Einstein on Time Perceptuion

“The conclusion is that the whole of those laws

of nature which have been woven into a

unified scheme – mechanics, gravitation, electrodynamics and optics – have their origin,

not in any special mechanism of nature,

but in the workings of the mind”

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington


The ebb and flow of time

Time Perception

We all have noticed that time drags when we want to get over with something, like getting home after a long commute, or getting out from work after a long day of dealing with difficult things, but also the reverse it’s true, the more busy you are the faster time seems to go by, I remember a particular job I did for three years, were my job was to take call, after call, as a customer service representative, not an easy job, but that I got to like it, because as I got used to, most of the times someone would come to me and tap me on the shoulder, to call my attention, and said, it’s time to go. And it seem to me that I had only been there three, or four hours, rather than eight!

Over a century ago, Albert Einstein postulated that a given time interval is registered differently by independent (moving) clocks. Interestingly, Einstein himself recognized the similarity between the relativity of physical and psychological time: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”  Einstein was literally talking about different temporal contexts providing different read-outs for the same physical interval. While relative time became the de-facto view in physics, the relativity of psychological time is still a matter for debate. For example, neuron-biological evidence suggests indeed that major time scales (millisecond, second-to-minutes, and circadian) are processes by different regions of the brain (e.g., cortex, cerebellum, striatum, and suprachiasmatic nucleus), it is still unclear whether everyday timing in the seconds-to-minutes range is performed by a single or rather multiple parallel mechanisms in the brain.

Time and Counsciousness

Real or absolute time does not exist – only local time(is), different for each observer.

Short list of types of temporal illusions:

  • Telescoping effect: People tend to recall recent events as occurring further back in time than they actually did (backward telescoping) and distant events as occurring more recently than they actually did (forward telescoping).[19]
  • Vierordt’s law: Shorter intervals tend to be overestimated while longer intervals tend to be underestimated
  • Time intervals associated with more changes may be perceived as longer than intervals with fewer changes
  • Perceived temporal length of a given task may shorten with greater motivation
  • Perceived temporal length of a given task may stretch when broken up or interrupted
  • Auditory stimuli may appear to last longer than visual stimuli
  • Time duration may appear longer with greater stimulus intensity (e.g., auditory loudness or pitch)
  • Simultaneity judgments can be manipulated by repeated exposure to non-simultaneous stimuli

Men's time journey

Time as Unreal

In 5th century BC Greece, Antiphon the Sophist, in a fragment preserved from his chief work On Truth, held that: “Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron).”Parmenides went further, maintaining that time, motion, and change were illusions, leading to the paradoxes of his follower Zeno. Time as an illusion is also a common theme in Buddhist thought.

J. M. E. McTaggarts 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea (see also The flow of time).

These arguments often center around what it means for something to be unreal. Modern physicists generally believe that time is as real as space, though others, such as Julian Barbour in his book The End of Time, argue that quantum equations of the universe take their true form when expressed in the timeless realm containing every possible now or momentary configuration of the universe, called ‘platonia’ by Barbour.

A modern philosophical theory called presentism views the past and the future as human-mind interpretations of movement instead of real parts of time (or “dimensions”) which coexist with the present. This theory rejects the existence of all direct interaction with the past or the future, holding only the present as tangible. This is one of the philosophical arguments against time travel. This contrasts with eternalism (all time: present, past and future, is real) and the growing block theory (the present and the past are real, but the future is not).

Time as an illusion

Our story: The Longest Night Of My life

There is a lot to talk about time, but this would have to be a book, and it’s just a post, so here it is my personal perception, and experience of how time can stretch to great lengths, it was many years ago, somewhere in December of 1973 just before Christmas and close to the Winter Solstice when nights are long, a friend of mine invited me to go and listen to a conference to a town 60 miles away from us, the conference would start at  8:30 PM and we would be living somewhere before 7:00 PM to arrive with plenty of time to find the place.

Having to teach a Yoga class at 6:AM the next day, decided to take a little nap somewhere at 4:00 PM that evening before leaving, expecting a long night ahead of us, but to be back before midnight. Woke up from my nap at 5:00 PM  and headed to the Yoga studio where we would meet to leave, at that time it was one of the shortest days of the year and I remember it was almost dark, and by the time that I arrived to the studio, 40 minutes after it was totally dark, and not only that, it started to rain, shortly as I left my home, very likely now day, I would had apologize to my friend and cancel the trip, but been young and excited about the conference the four of us we left as planed somewhere around 6:30 PM.

