1. “Time” has not always existed.
The theory of relativity suggests that before the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, space and time did not exist and matter was packed together in a tiny ball.
Since time is measured by motion in space, there was no time without moving cosmos.
2. Time on Earth is actually slowing down.
Due to tidal friction from the sun and moon, the solar day is lengthening by 1.7 milliseconds each century as the Earth’s rotation slows down.
3. Dinosaurs had to fit a full day’s work into just 23 hours.
In 140 million years, a day on Earth is expected to last 25 hours.
4. Cultural background affects our perception of time.
Time perception differs dramatically across the globe. For example, Americans tend to think about time in 5-minute increments, while Middle Easterners do so in 15-minute increments.
This means that an American’s five minute siesta and a Middle Easterner’s fifteen minute siesta are actually experienced as the same length of time.
5. Elevator design has a lot to do with how we process time.
Idle time seems to pass more slowly than occupied time, which is why so many elevators are mirrored, inside and out. As buildings grew taller and elevator waits longer, builders began installing mirrors to give people something to look at while they waited.
6. When the second hand appears to take longer than a second to tick, your brain is to blame!
Brain imaging studies have shown that our perception of time stretches backwards when our eyes shift from one point to another. Our brains “fill in the gap,” creating the illusion of an elongated second.
7. When it comes to choosing the fastest line, our instincts lead us astray.
When choosing between a long but fast-moving line and a shorter, slower-moving line, people more often choose the shorter line, even when the wait times are identical.
8. Science shows FAIRNESS is key when it comes to wait tolerance.
The New York Times reported that people waiting in line to buy concert tickets were outraged by sneaky cutters both in front of and behind them.
9. Fairness may be important, but being lied to works best.
Psychologist Aaron Sackett revealed that overestimating how long you’ll be doing a task improves how enjoyable it seems after the fact.
That’s why theme parks manage expectations by giving overestimated projected wait times.
This is also why UNDERESTIMATING how long you’ll make someone wait for you is not such a good idea.
10. We’d rather wait longer in one line than face the pressure to choose the “fastest” line.
Surveys reveal that people are willing to wait twice as long in fast food restaurants that stick to a “first-come-first-serve” single-line model than in shorter multi-line scenarios because seeing others beat you to the checkout counter is stressful.
For more about checkout-line injustice, see this article.
11. Everyone says “time flies when you’re having fun,” but this may not be true!
A study showed that people felt like time passed more slowly when listening to music they enjoyed more. This might be because people pay more attention to things they like, which in turn may slow their perception of time.
12. Trying to regulate emotion stretches our perception of time.
Time passes more slowly when fighting against our instincts.
13. The Soviet Union experimented with 5 and 6-day weeks between 1929 and 1931.
Not surprisingly, the experiment failed miserably and the 7-day week was reinstated in 1940.
14. Time flies faster in the sky.
The denser the gravitational field, the slower the passage of time. That means that a second at lower altitudes (like at sea level) is actually nanoseconds longer than a second at higher altitudes (like in an airplane).
15. According to quantum theory, the shortest period of time that can exist is 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 second.
This is known as “Planck Time.”
16. Like all good things, time will come to an end….maybe?
Although the theory of relativity suggests that the universe will expand infinitely, some theoretical physicists predict that time will end within the next 4 billion years.
But not to worry! The jury is still out.