Posts tagged time

The Brain’s Now

Medium, Long Now, neuroscience, perception, time, memory, David Eagleman

Is “now” expandable? Why do you seem to experience time in slow motion in a sudden emergency, like an accident? Eagleman’s (terrifying) experiments show that in fact you don’t perceive more densely, the amygdala cuts in and records the experience more densely, so when the brain looks back at that dense record, it thinks that time must have subjectively slowed down, but it didn’t. “Time and memory are inseparable.” This also explains why time seems to speed up as you age. A child experiences endless novelty, and each summer feels like it lasted forever. But you learn to automatize everything as you age, and novelty is reduced accordingly, apparently speeding time up. All you have to do to feel like you‘re living longer, with a life as rich as a child’s, is to never stop introducing novelty in your life.


Live asynchronously.

Medium, attention, process, collaboration, work, time, asynchronous, availability

Last year I turned off all my notifications. I stopped booking meetings. I started living asynchronously. Now instead of being interrupted throughout the day—or rushing from one meeting to the next—I sit down and get work done. I work a lot. I communicate with hundreds of people a day. I collaborate extensively. But I do so on my own terms, at my own tempo. You can live more asynchronously, too. I’ll explain the benefits. I’ll show you how.


The spatial implications of chronophotography—which visually shatters the passage of time into a series of discrete moments…

photography, time, chronophotography

“The spatial implications of chronophotography—which visually shatters the passage of time into a series of discrete moments extracted from an event-sequence of otherwise unfixed length and duration—leads to a reference, in a text on Chard’s website, to the fact that criminologists, physicists, and even paranormal investigators all also began to use “the emerging potential of photography to further their research.” In the process, those researchers “developed new sorts of architecture particular to the demands and opportunities of the medium and the way they were using [them]. There are many research institutions that display the emergence of a new architecture with very little typological precedent.””

Time, Photography, and Spatial Devices (viaiamdanw)

Does Language Influence Culture?

Language, culture, thought, time, causality, WSJ

Pormpuraawans, we found, arranged time from east to west. That is, seated facing south, time went left to right. When facing north, right to left. When facing east, toward the body, and so on. Of course, we never told any of our participants which direction they faced. The Pormpuraawans not only knew that already, but they also spontaneously used this spatial orientation to construct their representations of time. And many other ways to organize time exist in the world’s languages. In Mandarin, the future can be below and the past above. In Aymara, spoken in South America, the future is behind and the past in front. In addition to space and time, languages also shape how we understand causality.


Scientists find evidence for ‘chronesthesia,’ or mental time travel

neuroscience, time travel, chronesthesia, mental imagery, time, perception

The ability to remember the past and imagine the future can significantly affect a person’s decisions in life. Scientists refer to the brain’s ability to think about the past, present, and future as “chronesthesia,” or mental time travel, although little is known about which parts of the brain are responsible for these conscious experiences. In a new study, researchers have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of mental time travel and better understand the nature of the mental time in which the metaphorical “travel” occurs.–12-scientists-evidence-chronesthesia-mental.html

Version control, collaborative editing and undo

eve, programming, versioning, dvcs, editing, collaborative editing, time

Eve is designed for live programming. As the user makes changes, the compiler is constantly re-compiling code and incrementally updating the views. The compiler is designed to be resilient and will compile and run as much of the code as possible in the face of errors. The structural editor restricts partially edited code to small sections, rather than rendering entire files unparseable. The pointer-free relational data model and the timeless views make it feasible to incrementally compute the state of the program, rather than starting from scratch on each edit. We arrived at this design to support live programming but these properties also help with collaborative editing.

Interview with a fungus

Diane Brooks Pleninger, fungi, plants, biosphere, humans, ecology, history, time, fermentation

“Our members do not recoil from the future. We believe that life on earth is embarked on a unique trajectory, one that will not be repeated. We believe that the outward journey has entailed a long and intricate interweaving of the interests of all living things. We believe that the homeward path will entail the systematic unweaving of those threads. We believe we are eminently suited for a role in this process.”

