It’s time for a magic trick.
There's no deck of cards for this trick though.
Time is a bit of a mystery to us humans. Physical time and our perception of time are hardly ever properly aligned.
We are subject to things called temporal illusions.
A temporal illusion is where something impacts your perception of time, to either slow it down or speed it up. It is nothing to do with physical time, it is a psychological phenomenon.
Have you ever experienced something and it felt like it was going in slow motion? That's a temporal illusion. You know when you’re doing something really exciting and it feels like it is over in a flash? That's also a temporal illusion.
Temporal illusions come in many forms and are triggered by a variety of different things.
In this article I am going to very briefly talk about two of them. The Kappa Effect, and Chronostasis. There are others but these I just found to be really interesting and thought I would share. Hopefully, I’m not the only person in the world that finds it interesting but, I guess we are about to find out.
No, I’m not talking about a certain italian sportswear brand, nor am I talking about a Yokai Demon found in traditional Japanese folklore.
The Kappa Effect is a temporal illusion that can, and has been, replicated and verified by experiment.
The Kappa Effect refers to times when the time between a sequence of consecutive stimuli is seemingly longer, or shorter, than the amount of physical time that has actually passed.
The most common way of explaining the Kappa Effect is, think of 2 trains. They both take exactly the same amount of time to reach their destination but, one has more distance to cover than the other. As a result of the difference in actual distance, it feels like the train that goes the furthest is the one that takes the longest even though they both take the same amount of time.
Sometimes called the stopped clock illusion. This is where the first impression after the introduction of some new event or task seems to be extended in time.
The brain pays special attention the first time around and spends more time processing the events. This can lead to a feeling of time slowing.
According to some brainboxes that are far smarter than I, Chronostasis appears to occur as a result of a disconnection between visual input and perception. They think that it is triggered by quick eye movement, saccades is the proper term for that, which messes up the flow of information. The research on this is still in its infancy and needs greater, more in depth study to fully understand.
When your eyes move rapidly from one position to another there is a gap in your visual perception. Your brain doesn’t like that. Not one bit. As a result, it fills in the gaps with what it thinks is likely to have been there. This causes further delay in your perception.
When you look at a clock you see the second hand ticking away. If you look away, then rapidly look back you will likely notice that the first second, that first tick, seems to take longer than those that follow. This is the delay I mentioned. It’s your brain trying to fill in the gaps between what you were looking at and the clock itself. This is why it is sometimes called the stopped clock illusion.
I’d like to think that I’m not going mad. Having experienced these things for myself, as you will likely have too, it made me feel like I was losing my mind a little. Having done a fair amount of research into it I am offered some comfort in the form of not being insane, so that’s nice.
Throughout human history temporal illusions were responsible for a great many tales of paranormal activities and abilities, as well as inspiration for countless stories. Probably a fair amount of less pleasant things too.
In this day and age though, they are mostly responsible for low levels of confusion and the fascination of people like me.
With all the distractions and attention hungry ‘things’ in our lives these days, I would imagine that these temporal illusions are probably more common than ever, although, don’t quote me on that as it's just a thoughtful musing of mine and not in any way tested.
Written By Mike on 29.03.2021