Scott Hardie | July 3, 2019
I can't find it now -- maybe it was on Facebook? -- but I remember talking not long ago* with Denise Sawicki about time, and how it feels like the years are flying by faster and faster as I get older. A year feels like a week sometimes. I remember saying that if I was some fantasy creature that lived for centuries, like a vampire or an elf, time would probably seem to pass even faster. A decade would seem like a week. If I lived long enough, a century might eventually feel like a week. That's crazy to contemplate.

Today I happened upon this interesting math video which breaks down why we feel that way, not just about time but about other quantities. I find it most intriguing that there's actually a specific logarithm for this, and clever people (like retailers trying to raise prices without people noticing) can take advantage of people's tendency not to notice small differences in large numbers.

I've noticed this phenomenon with very large numbers. People get so angry when they hear about the government wasting, say $1 million on some unpopular program, but tell people that the government spends several trillion dollars annually and they shrug. The same thing happens with astronomical values; once we start talking about stars being a certain size or being a certain distance away, we just can't fathom the differences.

I don't necessarily have a question for discussion here. I just thought this was neat. What do you think?

*Maybe it was long ago! Thanks to this video, I have no idea what time feels like any more. :-)


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