Time is one of those things that there never seems to be enough of. It is
real, and it affects people's lives. Yet at the same time, it's a hard thing to
grasp. People try to measure it. They try to catch it. They are engaged in a
perpetual process of trying to save it and keep it. The fact is that time cannot
truly be caught. A number of fascinating theories surrounding time exist. Time
is rich with facts and beliefs as is any study, but it is also one of the more
difficult studies to understand because studying time requires understanding it.
And understanding time fully is something that no one has truly reached. That
does not keep people from trying, and a number of fascinating facts have come
out of these studies as people have tried to make the most of the time they have
and understand the way that it influences people.
15) Benjamin Franklin Proposed a Daylight Savings Type Solution But He Did Not
Invent Daylight Savings
Back in the ancient times, there was no real concept of
daylight savings time. Time was a somewhat flexible notion, and people generally
measured time through the noon point. However, even then, there were significant
differences. It was not until Benjamin Franklin that anyone really started
considering the possibility that time could be better handled through shifting
the perception of it.
Benjamin Franklin first proposed the idea to France while visiting during his
service as an American envoy. He submitted a letter anonymously to the newspaper that recommended people save
money on candles by getting up earlier when the sun rose earlier. However, this
was as far as he took it.
The invention of the railway and instant communication is what brought about
the requirement for a more consistent handling of time. Their effective use
required a standardization unlike anything that the world had ever seen. George
Vernon Hudson enjoyed collecting insects, but he only had a short amount of time
in which to do it. During the shifting seasons, he found that it was rarely
consistent. He wanted very much to be free from his job with enough time to be
able to pursue his hobby. He eventually decided that the best solution was to
propose a daylight savings shift. Hudson developed an extensive paper and proposed it to the Wellington
Philosophical Society of New Zealand, his home in 1898.
Another popular account as to how Daylight Savings Time came to be was that
an Englishman named William Willett found himself annoyed at how much daylight
and time was wasted during certain months. He disliked losing part of his day to
the darkness. So he published his own proposal in 1905. He requested that
Daylight Savings be implemented. The House of Commons received the Daylights
Savings Bill, and committees were set up. The bill fell, and Willett spent the
rest of his days fighting for its acceptance until his death in 1915.
Daylight savings eventually started throughout several countries in response
to World War I. The purpose was, as Benjamin Franklin originally put it, to save
candles and resources. Germany is credited as being the first to officially
adopt it. The United States adopted it in 1918, although not all of the states
agreed to accept it.
14) The Length of a Day Increases Gradually Over the Years
The length of a day is actually
increasing as time passes. It is estimated that by 140 million years
from the current century, a single day will last approximately 25 hours.
Discovery also puts the way that time increases more precisely. It states that a
single second can be measured as 1/86,400 of a day. The effects of the tide on
the sun and the moon cause decreases in the planet's rotation. This in turn
causes increases in the length of the days. The length is by no means
substantial. In fact, it's only 3 milliseconds per single century. Over time,
that apparently adds up. They estimate that back in the Jurassic period, a day
was only 23 hours long. This does not, however, take into account the fact that
weather can also change the passage of time. During hurricanes and events like
El Nino, winds slow down the Earth's rotational pull by fractions of
milliseconds for each 24 hours of storm. Scientists have started adding the
"leap second" on every few years to make sure that Earth remains in sync with
time and the planet's rotation.
13) Leap Year Was Invented to Avoid Date Drifting
leap year is generally credited to Julius Caesar. He developed it around 45 or
46 BC and requested that an extra ten days be placed in the calendar months. He
also decided that the single intercalary day had to take the place of the entire
month. This particular day would only occur every few years, and it was to take
place during the end of February.
At the time of his conclusion, Julius Caesar did not realize the precise
length of a single year. A single year is actually
365.24219. By requiring a set year in which an extra day is given, calendars
could be brought back into alignment. Otherwise, dates drifted significantly.
Of course, Julius Caesar's choice for February was not entirely without its
share of hedonism. In the Roman culture, February was the final month of the
year. It was actually a time of great celebration. The last days of the festival
were among the finest, and so Julius Caesar extended the greatest party day to
include an extra number of hours to set the world back on the proper course of
time. Later on Pope Gregory XIII would release his own Gregorian calendar that
corrected some of the issues with Julius Caesar's calendar. That is actually the
one that people use today.
12) The Railroad System Forced Standardized Time Zones
For centuries, each individual town and city had monitored its own time, if time was kept at all. In
most of the European countries as well as the United States and Canada, people
set their clocks by the current local time. This meant that every single city
and town had a different time. For awhile, this worked fine. However, just as
Daylight Savings fired the imagination once again because of railroads and
increased communication, railroads and increased communications increased the
demand for standardized time zones.
The first incident of standardized time zones took place in Britain.
The Railway Clearing House recommended that a
general time zone be adopted across all of Britain so that there could be
uniformity and they could increase efficiency. The Statutes Act, also known as
the Definition of Time Act, passed in 1880. Standard time in the United States and Canada took significantly more
work. The majority of Congressmen believed that time of day was purely local.
