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The perception of time has always been a central part of human existence, but its nature and meaning continue to fascinate and challenge us. From ancient civilizations that measured the passage of time using the sun’s position to modern theories in physics exploring the relativity of time, we have constantly strived to understand this abstract dimension. Although time can be perceived differently and is a hotly debated topic among theorists, one thing is at least certain: we humans are dependent on time. Below you will find ten facts that you may not have known about the subject before!

Time goes faster the higher you go…

Due to the theory of relativity, time slows down the closer you get to the Earth’s core. This means that your head is, in a way, younger than your feet, and if you want to live longer, you should live on Mount Everest. A year is about 15 microseconds shorter there than at the surface. [source]

A second is not one-sixtieth of a minute…

Since 1967, the International System of Units has defined a second as “the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.” It can also be measured as a fraction of a year, 1/31,556,925.9747 of a year, to be exact. However, a second has been measured as 1/60 of a minute since Babylonian times in 300 BC. [source]

Dinosaurs had more days in their years than we humans…

Due to the resistance created by the moon’s gravity, days on Earth have become shorter over a billion years. While the current year is 364 days, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds long, at the time when dinosaurs went extinct, the years were about 370 days long. And during the Cambrian explosion, the time about 542 million years ago when most of the current animal phyla evolved, the years were about 420 days long. [source]

Time really does go faster as you get older…

If you hear older people say that time flies by, they are somewhat right. Due to a psychological phenomenon called the “oddball effect,” time seems to pass more quickly as you age, as experiences become more familiar and stand out less from your past. [source]

The oldest objects on Earth are fake diamonds…

Australia’s remote Jack Hills is the source of the oldest known objects on Earth – flakes of zircon crystal estimated to be about 4.4 billion years old. Traces of biological material were found on some of these zircons, dated to 4.1 billion years ago, which means life originated on the planet shortly after Earth formed. While not to be confused with cubic zirconia, an entirely different material, colorless zircons have also been used as diamond substitutes due to their hardness and clarity. [source]

The world’s most accurate clock would theoretically work even after the Earth’s destruction…

The strontium clock, developed in 2015, is the most accurate in the world, measuring the vibrations of ultracooled strontium atoms with ultra-powerful lasers. The clock is so accurate that if lifted two centimeters off the ground, it would be noticeable. And if left undisturbed forever, it wouldn’t be off by even a second for the next 15 billion years. Unfortunately, our planet won’t exist in 15 billion years, as the sun will have turned into a red giant long before. [source]

We have not only leap years – we also have leap seconds…

To help synchronize atomic clocks with the Earth’s actual rotation, which is gradually slowing down, leap seconds are occasionally added to the 24-hour day. A total of 26 leap seconds have been added to the clock since the first one in 1972. However, this doesn’t mean that all our days are now half a minute longer – only the specific days containing a leap second were one second longer. The most recent one was in June 2015. [source]

Time travel is reasonable but not possible – or is it the other way around…?

Scientists continue to theorize about the possibility and reasonableness of time travel or traveling faster than the speed of light. A few years ago, researchers at CERN believed they had measured subatomic particles traveling faster than the speed of light, but it turned out to be an instrument error. Wormholes may provide a means of traveling vast distances faster than light, but there is still no conclusive evidence that they actually exist. Astronomer Frank Tipler came up with an idea to essentially build an enormous cylinder, into which you would put a piece of matter ten times the mass of the sun. If you can get it to spin a few billion times a minute, everything that moves in a precise spiral around the cylinder would end up in a loop that takes it back to the point where it began to spin. Unfortunately, the cylinder would need to be infinitely long. Even if you could go back in time, it’s likely that the universe would balance out any actions you take, meaning if you killed Adolf Hitler as a child, there would just be another Adolf Hitler as a child. Messy, right? And keep in mind that everything is just theories – at least for now! [source]

It took 1,500 years and a pope to get the calendar on the right track…

Early Christians adopted the Julian calendar and assumed all years were 365.25 days long. However, this is about 10-11 minutes too long. The extra minutes began to accumulate, and by the 1500s, the calendar was off by over a week. The equinox was tied to Easter, and these two events had drifted further apart over the centuries. In 1563, the Council of Trent under Pope Gregory XIII prepared a plan to add days to the calendar to correct synchronization problems, and in 1582, ten days were added. However, it took centuries for the Gregorian calendar to become widely adopted. [source]

China is geographically almost as large as the USA – but has only a single time zone…

While historically China had multiple time zones, Chairman Mao decreed in 1949 that the entire country would follow Beijing Time for national unity. This means that in the Xinjiang region in the far west, the sun can set at midnight or rise at 10:00 AM. Complicating matters further, the region’s largest ethnic minority observes their own time – which is two hours behind. The majority of China’s population is located on the eastern side of the country, and they see a single time zone as a convenience. [source]

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