Time Warped, By Claudia Hammond
The link between time and emotion
Sunday 03 June 2012
It's the most often used noun in the English language, the subject of continual curiosity at the speed of its passing, and of bafflement at its ability to contract and expand.
So it's surprising that more people haven't dedicated their time to thinking about time.
Claudia Hammond, the Radio 4 broadcaster, psychologist and author of Emotional Rollercoaster, which explores the science of feelings, is more sensitive to the subject than most: she is a synaesthete who sees colours and shapes when she thinks of the passage of time.
And she explores the subject thoroughly. Some of Time Warped is on tried-and-tested ground: no one questions that time travels differently if you are scared rather than relaxed; that an hour in amusing company speeds by faster than half the time with someone who is dull, but Hammond's examples of time-warping add insight to these observations. She looks at the skydiver Chuck Berry, whose parachute failed, and the BBC journalist Alan Johnston's experience of being taken hostage, to show the expansion of time in a near-death situation; notes the experiences of the French speleologist Michel Siffre, who spent two months in an underground cave to find out how much our sense of time is thrown without external clues; and adds in a few pleasingly eccentric stories, such as the man who takes a photo every 20 seconds so that his life can be recalled – in its entirety.
She also explores links between time and space and emotion: how fear, or hearing someone sobbing, makes time slow; and questions whether both depression and ADHD are time-perception disorders.
Despite Hammond's slightly irritating use of phrases such as "and we'll learn how it worked out", as if she shares in her readers' discoveries, her examination of the elasticity of time is accessible. And her pop-psychology test to find out whether you are in the half of the population who believe time is moving towards you, rather than seeing yourself moving through time, is entertaining.
She highlights the human failing of always believing we will have more free time in the future, and gives practical solutions for not overestimating how much we can fit into our schedules. But this is no cure for the sensation of time accelerating as years pass. Hammond's conclusion, that time rushing by is a sign of leading a busy, happy life, may be true, but is as unsatisfying as the feeling of sand slipping through an hourglass.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 2 Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Monty Python-inspired Australian Sam Simmons wins comedy award with 'very silly' show
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Online toy marathon to launch new film
Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet: Technician quits after social media row with actor's fans
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics