Time is relative By Kendra Pierre-Louis
The shortest unit of time is that period between hitting the snooze button and hearing your alarm go off again. Wait, is that the shortest unit of time or the smallestunit of time?
Shortest versus smallest isn’t actually a question of grammatical punctiliousness. Different languages frame time differently. Swedish and English speakers, for example, tend to think of time in terms of distance—what a long day, we say. Time becomes an expanse one has to traverse. Spanish and Greek speakers, on the other hand, tend to think of time in terms of volume—what a full day, they exclaim. Time becomes a container to be filled. These linguistic differences, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, actually affect our perception of time’s passage.
Since the 1980s, when researchers really began to notice that much of language is metaphorical—we say we’re feeling down when we’re sad, that we’re feeling up when we’re happy—research has examined whether how we talk about abstract things affects how we think of them.
“People tend to speak about time in terms of spatial terms," said lead study author Emanuel Bylund, a professor of linguistics at Stellenbosch University. "But do we also think about it in spatial terms?”
Bylund and his colleagues exposed groups of Spanish and Swedish speakers to a series of psychosocial tasks. In the first, a group of 40 Spanish speakers and a group of 40 Swedish speakers were presented with a computer animation showing one of two conditions.
In one, participants looked at growing lines. “You have one line growing four inches, and it takes three seconds to grow. And then you would have another line that grows, say, six inches, and that one also takes three seconds to grow,” explained Bylund.
Participants were instructed in their respective native languages to estimate roughly how much time it took for the lines to grow. Because the visual overlapped with the way Swedish speakers speak about time, the researchers expected that they’d find it tougher to estimate how much time had passed. And they did. While Spanish speakers knew that three seconds had passed regardless of how quickly the line grew, Swedish speakers tended to think that more time had passed when the line was longer at the end of it. There are limits to this: it's not as if a Swede would think ages had passed if a line grew super long in just three seconds. But in the mid-time conditions Bylun outlined, they struggled.
“The Swedish speakers tend to think that the line that grows longer in distance, takes longer,” said Bylund. “Spanish speakers aren’t tricked by that. They seem to think that it doesn’t matter how much the line grows in distance; it still takes the same time for it to grow.”
On the other hand, Spanish speakers tend to get tricked by a second condition: rather than using a growing line, the second task showed a container that appeared to be filled from the bottom. This is designed to mimic the volumetric ways that Spanish speakers talk about time. While Swedish speakers had no problem estimating the passage of time whether the container was full or half full, Spanish speakers tended to think that more time had passed when the container was fuller. In other words, the language they spoke affected how they estimated the relative passage of time.
How do we know that language was the primer, and not some other cultural factor?
For starters, Bylund and Athanasopoulos also ran the experiment using 74 adult, bilingual Spanish-Swedish speakers—and the outcomes held. Those given verbal instructions in Spanish had no problem correctly identifying the time it took for a line to grow, but struggled under the volumetric conditions. Similarly, when instructed in Swedish, the participants struggled with the line exercise, but not with the volumetric one. And it’s important to note that overall, the two groups were roughly equal in the accuracy of their time estimates. Groups suffered in accuracy when the conditions didn't suit their language, but were equally matched when playing to their linguistic strengths.
The researchers also ran the experiment with no verbal prompt at all: participants simply watched the various animations, and were only asked to estimate length of time after the fact. Without language as a factor, Spanish and Swedish speakers were roughly equal, and mostly accurate in their perceptions of how long it took for the virtual containers to fill. But the two groups were also matched in their inaccuracy of time perception in the line test—even Spanish speakers were worse at the line exercise when they didn't receive any prompts.
“We're guessing that it's an experiential bias related to the fact that when we move through space, the longer the distance we move, the longer it takes,” said Bylund. “Even babies who don't yet master language seem to have an association between physical length and temporal length. It might be something innate and it might be something that we acquire as experience as we move through space.”
In other words, we may be inherently predisposed to think that longer lengths mean longer periods of time. And Spanish speakers may only overcome that misconception when their language prompts them to think of time in a different fashion. Those results suggest that under the right conditions, language can carry more weight than our physical experiences.
“You know, the question of whether the language we speak influences the way we think, people have tended to approach that question in a very binary way, and our results really show that you cannot say language either influences thought or it doesn't. Under certain circumstances it does,” said Bylund.
There’s an expression, allegedly Polish in origin, that says if you learn a new language you gain a new soul. Bylund, who speaks three languages, does not go so far. He does note, however, “If you speak two languages, then you can sort of inhabit two world views at the same time, and you can flexibly switch between them. As a bilingual speaker, you can have two different time perceptions. That's fascinating.”
