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The Time Hack
February 9, 2011 10:44 AM   Subscribe

The Time Hack: A web-based effort to challenge one person's perception of time through new and unusual experiences.
posted by parudox (28 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does this have anything to do with four simultaneous 24-hour days arranged in a cube fashion?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:56 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thank goodness he's blogging about it.

That said, this has been my expounded pet theory every time someone wonders where the time goes. Remember back in elementary school when it seemed like FOREVER before summer? We were learning math and handwriting and grammar, the basics of an education that had a lot of ground to cover before we could move on to more complex (and narrow) topics. But high school was a blur and I bet college seems like a couple crazy weekends and about six weeks straight cramming.

Now that you have a set routine the years just melt away, don't they? Where did January go? You mean we're already well into month two of the second decade of the NEXT MILLENNIUM?

Which then leads, like this guy's discovered, to an intense desire to go outside and do something, talk to someone, and maybe lodge a good memory into your afternoon.
posted by carsonb at 10:57 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Testators can force beneficiaries to meet unending objectives before cashing out in the name of the deceased.

The author should be grateful for ignorance of the rule against perpetuities.
posted by exogenous at 10:59 AM on February 9, 2011


People always live forever when there is an annuity to be paid them. (Jane Austen)
posted by norm at 11:12 AM on February 9, 2011


Related book: The Geography of Time by Robert Levine, mentioned in this Radio Lab episode but in the context of a related topic. The book talks about how people perceive the flow of time and also the history of time and its social importance. It's really easy to read and I personally learned a lot about things I'd hadn't given much thought to, namely that time didn't use to be as important as it is today.
posted by Nattie at 11:15 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll tell you what will mess with your perception of time:

1) get hit by a car while riding a motorcycle.
2) suffer several broken bones.
3) get taken to the ER by ambulance.
4) somewhere along the line start receiving lots and lots of medical-grade dope.
5) get transferred by helicopter to another trauma center and begin treatment, repeating step (4) as needed.

Here's the surprising part - I thought eventually I'd go to sleep or pass out. Nope. I probably didn't enter anything like a normal sleep cycle for 24 hours, and it was over a week in the hospital before I was really sleeping. Now, what I was doing was becoming more and less lucid for, say, 30 minutes at a stretch, and there are lots of things that happened that I can't remember and lots of time I can't account for, but at the time it felt like I was lying in bed awake, with the pain (sorta) under control but absolutely nothing to do or that I could do - wasn't lucid enough to even watch TV and follow what was happening. But I was conscious.

And that, my friends, makes it feel like a mighty long time...
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:31 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also: The Un-TV and the 10 Mph Car
posted by peeedro at 11:31 AM on February 9, 2011


The Time Hack is an experiment aimed at exploring whether our perception of time is influenced by our actions

I will call my blogtobook "Heat Hack" and it will be an exploration of whether fire is hot.
posted by DU at 11:32 AM on February 9, 2011


carsonb, what is time? It's the way we measure the passage between moments. The more moments you have, the smaller time seems. When you only have five years of time to measure against, a year seems long. It's 20% of your experience. The longer you live, the faster time seems to go.
posted by Eideteker at 11:33 AM on February 9, 2011


The Time Hack is an experiment aimed at exploring whether our perception of time is influenced by our actions.

Wow, what a strange coincidence: I was about to start blogging a long term experiment aimed at exploring whether water is wet.

Leaving the snark aside for a moment, though, it's an interesting project. I really like the idea of recording something (like the flight of a paper plane) and then comparing your perception of its length with its measured length. While it hardly proves anything, it does illustrate the concept quite well.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:39 AM on February 9, 2011


The Time Hack is an experiment aimed at exploring whether our perception of time is influenced by our actions.

Sigh. How. It's an experiment aimed at exploring how perception of time shifts. Not whether. Not if. This kind of shoddy description really bugs me - it's a great idea for an anecdote-experiment-blog, but come the fuck on, "perception of time is influenced by actions" is so settled it's passed into cliche ("time flies when you're having fun.")
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:41 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll tell you what will mess with your perception of time:
1) get hit by a car while riding a motorcycle.
...


Similar things have happened to me at times, but the most recent one comes to mind, where the time dilation was at Million Dollar Man proportions, even the sound was similar.