What Is Ritual?

ritual, culture, society, religion, rationality, irrationality, time, sacrifice, performance, bondin

Time is the default sacrifice. It is the measure of sacrifice that underlies our complex economic order, so it is no surprise that it also underlies our ritual order. In religions that have a Sabbath, an entire day of productivity is sacrificed to God every week. Every ceremony involves the sacrifice of the time of participants; often, ceremonies involve the sacrifice of time by high-status persons. An arraignment is a ceremony in which the legitimacy of a person’s incarceration is established; not much information is exchanged, but the ceremony requires sacrifice in the form of a grand courtroom built for the purpose, as well as the time of grand personages such as the judge and two attorneys. Ritual attendants such as court reporters and bailiffs are required as well. The sacred value of “justice” is understood to be the target of these sacrifices.

The Twitter Account That Unravels Time

time, twitter, automation, linear, algopop

“It’s 4:24am and I’m in bed watching a documentary about a chimpanzee named Nim.” “It’s 2.19pm and I am pretty sure I am still drunk.” “It’s 11:51pm and all I want is an entire pumpkin pie okay.” “It’s 10:12am and THERE ARE STILL NO BISCUITS. Wtf is this anarchy!? "It’s 9:57am and kyle and I are sobbing while watching cheaper by the dozen 2.” “It’s 1:31pm and he hasn’t texted me back from last night. I give up.” “its 10:29am and i already want pizza.” “It’s 3.11am and I’m sober in Burger King. What’s happening?” “It’s 9:23am and I can’t wait to taste wines tonight!” “it’s 2:32pm and I woke up like 5 minutes ago.” “Its 2:50am and I’m still doing homework.” “It’s 11:29am and I’ve only just realised I’ve had my t-shirt on backwards the whole morning.” “It’s 3.12am and I’m cooking supernoodles. what my life.” “It’s 7:32am and I am listening to R Kelly very loudly. Where did it all go wrong?”

Overwhelmed | Brigid Schulte

overwhelmed, book, doing nothing, time pressure, time, work, play, leisure

Overwhelmed is a book about time pressure and modern life. It is a deeply reported and researched, honest and often hilarious journey from feeling that, as one character in the book said, time is like a “rabid lunatic” running naked and screaming as your life flies past you, to understanding the historical and cultural roots of the overwhelm, how worrying about all there is to do and the pressure of feeling like we’re never have enough time to do it all, or do it well, is “contaminating” our experience of time, how time pressure and stress is resculpting our brains and shaping our workplaces, our relationships and squeezing the space that the Greeks said was the point of living a Good Life: that elusive moment of peace called leisure.

How To Waste Time Properly

time, inspriation, distraction, procrastination, doing nothing, hedonic adaptation

Brent Coker, who studies online behavior at the University of Melbourne in Australia, found that people who engage in “workplace Internet leisure browsing” are about 9 percent more productive than those who don’t. Last year, Jonathan Schooler, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara published with his doctoral student Benjamin Baird a study called Inspired by Distraction. It concluded that “engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving.”

Panarchy and pace in the big back loop

panarchy, time, pace layering, reflection, turbulence, innovation, revolt

What can we learn by mapping pace against panarchy? Picture a stack of adaptive cycles, with frantic fashion at the bottom, and nature’s biophysical processes, broad and slow, at the top. Reaching from each cyclic layer down to the next is an arrow labeled “remember,” for memory is an important influence that slower cycles exert on faster ones. And stretching from each cycle up to the next is the arrow “revolt,” representing the actions that, in the time of the back loop – of release and subsequent renewal – can enact structural shifts in the cycles above.

The Challenge of Photography

photography, time, ostranenie, defamiliarization, art, perception

Photography does not lend itself to defamiliarization easily, thus making it the unlikeliest of all art forms. As it happens, the challenge plays out on both sides of the process, for photographers and viewers. What happened to be in front of a camera lens can be found depicted in the resulting photograph. However, given the process itself and its myriad of choices, the photograph is little more than a manipulated two-dimensional representation of what previously existed in four dimensions (three spatial, one – often forgotten – time).

