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绡僵 :時間概念與人們的錯誤認知

篮球竞彩nba www.xvrnl.com   What we get wrong about time

  時間概念與人們的錯誤認知

  “Time” is the most frequently used noun in the English language. We all know what it feels like as time passes. Our present becomes the past as soon as it’s happened; today soon turns into yesterday. If you live in a temperate climate, each year you see the seasons come and go. And as we reach adulthood and beyond, we become increasingly aware of the years flashing by.

  “時間”是英語中使用頻率最高的名詞。我們都知道時光流逝是什么感覺。現在發生的事很快就變成了過去;今天轉眼就變成了昨天。如果生活在溫帶氣候,每年你都還能看到季節更替。隨著我們長大成人,我們越來越意識到時光飛逝。

  Although neuroscientists have been unable to locate a single clock in brain that is responsible for detecting time passing, humans are surprisingly good at it. If someone tells us they’re arriving in five minutes, we have a rough idea of when to start to look out for them. We have a sense of the weeks and months passing by. As a result, most of us would say that how time functions is fairly obvious: it passes, at a consistent and measurable rate, in a specific direction – from past to future.

  神經科學家一直無法確定大腦中哪個部位負責感知時間流逝,但人類特別擅長感知時間。如果有人說將在五分鐘內到達,我們大概能估計什么時候他們就快到了。我們還有周復一周、月復一月的感覺。因此,大多數人會說,人類感知時間的能力是相當明顯的:它以一致和可測量的速度,從過去到未來、沿著固定的方向流逝。

  Of course, the human perspective of time may not be exclusively biological, but rather shaped by our culture and era. The Amondawa tribe in the Amazon, for example, has no word for “time” – which some say means they don’t have a notion of time as a framework in which events occur. (There are debates over whether this is purely a linguistic argument, or whether they really do perceive time differently.) Meanwhile, it’s hard to know with scientific precision how people conceived of time in the past, as experiments in time perception have only been conducted for the last 150 years.

  當然,人類對時間的感覺可能不僅僅是生物學上的,也可能是由文化和時代所塑造的。例如,亞馬遜地區的阿蒙達瓦(Amondawa)部落就沒有“時間”這個詞。有人說,這意味著他們沒有時間的概念,沒有一個事件發生的框架。關于這是否純粹是語言學問題,或者他們是否以不同方式感知時間,尚存在爭議。與此同時,我們很難用科學的方法精確地了解古代人們是如何構想時間的,因為關于時間感知的實驗只進行了150年。

  What we do know is that Aristotle viewed the present as something continually changing and that by the year 160, the Roman emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius was describing time as a river of passing events. And in the West, at least, many would still identify with these ideas.

  我們所知道的是,亞里士多德認為,現在是一種不斷變化的東西。公元160年,羅馬帝國哲學家馬可·奧勒留(Marcus Aurelius)把時間描述為一件件流逝的事件。至少在西方,許多人仍然認同這些觀點。

  But physics tells a different story. However much time feels like something that flows in one direction, some scientists beg to differ.

  但是物理學有不同的解釋。無論多少人感覺時間像是朝一個方向流動的東西,一些科學家卻不認同。

  如果記憶僅僅像錄像帶,那么想象一個新環境將會變得很困難。

  In the last century, Albert Einstein’s discoveries exploded our concepts of time. He showed us that time is created by things; it wasn’t there waiting for those things to act within it. He demonstrated that time is relative, moving more slowly if an object is moving fast. Events don’t happen in a set order. There isn’t a single universal “now”, in the sense that Newtonian physics would have it.

  上個世紀,愛因斯坦的發現打破了我們對時間的傳統理解。他告訴我們時間是由事物創造的;不是在那里等著這些事物在時間里面發揮作用。愛因斯坦證明了時間是相對的,如果一個物體移動得快,時間的速度就會慢一些。事物不是按既定的順序發生的。在牛頓物理學中,并不存在單一的普遍意義的“現在”。

  It is true that many events in the Universe can be put into sequential order – but time is not always segmented neatly into the past, the present and the future. Some physical equations work in either direction.

  的確,宇宙中的許多事件都可以按順序排列,但時間并不總是被整齊地劃分為過去、現在和未來。一些物理方程式的計算結果中,時間可以雙向運動。

  A few theoretical physicists, such as the best-selling writer and physicist Carlo Rovelli take it even further, speculating that time neither flows, nor even exists. It is an illusion.

