Thursday, December 31, 2009

How do you visualize time?

I was listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe recently and they started discussing how each of them visualize the days of the week, the months of the year, the decades, etc. Some of them had distinct mental visualizations, some had no visualization, but I've had this picture in my head of how time progresses since I was a kid. I don't know when I came up with it, but this is how I've always pictured time.

As you can see, each decade marches in a straight line and then (sometimes) moves off in a different direction with the next decade. I have no idea what decades prior to 1940 look like, because I've never had to really visualize it. Any time I think about dates prior to 1940 it's fuzzy and vague. But I do know that time goes forward (generally) up and to the left. Going back in time, you're travelling down and to the right. If I were to plot a timeline of the last 1000 years, 2010 would be in the top-left corner of the paper and 1010 would be in the lower right. In between would be a zig-zaggy line.

I actually don't quite visualize it just like this... it's more a 3-dimensional representation in my head, and I'm standing in whatever year it is at the time. I can look around and see the other years in front of or behind me. Right now I'm standing in 2009, so if I look ahead of me I can see the next decade, 2010-2019. Looking to my left shows 2008, and 2007 behind it, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment