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The speed of time

  1. Dec 13, 2006 #1
    This thread leans a bit towards the "Is time just an illusion?" topic, but is somehow different.

    In physical reality, time seems to derole as an objective constant. We experience time as constant intervals and we all do that the same way otherwise interaction with someone else would be hard (image you live at time rate 1x and someone else experiences time as 1,5x).
    So some physical law somehow dictates us a certain rate of time for all waking conciousness and is applicable for objective reality

    However, if this would be the general case, why is it that dreams we enjoy only last seconds to minutes while they are actually experienced as i.e. days or longer periods of time that they actually last.

    Somehow this time objectivity is broken as we do not experience the same rate of time in our dreams as in physical reality.

    So I wonder what this means?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Dreams are not real events, so time doesn't exist in them.
  4. Dec 13, 2006 #3
    How does one measure that? The time you experience in a dream, is actually what you remember experiencing when you wake, you arent able to measure your observations of time when you are dreaming.

    What you do mean by this?
  5. Dec 13, 2006 #4
    And here it is reasonable to assume that this rate is basically depending on the rate at which the natural recognition processes in the brain proceed. The physical activity in the brain does have a limited speed after all, and while something looks "very fast" to us, it is just a case of it being fast in relation to the recognition speed of the brain. As a noumenon, whatever we perceived cannot be said to have been "fast or slow".

    Being aware of the "flow of time" is not an objective phenomenon but rather you make certain assumptions about the passage of time based on interpreting some sensory data (so sometimes time seems to pass very fast and sometimes very slowly)

    Whatever you are conscious of is a case of some ideas being expressed in the brain (in some sense or another). When you are conscious of a dream, it is also case of something being expressed in the brain.

    During a dream the brain is not interpreting its environment but rather processing ideas more freely. If it goes through, for example, just few events that "happen during a course of a day", it can go through just these few events at regular processing speeds, and in the end simply believe that the whole day has occurred, while more properly only few events were ever processed.

    What is the difference between merely believing something experienced is so, and actually knowing something is so? The difference is that former is possible, and latter is not.

    So my answer to your question is that the brain merely believes a full day was experienced as it has a recollection of these memories of the events it just processed, and the memories say "event 1 happened in the morning, event 2 at noon, and event 3 in the evening". (You only remember certain events of your dream, not second-by-second description of the "whole day")

  6. Dec 13, 2006 #5
    That is very true!

    I play music when I sleep and I can attest that time experienced my during sleep occurs at the same rate as when I'm awake. When ever there is an interview on the radio or on my computer during my vivid dreams, my brain is able to pick that up in real time and merge that info with my dream. This is no philosophizing, but it is for me a hard empirical fact that dream time and wake time is the same. The only difference is that it is possible to go to a different day, year, etc. during a dream, but to think that is happing in real life is a form of delusion.
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