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Two posts about time from opposite ends of the spectrum

I was very hesitant to start my book with the thorny discussion of the nature of time; in fact, I always broached the subject in my sound classes last in the semester, just because the discussion was so thorny. But what we do as sound artists is essentially manipulate our audiences’ perception of time, so how could I justify starting the book without an inquiry into the subjective nature of time? Now comes two articles that drive home the basics conundrum of time…


First up, as the Huffington Post reports from psychologists at the University of Michigan, is the phenomenon that we tend to perceive time as moving faster as we age. These researchers suggest the reason for this is that a week is a much smaller portion of an 80 year old's life than an 8 year old's. I've always reasoned along a similar argument, that I perceive time as moving faster because I am inherently aware that I have so little time left on this planet compared to an 8 year old. In either case, however, we should recall that time is subjective, and different for every individual, so the crux of our discussion is not that time seems to move faster, but really does move faster! Here's the article: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/time-perception-aging_l_63973dc2e4b0169d76d92560.


The second article drives home this point, but from the opposite end of the time spectrum. As NPR reports, time moves faster in Boulder CO than it does at sea level, because gravity stretches time. So atomic clocks have to be constantly corrected to fix this problem. Notice that I didn't suggest time had to be corrected; the time is correct in both locations. Instead, the clocks have to be adjusted just to create a condition in which everyone agrees on what time it is! Here's the story: https://www.npr.org/2022/12/16/1139780043/what-is-time-physics-atomic-clocks-society


So, how do we "adjust" the 8 year old's clock to match mine? That's probably a question many young parents would like to have figured out! In the meantime, it helps to remind ourselves constantly that "...the forward passage of time is mostly a human construct," as physicist John Kitching says.


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Thanks to Ben Chappell for sending this link to a nice playlist from the Fermi Lab that helps explain relativity in simple lay-person terms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Txv7V_nY2eg.

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