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“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flown. How did it get so late so soon?”
― Dr. Seuss
Time is a fundamental dimension of the human experience. We use it to coordinate our lives, organise our memories and to make plans. Culturally we think of time as an unstoppable linear flow. Although a problematic concept in physics, we have perfected measuring it, and developed a refined “sense of time” as a mandatory tool for a healthy personal life and professional success.
Our subjective experience of time is however very different from how time is measured. Psychologists and social scientists agree that our experience of time speeds up with age. In a recent scientific study published in the “European Review,” Professor Adrian Bejan presented an argument based on the physics of neural signal processing. He hypothesized that, over time, the rate at which we process visual information slows down, and that this is what makes time ‘speed up’ as we grow older.
He argues that: “As we age, the size and complexity of the networks of neurons in our brains increases – electrical signals must traverse greater distances and thus signal processing takes more time. Moreover, ageing causes our nerves to accumulate damage that provides resistance to the flow of electric signals, further slowing processing time.” Focusing on visual perception, Bejan suggests that slower processing times result in us perceiving fewer ‘frames-per-second’ – more actual time passes between the perception of each new mental image. This is what leads to time passing more rapidly.
It is within this context that Corné Eksteen, who is turning 50, explores his own personal subjective experience of time speeding up. He uses the number 50 and all its