It seems like just yesterday that we were welcoming in the new year but yet here we are already halfway through this crazy (and I’m sure we could all agree that it has been pretty crazy) year. Sometimes it really does feel like time flies and I remember as child it always seemed to feel that it went by so slowly; a year felt like a lifetime! This is because as children we are constantly experiencing new things and taking in new information on a daily basis. Yet as we get older time seems to go by much faster, but time itself hasn’t actually gone faster or slower it is just our perception of time that has changed.
So as I was wondering about how as humans our perceptions of time may differ and it got me thinking about animals and what time might feel like to them.
Now, you may wonder how we could possibly get into to minds of animals and figure out how they see the world around them, but there are some incredibly clever people out there that can measure how an animal can perceive time by measuring brain function and how quickly they are able to process sensory information. To do this they use Critical Flicker Fusion, which is the frequency at which a flickering light is perceived as continuous light. A study led by scientists from Trinity College Dublin has shown that this frequency varies from animal to animal and is linked to their body size and pace of life.
They discovered that smaller animals such as the Tree Squirrel are able to process information at a much quicker rate because their brain functions at a higher frequency, which means that they are likely to see the world around them at a much slower rate. (To us humans this would be like watching a movie in slow motion). This allows them to be able to react faster in times of danger.
Larger animals like an elephant though process sensory information at a much slower rate, so their brain frequency will be lower resulting in time moving at a faster rate.
This also may explain why it can be so incredibly difficult to swat a fly. Although a diminutive insect, the same concept would apply to the fly. With being so small its brain will work at a higher frequency as it has to be able to process information very quickly so as to be able to make quicker decisions and react quickly in order to not be eaten or squished by the fly swatter. They are most likely seeing the swatter coming at them in slow motion which allows them to make a quick escape and carry on annoying us by buzzing around our heads.
Maybe the more information we all try to take in, the slower time might seem to go. Now how do we just speed up 2020 so we can be done with it?