They did not believe that the federal government could force such a change, and
they were loathe to do so as well. William Lambert, an astronomer, spearheaded
the movement in the United States to establish specific time zones. He developed
a number of proposals along with the railway stations, insisting that it would
create greater levels of effectiveness and participation. At first, this was
still met with great existence. In fact, for a time, people could buy watches
that had local time and railway time so that the individual cities and towns
could maintain their own time zones. People soon realized that this was a lot of
extra work. Instead of following this, they decided to develop particular time
zones with clearly stated markings of each location. This way there could be
greater efficiency, and there would still be some degree of local control.
11) If Time Stops, Life Stops
A number of science fiction shows and movies
have attempted to demonstrate what happens if time stops. That's not something
that most people want to contemplate, and several theories exist. One of the more intriguing theories about what will happen if
time stops is that everything will just immediately freeze. This particular
theory was proposed by three scientists in Spain. They state that the appearance
of expansion within the cosmos is nothing more than an illusion. As time slows,
it looks as if it goes on forever. Through their mathematical calculations,
these scientists believe that everything will stop at one point, and at that
time, it will remain stopped because movement cannot occur without time.
The Scientific American has also determined that this research is probably
sound. It states that there is evidence that time will at one point stop and
that it makes sense, given the fact that time did not at one point exist. It
describes it as being the paradox of time. Previously, most people assumed that
time would continue forever, but Einstein's theory of relativity altered that
perception. The question of what will happen, though, is one that they debate.
They state that it is possible that at the death of time another greater and
more timeless form of physics will develop, but there is no evidence to back
this theory up.
10) Perceptions of Time Vary By Country and Individual
Every person has the
same amount of time in a day. However, the way that it is used changes the way
that is perceived and handled. Researchers measured the activities and responses of people who lived in the
three fastest paced cities in the world versus those who lived in the three
slowest. What they discovered was that the individuals whom they observed did
not actually have more to accomplish necessarily, but the people who acted as if
they had more time actually had more time ultimately. They were less rushed and
harried than their fast paced counterparts. This does not mean that time can be
magically expanded, but it does indicate the importance of perception and
priority in terms of handling the stress and the like.
This particular observation is even more striking when taken into the global
community. People notice significant differences when comparing how time is
handled in countries like the United States and Jamaica. However, the
consequences go beyond this. Different
countries measure time in different units. It states that in the United States,
most people measure time in five minutes, but in Iran, fifteen minutes is usual.
The intriguing part about this is that it was not any one particular task that
led people to perceive these matters differently. It was just the standard unit
of time that people measured from. It is also an indicator of a faster paced
culture, and it is one that can wear people out significantly faster.
9) No One Second Takes Longer, But Your Brain Can Lead You to Think It Is
Most people are convinced that second hands take longer to tick when they are
watching. This is incorrect, but it is the perception of watching a second that
makes it seem that way. Brain guided imaging studies have revealed that people tend to see
things backwards because the eyes must shift back and forth. During this time,
the brain must fill in the gaps. The only way that it can do this is through
creating what is best described as an elongated second. The second still takes
just as long, but it looks longer.
8) It's Better to Overestimate Time
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam as well as those at the Setting
Time Aright conference agreed that the perception of time's pleasure depends on
how much it takes and how closely that meets the expectations. If you say that
you must complete a task within an hour, and you are able to complete it within
fifteen minutes, you are likely to regard it as being significantly more
pleasurable than you would if it had taken you the entire hour. The same is also
true. When a task takes significantly longer to complete, then the pleasure
drastically diminishes. This explains why people become so agitated with one another when someone is
only a few minutes late. In the larger scheme of things, it actually isn't that
big of a difference, but it feels like one. This is one of the illusions of
time. This is also why most amusement parks and restaurants will try to make
sure that they tell you that they think things will last significantly longer
than they will.
7) Not Everyone Has Had a Seven Day Week
The seven day week started out in
Mesopotamia. Because they based their calendar off the new moon, the weeks had
seven days in them. The seventh days were always days of celebration. Although they did not realize it at the time, Frierich Delitzsch went on to demonstrate that a seven day week was one that did
accurately represent a quarter of a lunation. Other cultures have attempted
different weeks. The Han Dynasty started off
with five and ten day weeks. France attempted a 10 day work week as well, but
they returned to the seven day when they saw the effect that it had on the
people. The Soviet Union also tried to develop a different formation, but they
abandoned it within a number of years.
6) Gravity Affects the Passage of Time
Einstein was one of the first to
actually demonstrate that gravity makes time pass more slowly. This means that when airplane passengers fly where gravity is at its
weakest, they age a little more on the flight. The aging is, of course, only in
nanoseconds, but they are still aging faster. The phenomenon itself is known as
gravitational time dilation. This
phenomenon can be proven by the aging and counting of two atomic clocks.
Scientists have gone through numerous steps to demonstrate both the theory of
general relativity as well as the dilation of time.
Einstein Time and Gravity:
(Photo Credit: NASA)
One of the interesting things about this, though, is that all global
positioning units must be corrected for this phenomenon. The largest sources of
experiments were those related to the white dwarf star Sirius B.