Half way down the way, with the rain some rocks had landslide in to the road, being dark and rainy my friend hit one of the rocks and had a flat  tire, and broke the ring of the wheel. It took us quite a while in the dark, and with the danger of other cars hitting us from behind to change the wheel. Needless to say by the time we could mount the spare tire we better should had turn the car around and go back home, but instead my friend the driver over optimistic  we fought traffic and the rain in the city, and once  when we finally got to the conference, we were able to listen the answer to the last question the speaker had, somewhere a little after 10:00 PM.

Landslide on a rainy night

My friend worried about not having a spare tire on our way back,  he went looking  with some of his relatives who lived in that town, for a spare tire, to begin with, the relatives lived at quite some distance, and that also took some time, and he not only pick up the tire but he talked to the relatives for an hour or so, finally we left back to our town and we arrived maybe at 2:00 AM, but of course they couldn’t drop me right away, they were hungry and wanted diner!

So we looked for a 24 hour place to eat,  and needless to say it was way past the time estimated we would be back by midnight, somewhere around 3:30 AM when they drop me home, went to bed immediately just after setting the alarm for 5:00 AM, after a brief sleep the alarm went off, and dressing up I went in to the wet, and muddy streets, rain was still pouring, and what strike me right at that moment as I walked to the class, through the poor lighted streets avoiding mud, and big pools of water, under the rain, how it was still dark, and despite traveling to a different town, and back, doing all the things we did, here I was walking the same path I did earlier a few hours before in darkness to meet my friends at the studio, but the night wasn’t over yet..!

Train ride though freezing temperatures

No doubt the night wasn’t longer than any other night around that time of the year, but so much events were sandwiched in between, including walking twice to the Yoga studio in darkness during the same cold, rainy night, that it stuck in my memory, neither was the toughest night of my life, as I have memories of hell, like spending the night on a train trip on the mountains in a freezing night without proper clothing, and no heating in the car compartment, this just been only the prelude of many subsequent nights on that trip, sleeping on cement floors, on top of cardboard, and the flimsiest of a sleeping bag, separating my body from the cement floor, on subfreezing weather for a whole month. And many other nights when I used to work night shift, or whatever many other occurrences through a life’s long journey.

Time perception is relative, maybe because so much was sandwiched in between, went on that night, and we wasted the night away without achieving anything of purpose, since waking up from my early nap in semidarkness, and not seeing the light of day after finishing the teaching of the class in the early morning. It stayed in my memory as a very long night, it was the longest night I remember maybe because it just stuck on my mind, to be that way. I am sure for all of us there have being similar occurrences, when time seem to stretch for ever, or at least an unusual length, for no other reason that we perceive it that way.



About theburningheart

Blog: KoneKrusosKronos.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Consciousness, Einstein, Inspiration, Longest Night, Memories, Personal Story, Relativity, Subjective, The Subjective, Time Perception, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. kethuprofumo says:

    How interesting it is, dear Mr. Bridigo Anaya! And what about Time that runs from death to birth? Not exactly backwards, but from so called material Future to so called material Past, to a certain point to finish some deeds like historical cycles…

    Best regards,

    • theburningheart says:

      And what about the final Apotheosis of time? Maybe the subject for another blog in the near future.
      Thank you Maria! 🙂

      • kethuprofumo says:

        )))) Why not a subject for another cultural dimension in the world? All depends on us. And e must do our best to plant seeds of good.

      • theburningheart says:

        Well Maria, I detect an admirable, cultural missionary zeal in your words, yes I believe we should contribute for a more Enlightened World, and my original idea was to propagate Knowledge, and Wisdom, for those who seek it, however I do not have a plan, or an agenda, and my writing confess it flows naturally from inspiration, without too much planning, sometimes I have an idea to write about something, work on it, and by the time I am finish, to my surprise discover that the original idea has being transformed in to quite something else!
        But not opposed to your idea. 🙂

      • kethuprofumo says:

        Writing coming from the burning heart is the rightest, purest one! ))) Besides it’s the most unpredictable of the activities. Indeed what you think before writing never corresponds to the final result. The last one is usually better! )))

      • theburningheart says:

        Thank you Maria, we appreciate compliments!
        Writing like most works of Art, are unpredictable in their results, and I should add in many other categories, things may not go as planed, like life itself. 🙂

  2. Tom Schultz says:

    As Mr. Spock might say of this post: Fascinating!