How Music Hijacks Our Perception of Time

time, perception, music, neurophysiology

The human brain, we have learned, adjusts and recalibrates temporal perception. Our ability to encode and decode sequential information, to integrate and segregate simultaneous signals, is fundamental to human survival. It allows us to find our place in, and navigate, our physical world. But music also demonstrates that time perception is inherently subjective—and an integral part of our lives. “For the time element in music is single,” wrote Thomas Mann in his novel, The Magic Mountain. “Into a section of mortal time music pours itself, thereby inexpressibly enhancing and ennobling what it fills.”

The Quantum Mechanics of Fate

retrocausality, time, past, presetn, future, QM, physics, spacetime, arrow of time

As with so much else in quantum mechanics, this concept of retrocausality is limited in scope. Only in certain circumstances can we see the future influence the past. Although individual particle processes can move backward or forward in time, the universe as a whole is skewed in the forward direction, because its past endpoint was highly ordered, and its future endpoint is highly disordered. Our mortality is this asymmetry in microcosm.

Visualizing Cyclical Time – Hour of Day Charts

Doug McCune, visualisation, visualization, time, cyclic time, graph, plot, ringmap, 12h, 24h, day, n

This is the first part of a few blog posts on this topic. Apologies ahead of time if you don’t find the topic of visualizing the 24 hours of the day as fascinating as I do, but I’m going to take the time to fully geek out and focus in on this very specific problem in depth. This is Part 1: Explaining the Challenge and Reviewing the Status Quo. This is sort of like a lit review; it’s my attempt to consolidate everything I can find about how people are currently representing 24-hour cyclical data.

Homage to the Idols of Idleness

NYT, idleness, doing nothing, time, perception, structure, order, GTD, curiosity

Over the centuries, the illusion of mastering time through obedience to it came into acceptance. Across Europe, the medieval monastery’s bell tolled as a reminder to eat, sleep and pray. But while there must have been some soul’s release in relinquishing earthly sovereignty to that sound, as the clock’s authority spread, we sealed all the gaps through which curiosity might seep into our days. Curiosity, after all, could lure the susceptible way off track, as the Italian poet Petrarch learned in the spring of 1336, when he famously climbed Mont Ventoux, motivated by “nothing but the desire to see its conspicuous height.” One of the texts he carried along was Saint Augustine’s “Confessions,” detailing the moral dangers of such expeditions, when men “go out to admire the mountains,” or the course of the stars, and therein forget themselves. Chastened, Petrarch made his descent in silence.

Three Seconds: Poems, Cubes and the Brain

time, perception, medecine, neurophysiology, Jalees Rehman, Ernst Pöppel

The central, unifying theme of the institute was time. Not physical time, but biological and psychological time. How does our brain perceive physical time? What is the structure of perceived time? What regulates biological oscillations in humans, animals and even algae? Can environmental cues modify temporal perception? The close proximity of so many disciplines made for fascinating coffee-break discussions, forcing us to re-evaluate our own research findings in the light of the discoveries made in neighboring labs and inspired us to become more creative in our experimental design.

Creative People Say No

creativity, time, focus

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.–1/bad7c34842a2

Changing the past in open systems

programming, live coding, retroactive update, self adjusting computation, liminal, time, counterfact

One important step towards a more systematic approach to online update is to make the dimension of interaction explicit. This is one of the things I’ve focused on in my own research, which I call interactive programming, although that term has probably already been laid claim to. I allow the user to step sideways in time, into a “counterfactual” execution where it is “as though” the program had been written differently from the outset. Inspired by Demaine etal‘s retroactive data structures, which are imperative data structures which permit modifications to the historical sequence of operations performed on them, I’ll refer to this notion of online update as retroactive update. Retroactive update allows the “computational past” to be changed. Self-adjusting computation (SAC) is another system based on retroactive update. SAC explores another crucial aspect of online update: efficient update, via an algorithm called change propagation. SAC’s commitment to retroactivity appears in the correctness of change propagation, which is defined as consistency with a from-scratch run under the modified code.

