“Why Time Flies”

“Why Time Flies” certainly does not answer our every question. And precisely for this reason, it captures us. Because it opens up a well of fascinating queries and gives us a glimpse of what has become an ever more deepening mystery for humans: the nature of time.Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Steve Jobs


Time may appear unproblematic at first. What is there to say about it? It flies, things happen in the fullness of it, clocks measure it, and we are well aware of its passage. This review shall take you perhaps three minutes to read. Nothing particularly curious about that. But the closer we look, the less clear our temporal sense becomes: First, our brain, body, and cells all keep track of time in a variety of ways that are not all that well understood. Psychologists are puzzled by a wealth of experiments showing that we process time in more subtle and complex ways than we expected. Some neuroscientists interpret the brain as a “time machine,” whose core mechanism is to collect past memories in order to predict the future. Philosophers debate the very existence of time. And perhaps most disconcertingly of all, physics teaches us that physical time happens to be astonishingly different from how we intuit it: runs at different speeds, at different altitudes; is distorted by matter; is not organized in a straightforward past, present and future. Advanced tentative theories of the universe even discard temporality altogether from the basic ingredients of the world. From whatever side we address it, the nature of time is a source of perplexity and wonder.

Even more intriguing is that the abstract quality of time appears to be subterraneously connected to many if not all, of the great unsolved mysteries around us: the nature of the mind, the origin of the universe, the fate of black holes, the irreversibility of macroscopic phenomena and the functioning of life.

. Time is not only something we live immersed in, like fish in water but also an element of our lives with which we constantly struggle, which drives us crazy, opens up possibilities, lulls us and loses us.

And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time. Jesus Christ


In “Why Time Flies, It a captivating account of my own personal struggle with time — the modification of the sense and the organization of time that  is forced to undergo when my brothers two delightful twin children are born and begin to grow up — with an extensive learned overview of the wealth of the last century and a half of laboratory experiments exploring the complex relation of living beings with time. It is not meant to be comprehensive in this regard, but he does cover a wide spectrum, ranging from the delay between stimuli and perception to the alterations in the perception of duration, from the surprisingly multiple manners in which our body tracks time, to the history of how we ended up agreeing upon a common hour around the planet.

 You realize that there are far more open puzzles about time than what you thought before opening the book. The three minutes during which you have been reading this short review are now ending: How does your brain connect you that started three minutes ago with the present you? How does it fold together the events of these three minutes into the unitary experience of the passage of three minutes? At the end of “Why Time Flies,” you will be puzzled by what “the present” really means; you will be asking yourself how we know, without looking at a clock, what time it is, how we know that time flies, and what it even means that time flies. You will be closer to what is today’s state of scientific knowledge about the nature of time: an enchanting enigma.