  3. Thank you! ☺ excellent timing ☺

    Kind Regards,

  4. Christy B says:

    Oh you do tell the best stories! You somehow had me feeling like I was with you on both of those walks to the yoga studio.. although I admit I wouldn’t have wanted to change a tire in the rain and amidst potentially being hit by cars! It’s interesting to think of time… and in general I think it goes too quickly!

    • theburningheart says:

      If time goes too quickly for you, it tells me you are always busy, on the other hand when we want things to go fast, and be over, time drags…
      And therefore our different perception of time. Generally as we age time seems to accelerate, some say we need not to fall on a routine, and change, sometimes a little difficult thing to do, when you are getting old, and set on your ways.

      I ask the moon for words, and
      It only whispers a question to me-
      Why rush the goodness that its to come?

      Christy, thank you for your comment beautiful, and kind poetess.. 🙂

  5. foodinbooks says:

    Fascinating. I’ve often thought about how our perception of time changes depending on what we’re doing, who we’re with, or the level of pleasure or pain associated with the task at hand. Quite timely…….pardon the pun. I appreciate your blog because you always make me think and stretch my brain a little more.

    • theburningheart says:

      Thank you for your comment, and we are glad you enjoy reading me, yes time is a perception according to our activities, or moods, more than the counting of minutes in to hours. 🙂

  6. ladyfi says:

    Lovely shots! And I love that Einstein quote.

  7. Liesbet says:

    It might be a perception, but I am pretty sure that time goes faster, the older we get! 🙂

    • theburningheart says:

      Well, it seems it does, and there is many interesting thoughts about it, if you search why this happens when you get older.
      Thank you for visiting us, and commenting! 🙂

  8. Thanks Mr. Bridigo for your interesting information and the story about your personal experience.:) The older I get the more afraid I am of loneliness and that the time I still have at disposal may not pass! Have a plesant evening and best regards Martina

  9. natuurfreak says:

    very interesting post and fantastic images.

  10. Indeed there are nights very long, in this case, the time run short while reading your interesting post.

  11. J.D. Riso says:

    I always enjoy your philosophizing, but this post about Time resonated particularly deeply. The elasticity of Time has been on my mind a lot lately. Your eternal night brought back memories of one such night I had, long ago, driving in the mountains of Southern California from San Diego back to the Coachella Valley. A strange, infinite night indeed.

    • theburningheart says:

      Yes, for some reason particular times stick with you, and memories never seem to go away, despite now being over forty two years ago since that night, remember almost everything, and others you barely remember, or not at all, like if they never happen.
      It will be interesting to read about your night, and your memories of that trip.
      Thank you for your comment Julie! 🙂

  12. Such an interesting post about time. I have always been fascinated by time—and more than anything the relativity of time. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  13. Time is supposed to speed up as you get older but my experience is that now I have retired it has slowed down – long periods of doing nothing make the days pass slowly, punctuated by trips to unfamiliar places breaking up the year which slows down the years…

    • theburningheart says:

      Well, that’s why we call time to be relative, it depends on the circumstances surrounding your life, I guess if you get very busy time would go faster, but do not know if that is what you want. 🙂

  14. BroadBlogs says:

    Such fascinating images!

  15. dunelight says:

    I was so afraid your story was going to end with the death of a friend on that rainy night. I’m glad it was just one of those odd moments where we sit back, look around and go, huh.

    In those horrible dark months so many of us drive to work in the dark and come home in the dark, the truly unfortunate spend the entire workday inside, away from windows never seeing daylight, until the weekend. Time.

    • theburningheart says:

      Nothing so dramatic as somebody dying, in fact for a time I hesitated to tell this story, and still wonder why stuck on my mind, sometimes I think because the nap, and the short sleep I have that night before getting up again, made me self conscious on a dreamlike kind of state, go figure!
      Yes, the dark days in the Northern latitudes can be depressing.

      Thank you for your nice comment! 🙂

  16. Dacia says:

    What a story. I totally know what it is like for time to relatively move so slow. Thank you for sharing. Greta perspective.

