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both teacher and student watch the clock

How to Make Waiting Easier

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I don’t think anyone can be interested in psychology, and not also be interested in philosophy, and the bigger picture: for instance, is anyone studying us, the way we study each other? 🙂

I recently started reading a book that’s been on my shelf for a long time: Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension, by Michio Kaku. It’s fascinating, but I’m not sure how fast and far I’ll get: almost every page reminds me that I should have studied more science in school, and particularly physics.

More important than being interesting, it’s mind-opening. It’s easy to feel complacent, maybe even smug, in our modern technology times, but what we think we know is so limited, that it’s freeing to read about the world opening up in other ways – parallel worlds, or even dimensions.

One quick illustration: to a being in the 4th dimension, we, living in the third dimension, would appear to be 2 dimensional to them, like a piece of paper is to us. They would be able to see inside us, and all around, and remove something (hopefully not an organ – let’s say, your keys) without us being able to see a thing. To us, the object would simply disappear from sight. Then they could put it anywhere else in our world, say, on the table, which we had already checked several times, and all we would see is the object suddenly reappear. Perhaps this has happened to you?

What time is it, really?

Of course, much of this is theoretical physics. But still, we need to examine time in the real world, too. Without the pressure of time, our problems in life: maybe relationships, job, or even money, would seem much less urgent. I postulate that time is really our biggest headache. It’s constantly chasing us to hurry up, or lose out.

Students of physics, outer space, or science fiction, are aware that time does slow down and change when moving very fast (although not necessarily at the speed of light).

Time dilation is the idea that as you move through space, time itself is measured differently for the moving object than the unmoving object.

Strange, but true. GPS has to account for time dilation.

While thinking about the cartoon above, I looked up what makes time seem to go slower. Wiki says that there is no reference to slow motion perception before the industrial revolution. Is it a learned response, then? It’s only after cars got fast, that people experienced accidents in a slow motion way.

Psyblog goes even further in explanations of how we perceive time. Studies show that sometimes when you’re enjoying yourself, time seems slower, not faster. Of course, this means the old expression that time goes fast when you’re having fun, is a big fat lie.

And here’s the fun part about clock watching: every time your eyes jump to the second hand of the clock, time goes backwards! See, you should have paid more attention in school.

The takeaway? I need to do more science cartoons. FAST.

( I published some of these thoughts earlier in ClinicMind, but wanted to expand on them for my Psych Central readers!)

Next in line: what you shouldn’t wear to a job interview: the importance of fashion.

How to Make Waiting Easier

Donna Barstow

Cartoonist for LA Times, Parade, WSJ, Glamour, PsychCentral, Barron's, Weight Watchers, and textbooks & Chicken Soup books. Author and editor of 2 cartoon books and a Barnes & Noble calendar.

I both write and draw all my cartoons. You are warmly invited to share the link to this cartoon. The full-size cartoons are all copyrighted, so please email me at pen.drawing AT g mail (squish it) for rates for use in textbooks, prints, presentations, publications, or websites. Email me AT pen.drawing @ gmail. com. (Squish the address.)

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APA Reference
, . (2016). How to Make Waiting Easier. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 May 2016
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