I was carrying a recently purchased microwave home a few blocks. I cut across a traffic island, with median-strip park landscaping. There's a fence with a low chain slung between poles. It's only 18 inches high at the lowest point, I figure I can jump the chain. But I'm carrying a microwave, the ground is wet... My leading heal just catches on the chain, my weight is pitched forward, I'm about to face-plant into traffic.

Time slows to where I can analyze every vector of momentum. Using the inertia of the microwave that's falling in front of me, I'm able to counterintuitively push down on it to leverage my back foot up enough to high-step over the chain, while kicking my trapped heal off and over. Then another wacky recovery move to get control of the microwave and plant a foot on the pavement.

I was so appreciative of the wonderful machine that I'm privileged to inhabit, but the adrenaline and whatever else rush took a long time to come down from, and I suspect some components were a bit stressed over the half hour it took for my vital signs to come down from that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I've kind of always hated time. I believe Deep Blue Sea's Preacher, played by LL Cool J, said it best when he paraphrased Einstein thusly:

"Grab hold of a hot pan, second can seem like an hour. Put your hands on a hot woman, an hour can seem like a second. It's all relative."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:09 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll stick with the Chaos Magick Servitor of Fotamecus thank you very much.
posted by symbioid at 12:09 PM on February 9, 2011


Interesting but both the tasks and the author's estimation of time seem arbitrary. Why would the author guess 6m 21s for a task vs. 6m 22s. Maybe it's just me but whole numbers and even halfs would seem like more genuine guesses to me.
posted by thorny at 12:24 PM on February 9, 2011


The Land Before Time
posted by sleepcrime at 12:28 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where's the device that lets you speed or slow the passage of time?
posted by uncleozzy at 12:45 PM on February 9, 2011


I was so appreciative of the wonderful machine that I'm privileged to inhabit, but the adrenaline and whatever else rush took a long time to come down from, and I suspect some components were a bit stressed over the half hour it took for my vital signs to come down from that.

Whew, I think by the time I was through with that I'd almost rather drop the microwave.

I did something like that as a kid:

1) decide to impress my mom by a wacky step off the side of a shopping center staircase onto the
2) 55 gallon drum lid which turns out
3) not to be on tightly
4) and is full of used donut grease
5) I sorta do a pratfall onto the parking lot and one shoe, sock and pants leg is soaked in old grease, but even my idiot 11 year old self realizes he is VERY DAMN LUCKY NOT TO HAVE BROKEN A LEG.
6) My mom (who had a new car) was not amused. She made me find a box to put my leg in for the trip home.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:53 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've noticed my time perception over long periods, say months and years, is noticeably different than a lot of my peers.

Doing a lot of performance work and meditations focused on paying attention to the things around me, my sense of time feels loooong. My friends mention how time flies for them, but it never seems that way for me.

I've gotten a few of them to try the attention games with me and they agree that their sense of time seems to elongate as well. As far as time not flying and still having lots of fun. Maybe it's a Be Here Now situation?
posted by artof.mulata at 1:03 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


carsonb said "That said, this has been my expounded pet theory every time someone wonders where the time goes. Remember back in elementary school when it seemed like FOREVER before summer?"

Here's my theory on why time flies when you are old, but not when you are young. When you are seven years old, the last year only took 1/7 of your life. When you are thirty years old, a year is only 1/30 of your life. When considering an arbitrary time span against the entire span of your life thus far, the time will always be perceived as going by faster and faster as you grow older, because you have more and more experiences to compare that span against.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:11 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Spend all day at a MEPS and then fly on a plane, sleep for 15 minutes and start your first day of boot camp...long day.
posted by rahnefan at 1:11 PM on February 9, 2011


Can we shoot at him?
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2011


As long as we're sharing time-dilation-during-injuries stories:

I was twelve or thirteen years old. I had finished my paper route, and was riding my bicycle home, and this single, huge, perfectly formed snowflake landed on my glove, so I was busy admiring it as I pedaled directly into the front bumper of a parked car.