  17. Mr Modigliani says:

    You certainly have a fascinating mind. I enjoy seeing it express itself with such range

  18. Bill says:

    Fascinating. With regard to the temporal illusions, it’s interesting to ponder why evolutionary biology might have brought them about.

    Thanks for one of the most interesting places on the internet.

    • theburningheart says:

      To every question there is many answers, that leads us to many other questions, which seems to be the Human condition.
      Thank you for your comment, and your kindness. 🙂

  19. Sometimes I want time to stop entirely. In moments of bliss. And the day time does stop – that will be the day that I die.
    And then, isn’t it when I experience movement and change and growth that I experience that bliss that makes me want time to stop? Like the moment of transition from winter to summer that we call spring.
    I’ll never understand time completely – which makes it so fascinating.
    Thanks for bringing it up.

    • theburningheart says:

      Yes time it’s fascinating specially when it come to our own perception of it.

      Thank you for your comment we appreciate it! 🙂

  20. johncoyote says:

    Reblogged this on johncoyote and commented:
    A wonderful storyteller and writer. Please read and enjoy the work of the talented writer.

  21. johncoyote says:

    This piece is amazing. I liked the quotes and the story. I like the discussion also. These words would be a long conversation and a lot of coffee for us. I like when words make the mind come alive.

  22. sherazade says:

    A great article but now I have to take a little rest owing to my basically English …


    • theburningheart says:

      E voi cari Scherazade, prende un periodo di riposo con un sacco di stile, come dopo aver detto una lunga storia.
      Grazie per la bella immagine e il tuo commento, cara! 🙂

  23. E.D. says:

    I love anything to do with Time.. Time Space is a super subject. I watched Cosmos recently, was amazed at the way Dr, Tyson described time.. I must watch the series again because there’s too much to take in on one viewing. Thanks for the post. I must come back and reread it.. Eve

    • theburningheart says:

      Thank you Eve! 🙂

      • E.D. says:

        you are welcome. I wish i could give more time to reading but with this crisis, i just cannot concentrate well enough. your blog is remarkable. a real act of love. Eve

      • theburningheart says:

        I understand Eve, do not worry time its limited, and we need to put our minds at ease, if not at peace, with whatever it needs at the moment.
        Best wishes, and blessings for you. 🙂

  24. Lara/Trace says:

    Fascinating! I love your writing!

    • theburningheart says:

      Thank you, and certainly I like the awareness you are bringing on Indigenous people sorely lacking.
      Thank you for the good work! 🙂

      • Lara/Trace says:

        With blogs, the world is now much closer to being connected. Much appreciation to you. I will be reading your blog! 🙂

      • theburningheart says:

        You are a sweetheart, I will be looking forward to see you around here, and certainly I will visit your blog as well. 🙂

  25. Reblogged this on Unplugged Creations and commented:
    Too good! It reminded me of this:
    Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
    ~William Faulkner

  26. Skilbey says:

    I have to follow you. Thank you for truly stimulating posts!

  27. Very interesting write… thought provoking indeed! Thank you for stopping by, much appreciated. 🙂

  28. The whole concept of time has always fascinated me. H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” has been one of my favorite books sonce I first read it at age 13 (a long “time” ago). It’s so true that our perception of time depends on our frame of mind.

  29. theburningheart says:

    Yes, our frame of mind vary according to our moods, but no doubt influence our time perception.
    Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  30. lwbut says:

    “Time is an Illusion; Lunchtime doubly so” – Douglas Adams, Hitch-hiker’s guide to the galaxy.

    There are indeed many aspects that we can see regarding the subject: Time.

    Time as we may perceive of it’s passing (that is not uniform but changes apparent speed within and between individuals); Time as a relative measurement that changes with differently moving frames of reference, which can cause the order in which two or more events occur to seemingly be different for two or more individuals Time as an absolute arrow that begins with the Universe’s creation and ends who knows when with each of us located somewhere along it’s single line shaft? The Time that we can only ever travel in one direction and at one pace in (measured by passing units most call seconds). Unvarying (seemingly) Time as measured by vibrations of a Caesium atom, billions of which count for 1 second. Time as the way we calculate a difference in between any two given events we may observe that can give rise to our illusion of ‘movement’ or velocity or acceleration. Time as an equal and interchangeable dimension of 4 dimensional space-time with those 3 of physical space dimensions, which as Einstein showed was one possible (one that makes demonstrably accurate predictions of the future) theme of the world we all live in. Or the Time our imperfect memories applies to events such as your long dark night, which in one sense took exactly the same length of time as the night before and the one after and yet neither of which compare equally in your recall with this one!? 🙂

