The Truth about Time

February 5th, 2013

When I moved to North Dakota over a year ago I quickly noticed something really unusual: time goes faster here. I literally mean that time flies in North Dakota. I was perplexed for a while why this was.

Was I busier? No, actually, I had more free-time. I then thought maybe it was because I was feeling more fulfilled than ever before, thus making the moments more joyous and easing the times of comparative suffering. But as I brought this observation up to other people, pretty much everyone agreed with me: Time moves faster in North Dakota. Each week Friday arrives and I wonder where in the heck the week went. This is my feeling EVERY SINGLE week.

Anyway, shortly after making this observation I watched a documentary about the feasibility of time travel. (Yes, I’m a science documentary nerd and by the way, the Hollywood version of time travel really isn’t feasible according to current understanding of time) Time, of course, was the main topic. And they began the show talking about how time works. Basically, you have to think of time passing the same way you might think of wind. So it should come as no surprise then that the greater mass an object has, the slower time “moves” past it. You might think of tree breaks in windy areas that are designed to slow the wind down. Well time is the same way. If there are objects of large mass around time passes more slowly as compared to time as it passes around smaller objects. In fact (and I found this REALLY interesting), satellites have to have their clocks manually adjusted back to account for the fact that further out in space (farther away from the earth, an object of exceptional mass), time is passing much more quickly.

So back to North Dakota. What do we have around here that would “slow” the passage of time? Not a whole lot. What would you have in mountainous country to slow time? Mountains and trees, of course. What do you have in cities and more populated areas? Buildings. So in places where there are many objects of large mass, time is passing more slowly because, quite literally, the large objects are slowing down time. Having lived in metropolitan areas, mountainous areas, and the Piedmont I can attest to the differences in the passage of time.

Here on the prairie, however, there’s not much around to slow time down and that’s why time goes by much more quickly. You can literally experience time passing faster.

Maybe that’s another reason why I like it here so much. Experiences are quicker. Suffering passes much more swiftly making it seem less signifcant. It’s not that suffering doesn’t affect me, but it feels like I change and adapt to it more quickly. Had I not experienced time passing more slowly in other places, I’d never have picked up on it. Like everything else, you have to experience differing time-speeds to really get how time seems to affect experience so strongly.

Isn’t science cool?

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