My trajectory over the vehicle was the traditional, stereotypical slow-motion affair: I had plenty of time to study a decal that was in the vehicle's back window which was a picture of some kind of clown head in sparkly metallic colors and to wonder what it was meant to represent. I also had time to be mildly curious about the fact that I was looking at a sticker on the car's back window, even though I had crashed my bike into the front of the car, and that the sticker was upside-down which after some thought I realized indicated that actually I was the one who was upside-down in midair and would therefore probably manage to clear the entire vehicle and land on the pavement beyond it, and to wonder what exactly had caused me to move upwards in a parabola over the car rather than directly into its windshield, and to consider whether it would be possible to calculate my initial velocity on impact based on my eventual landing position, and to conclude that it probably wouldn't be because my launch angle was unknown -- I was, at the time, something of a math geek, this sort of thinking was totally normal for me even in a not-flying-over-a-car situation -- but that whatever it was I must have been going pretty darn fast for a kid biking home from his paper route.

I also wondered what had happened to the snowflake on my glove, and whether I was about to land on my head and die, and how dumb I would feel about it if I did.

The next bit was exactly the opposite: I blipped instantaneously from the moment just before I hit the pavement to being in the middle of some guy's lawn trying somewhat pathetically to stick my head in a snowdrift to dull the pain and knowing how pathetic and pointless it was but doing it anyway because what else what I going to do.

So there was some conservation of time dilation going on: whatever I gained during the slow-motion part was lost again during the accelerated post-impact part.


As for the website: all the talk about time and duration and perception seems not much more than a cute concept that he's wrapped around some fairly generic, and honestly rather dull, blog content. "I made maple candy! And petted a donkey!"
posted by ook at 1:35 PM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Borderliners by Peter Hoeg is an interesting read for anyone interested in concepts of time, although it's definitely flawed like all of his books (The Quiet Girl WTF).
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:51 PM on February 9, 2011


I have my time-dilation event on video (spin starts about 25 seconds in).

In the dry, my car (Spec Miata) can take this kink at full throttle without "lifting" (letting off the gas), at about 105mph. On this day, it had been raining heavily, to the point that I had to brake for the corner on earlier laps. But the track was drying quickly, so the entry speed for this kink was getting a little quicker every lap. Still, it's a bit of a guess how fast you can go, because you don't know quite how much grip you have. I didn't think the track was dry enough for no lift, but thought I could get away with just lifting halfway off the throttle. Turns out, I was a *little* bit too fast, hence the slide.

The slide only takes about 8 seconds, but to me, it seemed like about a minute while I tried to work out how to recover. I distinctly remember:

1. I'm sliding, this may not work.
2. Yep, running out of track. I can a) keep it straight and run off the outside, or b) keep it on the track but probably spin. Hmm, wet grass is bad; let's keep it on the track. Go for b).
3. I'm at full opposite lock, losing the tail, definitely going to spin. Wait for the trajectory to send me on a path that will keep me on the track and lock the brakes so I keep sliding straight.
4. Awesome. I'm sliding straight down the track, brakes locked. Look around... no traffic, not going to hit any other cars, not gonna hit the corner worker station. Whew! Now let's try not to lose too much time.
5. I'm rotated past 90 degrees. Hmm. Guess that means I need to turn the wheel back to the right to get my nose pointed back straight. Hah! Aren't I clever...
6. It's not working. Nothing's happening. WTF is going on?
7. OOOOOH LET OFF THE BRAKES TO LET THE WHEELS ROLL, YOU DUMBASS.
8. Sweet. They caught grip and I'm back straight. Too bad I'm almost stopped. Wish I had remembered to release the brakes earlier so I could have kept some speed.
9. O hai corner workers, thanks for the applause. I feel like an idiot. Hope I didn't lose too much time!
posted by LordSludge at 1:52 PM on February 9, 2011


This reminds me of something that Einstein said: "When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours that's relativity."
posted by jonesor at 4:15 PM on February 9, 2011


. When you are seven years old, the last year only took 1/7 of your life. When you are thirty years old, a year is only 1/30 of your life.

People do say that. Recently I heard another one, "getting older, the tedious workdays seam longer, but the weeks and months fly by."
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:20 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe it was Orr from Catch-22 (if it was someone else, please tell me), who was determined to be as bored as possible for his life. Given how slow time passes when bored, this would make him nearly immortal.

I always thought that was the ultimate time hacking (thought) experiment.
posted by Hactar at 11:55 PM on February 9, 2011


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