proof: time speeds up as you get older

Originally published in 2009 – if you want a more scientific proof go here

Do you remember endless summer recess/holiday when you were a kid, long days packed with so many new experiences and waiting forever for your birthday or Christmas to come around again.

And how many things can you remember from the first few years after you left school? Compare that with the next three years and the next –  there are progressively fewer memorable events until the years fly by in the blink of an eye.

Why? We can only percieve the passing of time through our own experience of  it. We perceive chunks of time (and therefore the speed it is travelling) as a proportion of the total amount of time we have experienced in our lives so far.

When you are nearly three years old,  one month’s wait for your third birthday is 1/36th of you life – a quite extensive period of your life so far, which seems to last forever (at least my daughter thought so in April).

When you are 35 years old however, you start to dread how quickly your next birthday will come around as you head for 40 and middle age. But proportionately you have the same wait to your next birthday, 1/36th of your experience of time, as my daughter did. So, this gives us…

A month at 3 = a year at 36

Those endless days when you were five…  packed in nearly as much as a week’s vacation at 34.  That endless summer recess when you were nine… lasted as long as a year will when you are 78.

So no wonder we feel time speeds up. Comedian Steven Wright put it another way:

“When I turned two I was really anxious, because I’d doubled my age in a year. I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I’m six I’ll be ninety.”