How to Bend Time to Your Wishes in the Pandemic
In his famous thought experiment, a 16-year-old Albert Einstein imagined what it would be like to travel as fast as a beam of light. If he rode alongside, traveling at light speed, he wrote, “I should observe such a beam of light as an electromagnetic field at rest.” For the observer, in this case Einstein, time itself would slow down. This, among other thoughts, would lead Einstein to theorize about how time is relative. Time and speed have an inverse relationship — should you find yourself approaching the speed of light, you’ll note that time slows down.
For those of us clocking our days at a human pace on planet Earth, time is constant. Seconds tick by at the same rate for an American as they do for an Australian — or for an accountant in an office building as they do an angler on the ocean. Time slows down only for astronauts in low earth orbit, no one else.
While it may be true that high achievers have the same 24 hours in their day as do you and I, for most of us (myself included), that doesn’t feel like the case. Why? I suspect we can conclude that some efficient people have fine-tuned time management so well that their days appear longer.
According to several popular theories and studies, time perception can vary depending on three factors: stress, age, and disposition. Time seemingly slows down when we’re scared, speeds up as we age, and is completely warped when we’re on vacation. This vacation time warp is what Claudia Hammond termed the holiday paradox. Hammond describes it as “the contradictory feeling that a good holiday whizzes by, yet feels long when you look back.”
Covid-19 and the ensuing pandemic have added yet another variable into the time equation, drastically altering its perception and passage for nearly everyone on the planet. For some, time feels like it’s flying by, while for others, it is dragging along. So, who’s right?
This Is Why You Can’t Remember Yesterday
Science explains why time is so disorienting and mind-numbing these days