5) Everybody Experiences Time in a Unique Way
No two people will experience one single moment in the same way. This is
partially due to the fact that everyone is doing something different with the
time that they have, and it is also due to the fact that individual perception
colors time just as much as its actual passage. The consciousness of an
individual adds just as much to the passage of time and its fullness or
emptiness as regular time. This
was demonstrated with Einstein's theory of relativity as well as Isaac Newton's
theories on the passage of time. It goes on to state that time as it is measured
by atomic clocks and the like is not the most important time at all. Rather an
individual's own measuring of time and its responses is the most important time.
4) Time is the Fourth Dimension Humans Cannot See
People are three dimensional creatures. Individuals are locked into their
particular dimensional sets. A one dimensional being cannot perceive a third
dimensional being and so on. Time, however, is the fourth dimension. Humans can perceive length, height, and width because they
are three dimensional creatures. If they were fourth dimensional creatures, then
time could be seen. Because humans cannot see it, all it can register are the
markings of time and its effect. The fact that
humans are three dimensional is also what keeps them moving in one direction
through time rather than multiple directions. The current research proposes that
if science could find a way to make humans capable of experiencing the fourth
dimension in a more interactive way, then time travel and the reversal of aging
would be possible.
3) People Always Live in the Past
forever live in the past. According to this theory, every person is living at
least 80 milliseconds in the past. The example that the author gives asks that
readers place their one hand to their nose and the other hand on their feet at
the same time. It appears to be simultaneous. However, David Eagleman points out
that it is impossible for these two actions to occur simultaneously. It is
necessary for your body to transmit the impulse to your feet farther than it
does to your nose. He claims that the result indicates that human consciousness
sometimes creates delays so that it is possible for things to occur
This theory has a great deal of authority. It
indicates the importance of the passage of time as well as the misperceptions
that people make in interpreting life. People cannot be conscious of the
impulses passing through their nerves, nor can they be aware of every fractional
and minute operation of their bodies. As such, some amount of misperception is
2) Consciousness Requires Imagination
Scene from "Back to the Future":
More specifically, consciousness of
time requires the ability to imagine that there are other times. Malcolm MacIver,
one of the conference participants at Setting Time Aright used this to
distinguish and describe why time and consciousness are so essential. He goes on
to point out that it is not necessary that people have a full big picture of
time. It is the ability to contemplate the possibilities of time and other times
that allow people to be conscious. This is what separates humanity from animals.
Animals and plants do not contemplate in their consciousness. They merely choose
something based on instincts. Man often fights
his instincts. In fact, time will seem to pass slower when one is fighting one's
instincts. However, it is the ability to imagine and to conceive that creates
consciousness and allows people to live.
1) False Memories Can Be as Real as Real Ones
In a series of studies,
researchers decided to test participants to determine the reality of their
memories. Some of these participants were
hooked up to lie detector tests and other tools to gauge their indicators.
Through this, they could monitor all of the signs that would otherwise indicate
that the person was knowingly lying. The experiment continued, and the
participants were asked to recount their visits to Disney Land. During the
course of this experiment, an image was flashed in front of them revealing Bugs
Bunny waving while standing next to Mickey Mouse. The participants were then
asked whether they got their picture taken with Bugs Bunny or whether they
enjoyed seeing Bugs Bunny there that day. The majority of the participants
stated that they had. The truth telling machines did not register any lies, even
though it was impossible for the participants to have seen Bugs Bunny and Mickey
Mouse together at Disney Land.
This study and other similar ones have
demonstrated that people fill in the gaps of their memories with details that
they can obtain at the time the memory is needed. The brain does not recall
every facet of information. Instead, it files it away with the major pieces
intact. Yet even those major pieces can sometimes be deleted or rearranged. When
trying to remember something, people will remember things in the way that most
makes sense. In some cases, this results in false narratives. Rewriting your
history can take a great deal of effort, but it can be done. Most people do it
on a significantly smaller scale, and the perceived memories can have just as
great an effect as the actual occurrence.
Even in law, eyewitness testimony is not nearly as valuable as most people
assume. Harvard Law Review published the account of a suicidal man in the New
York subway. In front of more than a hundred witnesses, he ran out and leaped in
front of the train. He was killed on impact. The police arrived, and they took
statements from all of the people there. This particular scenario should have
been one of the most perfect scenarios for determining the ability of people to
be objective in their perceptions of time and consciousness. Yet that was not
the case. While there were many key similarities, everyone who gave a testimony
had a different perception. Some claimed that the man had just fallen in while
others stated that he leaped a great distance in. There were even discrepancies
about what he was wearing even though everyone saw the precise same events.
Perception and consciousness work together along with the perception of time
to create memories. Through recalling, people are unable to always remember it
correctly, and their memories fill in the gaps with what makes the most sense to
"The Biography of Benjamin Franklin,"
"On Seasonal Time Adjustments,"
"16 Facts About Time That Could Blow Your Mind,"
"Day Light Savings Changes"
"Leap Year Day,"
"History of Daylight Savings,"
"The Babylonian Calendar."
"Eight Days a Week?,"