Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor (kistaro) wrote,
Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

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Time compression

As y'all may or may not have noticed from my bragging, I participated in a TopCoder match yesterday. Something I didn't get a chance to write up then was an interesting effect that, for the first time, I got to observe more directly- subjective time compression.

Something that tends to happen to me is that when I get thinking really hard about something, and there's any sense of immediacy to it, time goes subjectively screwy. I scratch things down, type things up, and just think- attracting seemingly slow stares and strangely distorted-seeming comments about my velocity. And I look up and discover two things: that this subjective twenty minutes was about ten, or even five, and my body temperature is up. (Not "feverish" so much as similar to "heavy manual labor in a 110 degree lemonade stand in 87% humidity" hot. The latter is something I'm familliar with, actually- ask me sometime.) I've suspected for a while that when I get thinking quickly, my conciousness gets caught in it and my subjective time-frame warps, resulting in my experiencing time more slowly than normal, by a significant amount. So from my reference frame, everything else slowed down; from everybody else's reference frame, I'm typing like a maniac, while thinking and speaking far more quickly than I have any right to. In short, I've sped up.

I was wondering if this was just because I have a bad sense of time, or if I actually was speeding up. I finally caught it yesterday during TopCoder.

This was when working on the 500, the medium-difficulty problem. (It inevitably fell, of course, but my 150 challenge points and medium-speed easy solution left me with a respectable score in the end anyway.) I had already slipped into "Extreme Solution Mode:" I have an extremely intense focus on the problem, to the extent that I experience nothing else. Subjectively, there is nothing but myself, the problem, and the tool; my universe consisted of nothing but my computer, myself (and I couldn't even actually percieve my physical form- yes, this is as weird an experience as it sounds, except it's normal to me), my notepad, and my pencil. Nothing else existed- and nothing else mattered.

So far, there is nothing out of the ordinary.

I felt myself getting uncomfortably hot; as I'm alone in the room, I thought nothing of stripping off my T-shirt. It didn't pull me much out of my self-induced altered state of conciousness, but it did give me a bit of a break. So I was glancing at the Timer, counting down the 75-minute coding period.

It was too slow, just too slow. I know damn well a second isn't nearly that long. It was going at what, one third the speed it should be going? Did my computer clock get that screwed up? That would be bad, because then I couldn't know how much time I had. I checked my watch. But it was going the same speed.

I pulled myself out even more and took a quick glance out the window. The world was in slow-motion.

Well, that answered my question on whether or not I actually was changing my own personal time-frame.

It also makes me wonder. I frequently get accused of speaking too quickly, moving too quickly, and having no patience; I also frequently get informed that I think very quickly and come to solutions far more quickly than most people are able to. Is my normal time-frame actually significantly different from other peoples'?

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