It’s one of those slightly unfair-seeming facts of life, that as you get older, time seems to get faster and faster – especially when compared to the endless summers of childhood.
But physics might offer an explanation, according to Professor Adrian Bejan of Duke University.
Bejan says, ‘People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth.
‘It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful, it’s just that they were being processed in rapid fire.’
Bejan believes it’s due to how many new images people are processing – which tails off with age due to physical changes in the human body.
As tangled webs of nerves and neurons mature, they grow in size and complexity, leading to longer paths for signals to traverse.
As those paths then begin to age, they also degrade, giving more resistance to the flow of electrical signals.
These phenomena cause the rate at which new mental images are acquired and processed to decrease with age.
Because infants process images faster than adults, their eyes move more often, acquiring and integrating more information.
The end result is that, because older people are viewing fewer new images in the same amount of actual time, it seems to them as though time is passing more quickly.
Bejan says, ‘The human mind senses time changing when the perceived images change. The present is different from the past because the mental viewing has changed, not because somebody’s clock rings.
‘Days seemed to last longer in your youth because the young mind receives more images during one day than the same mind in old age.’