes things on a tangent sometimes. It was not really an argument on the technical aspects, but rather I guess differences in perception regarding the philosophy by itself (atleast thats my impression).

    @ Survivor: Point noted. Will try to refrain from hitting the tangent in future.

  10. Manohar

    August 22, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    @survivor: why shouldn’t one go on a tangent πŸ™‚ ?

  11. BrainWaves

    August 22, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    With following statements/phrases:
    “piecewise level of granularity”,
    “let us try to analyse it”
    “taken to macro level”
    “period of time in its entirety”

    how can you expect this discussion to go anywhere?

    To top it off, he finished it as “Something to think about?”

    I think Mindframes blogged his though process when he was reading that “heavy” book.

    Coming back to the Time discussion, her is analogy to data warehousing (my interpretation of it).
    Day to day data is stored completely (no compression) whereas only a subset is chosen to keep track of past.(in DW).
    Piecewise level of granularity is used for present and future activities whereas to analyse past all we need is a summary. (childhood for instance)


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