Time’s Inverted Index (

time, history, digital, archives, mairix, search, stories, context

I was biasing the results by using full-text search to explore my email. I would look for the things I found interesting that day—searching on terms like “Google” or “literature” or “e-reader”—and see a chronological list of exactly what I said about those very terms. The pattern-seeking engine in my brain would fire on all cylinders and make a story of the searches, creating an unintentional email-chrestomathy, a greatest-hits collection of ideas I’d had around a single word or phrase. The results seemed weirdly definitive. I thought I was doing history in a mirror, but because the emails were pure matches for key terms, devoid of all but a little context, I fell for the historical fallacy

calendar, maya, 2012, time, date, timekeeping, BCE, CE

Joseph T. Goodman successfully deciphered the complicated system of the Maya calendar. He published his results in 1897, describing a “Long Count” system of a “count of days” based on several units or periods of increasingly larger size: the k'in (1 day), winal (20 days), tun (360 days), k'atun (7200 days), and bak'tun (144,000 days). The ancient Maya kept track of time using this system, which was combined with additional counts of 260 days (the tzolk'in) and 365 days (the haab) to produce Long Count dates. Goodman believed there was also a larger “Great Cycle” of 13 bak'tuns (1,872,000 days) and determined that the start of the present Great Cycle was on 4 Ajaw 8 Cumk'u (that is 13 bak'tunob, 0 k'atunob, 0 tunob, 0 winalob, and 0 k'inob, followed by counts on the tzolk'in and haab). Later scholarship showed that this was a sacred “Creation” date for the ancient Maya, who referred to it in their mythology as a kind of “birth” of the present world. The Gregorian equivalent of this date is August 11, 3114 BCE. The next day was, with each day clicking another unit in the count. According to scholars who support Goodman’s idea of a 13-bak'tun Great Cycle, the current period will conclude on 4 Ajaw 3 K'ank'in, the Gregorian equivalent of which is December 21, 2012 (or possibly December 23, or yet something else…)–2012-answers–13-questions

Falsehoods programmers believe about time

fallacies, code, programming, time

“I have repeatedly been confounded to discover just how many mistakes in both test and application code stem from misunderstandings or misconceptions about time. By this I mean both the interesting way in which computers handle time, and the fundamental gotchas inherent in how we humans have constructed our calendar — daylight savings being just the tip of the iceberg.”

Will the techno-optimists save the world? - Paul Gilding

optimism bias, optimism, time, environment, technology, TED, techno-optimism, sustainability, climat

Driven by their optimism bias, people use the clearly huge opportunity of technology to reassure themselves we won’t face a crisis. They believe any serious limits in the system will be avoided because technology will intervene and we’ll adapt. There are two reasons I think this is wrong and may actually be dangerous. Firstly, while technology has huge potential to address the issues we face, without strong price signals and other government support, large-scale technology change takes a very long time. We see this today where, though there are many programs supporting clean technology around the world, it is taking a long time – many decades – for this technology to have scale impact. This is the second reason the techno-optimists view is wrong, the science says we simply don’t have a long time. In fact we’re completely out of time, with the evidence clear that the ecosystem limits have already been breached. This is no longer forecasts but rather the measurement of today’s reality.

The Longest Photographic Exposures in History

photography, long exposure, Michael Wesely, pinhole, time

The German photography artist Michael Wesely has created even longer exposures using a self-built pinhole camera. He captured the light of his objects for up to 3 years.

The Longest Photographic Exposures in History - The Latest - itchy i

The Longest Photographic Exposures in History

The Longest Photographic Exposures in History - The Latest - itchy i

The Longest Photographic Exposures in History