There are a few things in this world that we can always rely on as constants: The sun will always rise each morning, the seasons will always change and time will inevitably march forward at its predictable clip. Except the sun doesn't actually rise, seasons are disappearing and time ... well, see, time is tricky, too.
For example ...
7We May Not Live in the Present
What if we told you that what you think of as "the present" is actually slightly in the past? Basically, your life isn't a live feed: It's a delayed broadcast that your brain is constantly editing and censoring for your convenience.
The delay isn't much -- what's 80 milliseconds between you and your brain? Nothing, right? Well, a group of neuroscientists disagree. They've come up with some freaky time-altering experiments to prove that this difference can change your perspective of cause and effect. For example, in one experiment the volunteers were told to press a button that would cause a light to flash, with a short delay. After 10 or so tries, the volunteers were beginning to see the flash immediately after they pressed the button -- their brains had gotten used to the delay and decided to edit it out. Yes, that's a thing your brain can do.
"Being a brain is kind of boring, but we've got lots of time for pranks."
But that's not the freaky part. When the scientists removed the delay, the volunteers reported seeing the flash before they pressed the button. Their brains, in trying to reconstruct the events, messed up and switched the order. They were seeing the consequence first and the action second.
"You really don't want to see the copies."
Not convinced? Try this: Touch your nose and your toe at the same time. Logic says that you should feel your nose first, because it's right there in your face (hopefully) and therefore the sensory signal doesn't have to travel too long before reaching the brain, whereas your toe is at the extreme opposite end. The physical distance a message has to travel on neurological pathways is much longer from toes than from nose, and yet you feel both things at the same time. According to neuroscientist David Eagleman, that's because your brain always tries to synchronize the sensory information that it gets from your body in a way that will make sense to you, but it can only do that by pushing your consciousness slightly into the past, like a radio station that's always on a five-second delay in case somebody curses on air.
The bizarre real-world implication is that the taller you are, the further back you live in the past, since it takes longer for the information to travel through your body -- and if you're a little person, you live closer to the present.
The shortened reflex time gives them an enormous advantage at bull fighting.
But we're only talking about our perception of time here. It's not like time itself can actually slow down or speed up in reality ... right?
6The Higher You Live, the Faster You Age
If you want to experience a real time warp, simply walk up some stairs. It turns out that time isn't the same all over -- it actually runs faster in higher places. In a recent experiment, scientists placed two atomic clocks on two tables, then raised one of the tables by 33 centimeters ... and found out that the higher clock was running faster than the lower one at a rate of a 90-billionth of a second in 79 years.
"Timmy, you get down from there before you get cataracts!"
These are the most precise clocks ever made, and the only difference between them was their distance from the Earth. That means people who live in higher places age slightly faster than people at the ground level. So for anyone keeping score, that's giant people 0, dwarfs 2.
This is called time dilation, and it happens because (as Einstein's theory of relativity predicted) gravity warps time as well as space. The closer you are to the ground, the more you are affected by the Earth's gravity and the slower time moves. On the other hand, as you get higher, gravity's pull weakens and time speeds up.
"Finally! First thing I'm doing is moving away from Colorado."
Keep in mind that this is an insignificant amount of time we're talking about here. It has absolutely no bearing on your life -- unless you rely on GPS equipment, that is. Because a clock inside a GPS satellite runs at 38 microseconds per day faster than the same clock would run on Earth, a computer has to constantly adjust everything to make up for that difference. Otherwise the consequences would be disastrous: In only one day, the entire system would be off by 10 kilometers, and it would just get worse from then on.
"You have arrived in Calgary. Probably."
Oh, and by the way, gravity isn't the only thing that can mess up time ...