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Do People Live in the Present?

People actually live about 80 milliseconds in the past. That's how long it takes the brain to assemble information that makes up consciousness. This is just an average time, though; some people have a shorter information assembly time than others. An easy way to experience this phenomenon is to touch two places on your body — for example, the top of your head and your knee — at the same time. Although the touches feel like they happen simultaneously, it actually takes longer for the signal from the knee to reach your brain than it takes the signal from your head. The brain compensates for the time gap in that 80-millisecond information assembly time.

More facts about time perception:

  • The way a person perceives time can be connected to his or her personality. People who tend to live in the present and don't see the need for making detailed plans for the future are more likely to take risks or act impulsively, and people who think about the future a lot tend to be more focused and goal-oriented.

  • To the brain, remembering past events is very similar to imagining future events, which is why false memories can feel just as real as true ones.

  • Quantum physics research indicates that time might be a fundamental phenomenon of the universe, although it's not entirely clear whether time is a fundamental force like electromagnetism or an emergent force like temperature.

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Discuss this Article

helene55
Post 3

One of my friends pointed out to me once that "now" doesn't exist. As soon as you say the word "now", it is no longer the now that it was when you said now.

As little sense as that makes, it's about as close as I personally come to understanding anything to do with physics or the way time works in scientific terms.

anon226455
Post 2

Time does not exist. It is a human invention to identify, mark or tag moments of the eternal movement. All is about movement.

God did not create time but "lights to separate day from night", and "let them serve as signs to mark sacred moments, and days and years". Day and night exist because of planetary and galaxy movements as months and years.

All the organic beings and even inorganic ones suffer deterioration and what we call "aging", but it is only the wearing and deterioration of moving things, hitting or mixing one with another or maybe stopping them from moving. The sad thing is that it was not planned to be that way from the beginning.

6pack
Post 1

I just had surgery and don't remember anything since *before* they put me under. I thought I would remember them putting the gas mask on me, but I don't. I wonder if this is because we live just a little in the past. So I remember up until 80 milliseconds *before* they put the gas to my face?

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