Gerry Duggan digs in on how his cosmic dream team gets along!
We’ve all seen the heroism of the Avengers and the X-Men, but another team always seems to have all the fun: the Guardians of the Galaxy. These seemingly mismatched personalities find themselves facing some pretty insane situations, and they’ve build deep bonds along the way. But as we’ll see in issue #4 of ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the group’s interpersonal relationships can get a little dicey at times.
We asked writer Gerry Duggan for his insights on the ways in which each character’s personality and background impact the group dynamics.
KokoTeddy.com: Rocket, of course, has a bit of an impulsive streak and, even though he has a good heart, he has a pretty salty attitude. Does this impact his relationship with the others?
Gerry Duggan: Yeah, I think so. Opportunistic beings are always good to have around; they’ll maybe be able to sniff out an exit strategy that you might not have thought of. In the second arc, Rocket will get a very surprising role on the team, and it’s one that I don’t think he would pick for himself, but it’s going to be one that he will come to really enjoy and relish.
KokoTeddy.com: We’re going to see more of a focus on Gamora shortly, and she’ll get the Guardians into some trouble. She still has a bit of a loner’s attitude, even though she cares about the team. Does this affect the group dynamics?
Gerry Duggan: She definitely is not afraid to pull the group in the direction that she needs. And that’s actually what we’ll come to see as one of the driving forces of the first arc; her personal quest will either become a Guardian’s quest, or it will mean that she’ll have to leave the team.
The Guardians are, though, pretty rugged individualists. They do understand that they all have very different personal goals, even though they may be working side by side. So far they’ve been able to make that work. But I foresee a future where that may not always be possible with this group.
KokoTeddy.com: Groot appears in his baby form in the book. How does this change the way they approach their gigs?
Gerry Duggan: What [“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” director] James Gunn and his collaborators have done is great. In our book, even though it looks very much like he might be a baby, I view the Groot that artist Aaron Kuder is drawing more as being diminished, and not necessarily as being a baby. And at the end of the first issue, we begin to see why Groot is diminished.
KokoTeddy.com: Peter Quill, Star-Lord, has a tendency toward sarcasm, which comes off as very funny at the right moment but I think it could also be perceived as inappropriate at times. What do you think the others think of that? Does it ever get in the way?
Gerry Duggan: There’s an issue coming up, issue #4, that really sees Quill grab the bull by the horns and attempt to [solve] a problem, and that’s maybe the Peter Quill that used to grab for the Cosmic Cube and that sort of thing. So he definitely has a mouth on him, and that can get him into trouble, but I think it comes from a place of confidence in his abilities. And it has served him well so far.
KokoTeddy.com: In this book, we find Drax trying to remain a pacifist—what impact does that have on the group?
Gerry Duggan: It’s much to Quill’s chagrin. And it’s made a joke of by everyone but Drax. And very transparently, for me as a writer, it’s an opportunity for a couple of gags for sure. But it also is very much coming from a crisis in Drax, and a sense of insecurity that has taken hold of him since we last saw him at the end of Brian Michael Bendis’s volume. So something happens there that makes him question the use of violence. And I should say, he’s trying to swear it off—how successful he’ll be by the end of the first arc is very much up for debate. But we’ll reveal why, and eventually he will have a bit of a reckoning. But for now I’m having fun watching Drax try and balance on this beam.
KokoTeddy.com: Would you like to mention anything else?
Gerry Duggan: We have our first guest issue coming up with artist Frazer Irving in a Gamora-centric chapter that will explain a little bit more about what Gamora’s going through. And it will really be the catalyst for a lot of story that is to come. It will really change some people’s ideas about where this story is going to go, I think.
See the cosmic heroes on display on ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, coming May 24 by Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, then Gamora goes solo with artist Frazer Irving on June 7, and Kuder returns for issue #4 on June 21!
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After 15 years of running Secret Garden Party, organisers have announced that 2017 will be the last festival.
Crystal Fighters and Metronomy will be the final headliners for the festival, which has previously seen the likes of Clean Bandit and Bastille perform.
The "party" as it likes to be known, will start on 20 July near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.
Founder Freddie Fellowes says since it started in 2003 it has "defined and redefined outdoor events in the UK".
It all started off as 500 friends gathering at the bottom of a garden, according to their website.
"Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had yet to be invented and no one knew what a boutique festival was, let alone Glamping," said Freddie.
Secret Garden Party were the first to introduce drug testing on-site for festival-goers.
'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'Freddie says there would never be a perfect time to announce the news.
"We have never compromised our principles and we never will," said Freddie.
"Secret Garden Party has always been a beacon of what you can do within those terms and, as imitation (being the sincerest form of flattery) proves, it has set the bar for everyone else going forward."
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