This is in response to the post on Kei‘s blog, about the definition of “now”. It got a bit too long to be a comment, so I’m posting it here.

I was reading something about this recently, but unfortunately I can’t remember exactly where. So I’ll take a stab at remembering, and hope it isn’t too inaccurate.

I think that they were meaning that’s how long the period of measurements is before the brain classifies an event as “now”.

It would be nice to say that the “now” you’re experiencing is actually the last 8 seconds of what your senses have measured, but that’s not quite right. It’s a combination of what you have measured in the last couple of seconds, and also what comes in the few seconds after now – this is sort of integrated back into your memory at a later point. Hence where deja-vu comes from.

So it’s not the absolute, physical definition of “now” – it’s more the psychology of “now”, how your brain deals with an event happening “now”.

One thought on ““Now””

  1. Thanks Mike. I read about this on a website that had a link back to a paper from the Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies but I can’t remember which website it was, nor can I remember the name of the paper so I can’t find it. I’m sure one of these days amidst random surfing I will relocate that paper. I’ll forward you the link if you’re interested.

    I think this whole classification of now to be a set period of 8 seconds can have interesting semantic consequences. So when now someone says – “Live in the now!” … do we take it as them saying, don’t worry about what’s coming, and what has happened in the recent (or not recent for that matter) past, and just continue living like a goldfish apparently oblivious to events around you.

    And what about events that take more than 8 seconds. Like a plane landing. It takes about 150 seconds for a plane to finish its landing cycle. So can you say that – “the plane is landing now” … I’m sorry I’m just being to pedantic here. It’s really not that important. I’m going to stop now.

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