5The Faster You Go, the Slower Time Moves
Another thing GPS satellites have to take into account is speed: The faster you travel, the slower time moves. Now you almost certainly knew that already, thanks to Einstein -- if you're going the speed of light, time pretty much stops. But it turns out that you don't need an ultra fast spaceship to slow down time -- your shitty car will do.
Seriously, man, just let it go. It's time to move on.
Using the extremely precise atomic clocks we just mentioned, scientists have proven that the same thing happens to you every day, on a much smaller scale. Making one of the clocks move at only 36 kilometers per hour (around 20 mph) caused it to slow down its tick by almost 6 x 10-16. In numbers we can understand, that translates to "Not a whole lot, but still, holy shit, you guys."
So, let's say you're driving to work at around 40 mph -- that right there is apparently enough to cause time to move 0.0000000000000002 percent slower than it would if you were standing still.
And, no, that doesn't explain the actions of the asshole in front of you.
In another experiment, one atomic clock was taken on a plane trip around the world while the other one stayed home (admit it -- if you had an atomic clock, you'd constantly be thinking up shit like this). Even though the clocks were perfectly synchronized at first, the traveling clock came back from its 50-hour, 800-kilometer trip missing 230 or so nanoseconds.
And it transformed into a beautiful, majestic moose.
So the clock gained time from being farther from the Earth than the other one, but it lost even more just by going faster. What's even weirder is that from the perspective of the clock on the plane, the clock back home is the one that's running faster than normal. You don't actually feel time slowing down or speeding up: Only someone outside your conditions can tell the difference. And that leads us a little further down this rabbit hole ...
4Time Doesn't Run at the Same Speed for Everyone
A trippy consequence of the stuff we just explained is that, apparently, different people can witness the same events happening at different speeds. Einstein claimed that events that appear simultaneous to a person in motion may not look simultaneous to someone who is standing still. So reality may actually be a mess of people walking around in slightly different timelines that sometimes synch up or intersect, depending on their conditions. This would help explain why everyone from Cream looks like a mummy now except for Eric Clapton.
And why he's dressing as if he thinks it's still 1978.
Neuroscientist Warren Meck conducted studies to prove that brain time is relative. In one experiment, he trained lab rats to push a small lever after a certain period of time -- and found out that the exact same interval could be timed differently depending on the rats' conditions. This means that 10 seconds can sometimes seem like 30 seconds, and 30 seconds can sometimes seem like 90 seconds, and so on. But you didn't need lab rats to know that: Surely you've been cornered at parties by someone who wants to tell you what really happened on 9/11.
Well, according to Meck, this happens because there isn't a single "clock" that tells the time in our brains: There are multiple brain clocks, all running at different speeds. So basically, the guy in the speeding train, the guy way up in the GPS satellite and the guy at the party working out an exit strategy all coexist inside our heads and our brain decides which one to believe at any given time.
"It's been six minutes. Man, science is a dick."
There are lots of other things that can alter our perception of time, like drugs, mental disorders, old age or even distance. With all these variables, time is constantly in flux for everyone. So the next time you're late for something, just lay that nugget of truth on anyone waiting for you. They may think you're an asshole, but at least it won't be for your tardiness.