    Is any one of these aspects less true than any other would you say? Is one the ‘Real’ one and the rest simply an impression of the reality? Is there such a thing as Absolute time we can compare our individual one with? I suspect not all beings would agree as to which is the real case. 🙂


    • theburningheart says:

      Yes, there is so much to it, recently I saw a blog where they mention how electromagnetism can be influenced by Einstein relativity law, of all things.
      The question of how an electric field in one inertial frame of reference looks in different reference frame moving with respect to the first is crucial to understanding fields created by moving sources. In the special case, the sources that create the field are at rest with respect to one of the reference frames. Given the electric field in the frame where the sources are at rest, one can ask: what is the electric field in some other frame?
      You can read all about it if you search for: Classical electromagnetism and special relativity.
      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  31. Bumba says:

    It’s interesting that these are the “moments” we remember. As for understanding relative time in terms of objective time, the science of psychology began with these psychometrics – to measure and correlate between “objective” physical stimuli and subjective perception of such stimuli. We are very very far from understanding that. Even our own concepts of time have changed rapidly over human history. And our perceptions of time changing ….all the time (yikes)

  32. theburningheart says:

    Well, yes, remembrance, and recollection of events, and perception of time always haunt us, one thing it’s sure, they are relative, and unreliable!
    Just to give you an idea, 70% of convictions because of witnesses, overturned through DNA testing nationwide.
    Food for thought about our memories, and how time affects them!
    Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  33. Great post thank you. Shared to FB

  34. Very interesting article you’ve written!! I find time and especially our perception of time which as you pointed out our minds can alter a great deal a really fascinating subject. I’m quite comfortable these days with the belief we could be all living in something similar to the ‘Matrix’ (real, but also not so real) where time and life experiences are not as we think they are. Of course, it’s only a theory, and could turn out to be a totally insane idea! But I don’t much appreciate the other belief systems either, they seem very flawed to me.

    If we had no actual clocks, the only way we could measure time would be the sun going up and down. But our perception of how long a actually day is would still vary depending on what our minds do with it. So, does time really exist, or do we perceive what we are experiencing as something to be measured in order to make sense of our world and how we can’t really prove the reality or logic of how we came to be here?

    • theburningheart says:

      Well, after all time it’s just a sort of abstract construct based on the rotation, and movement of Earth, our planet, so how we perceive it can vary from mind, to mind, we may wonder about time, however few people wonder as you do as, to the nature of the perceiver, in other words, who we really are? Who, or what it’s, or are these bodies, or instruments who experience Being? And therefore time?
      Personalty I like your point about the Matrix, maybe not as mechanized, or sinister as the movie, more in line of the great Andalusian Muslim mystic Ibn Arabi, who said something like this: ‘It’s not us who are experiencing ourselves, but the Real, who is experiencing Itself through us.’
      Thank you Suzy for your lovely comment! 🙂

      • Ah yes, the film was sinister indeed, I certainly don’t like to view life quite in that way, but more just the theory of everything not being as we imagine we are experiencing. That’s a very interesting quote, ‘the Real’ I like the sound of that. I’ve not heard of Ibn Arabi, I shall have to look him up. Thank you! 🙂

  35. theburningheart says:

    Yes, Ibn Arabi known as the Shaykh Al -Akbar “the greatest master” in the Islamic world, through my posts I have wrote a great deal about him,
    As Ibn ‘Arabî explains in one of his many examples he provides:
    ‘Were it not for light, nothing whatsoever would be perceived [idrâk], neither the known, nor the sensed, nor the imagined. The names of light are diverse in keeping with the names of the faculties…. Smell, taste, imagination, memory, reason, reflection, conceptualization, and everything through which perception takes place are light. As for the objects of perception… they first possess manifestation to the perceiver, then they are perceived; and manifestation is light…. Hence every known thing has a relation with the Real, for the Real is Light. It follows that nothing is known but God’ (Ibn ‘Arabî, al-Futûhât, 1911 edition, 3:276–77)
    Thank You! 🙂

  36. Paroledipaola says:

    Great post.

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