  一些理論物理學家,比如暢銷書作家和物理學家卡洛·羅維里(Carlo Rovelli)甚至更進一步,推測時間既不流動,也不存在。這只是一種幻覺。

  Of course, although some physicists propose that time does not exist, time perception – our sense of time – does. This is why the evidence from physics is at odds with how life feels. Our shared idea of what the concept of “future” or “past” mean may not apply to everything everywhere in the Universe, but it does reflect the reality of our lives here on Earth.

  當然,盡管一些物理學家認為時間不存在,但我們的時間感確實存在。這就是為什么物理學的證據與生命的感覺不一致。人類對“未來”或“過去”的共同理解可能并不適用于宇宙中的其它地方,但確實反映了地球上的現實生活。

  Like the Newtonian idea of absolute time, however, our belief in how time works for humans can also be misleading. And there may be a better approach.

  然而,就像牛頓的時間絕對論,時間如何影響人類,大眾的理念也可能是錯的。也許有更好的方法去理解。

False pasts 虛假的過去

  One aspect of time perception many of us share is how we think of our own past: as a kind of giant video library, an archive we can dip into to retrieve records of events in our lives.

  我們很多人都有時間觀念,其中一個內容就是我們如何看待過去:就像一個巨大的視頻庫,我們可以利用它來檢索生活中的事件記錄。

  But psychologists have demonstrated that autobiographical memory is not like that at all. Most of us forget far more than we remember, sometimes forgetting events happened at all, despite others’ insistence that we were there. On occasion even the reminder does nothing to jog our memories.

  但心理學家已經證明,自我記憶根本不是那樣。大多數人忘記的事情比記得的要多得多,有時我們完全忘記了發生的事情,盡管別人堅持認為我們在場。有時,即使被提醒也不能喚起回憶。

  As we lay down memories, we alter them to make sense of what’s happened. Every time we recall a memory, we reconstruct the events in our mind and even change them to fit in with any new information that might have come to light. And it’s much easier than you might think to convince people that they have had experiences which never happened. The psychologist Elisabeth Loftus has done decades of research on this, persuading people they remember kissing a giant green frog or that they once met Bugs Bunny in Disneyland (as he’s a Warner Bros character, so this can’t have happened). Even recounting an anecdote to our friends can mean our memory of that story goes back into the library slightly altered.

紐約時報中英文網 //www.xvrnl.com/

  我們可以改變記憶,使之更有意義。每當我們回憶起一段過往,我們就會在腦海中重新構建這些事件,甚至改變它們,以適應任何可能出現的新信息。這比憑空創造要容易得多,讓人們相信其實從未存在過的經歷。心理學家伊麗莎白·洛夫圖斯(Elisabeth Loftus)對此做了幾十年的研究,她讓人們回憶起自己曾親吻過一只巨大的綠色青蛙,或者曾在迪士尼樂園遇見過兔八哥(因為他是華納兄弟的角色,不可能出現在迪斯尼)。即使是向朋友講述一件軼事,也可能意味著我們對那個故事的記憶已經發生了輕微的改變。

  Another mistake we make is to assume that imagining the future is completely different from thinking about the past. In fact, the two processes are linked. We recruit similar parts of the brain to reminisce or to picture our lives in years to come. It is the possession of our memories that permits us to imagine a future, remixing scenes to preview future events in a window in the mind. This skill allows us to make plans and to try out different hypothetical possibilities before we commit.

  我們犯的另一個錯誤是以為想象未來與想象過去是完全不同的。事實上,這兩個過程是相互聯系的。我們用大腦中相似的部分來回憶過去或描繪我們未來的生活。正是擁有了記憶,我們才能想象未來,在腦海中預覽未來的事件。這一技能使我們能夠預先制定計劃,并嘗試不同的可能性。

  These curious sensations occur as a result of the way our brains deal with time. A baby, with little by way of autobiographical memory, lives constantly in the present. She’s happy. She’s crying. She’s hungry. She’s miserable. A baby experiences all this, but doesn’t think back to how cold it was last month or worry that temperature might drop again soon.

  這些奇怪的感覺就是源于我們大腦處理時間的方式。一個幾乎沒有自我記憶的嬰兒總是活在當下。她快樂、哭泣、饑餓、悲傷。嬰兒會經歷所有這些,但不會回想起上個月有多冷,也不會擔心氣溫很快會再次下降。

  Then gradually a toddler will begin to develop a sense of self. With that development comes an understanding of time, of yesterday as distinct from tomorrow.

  然后慢慢地,一個蹣跚學步的孩子會開始建立自我意識。隨著這一發展,便開始理解時間,理解昨天與明天的區別。

  Even at that age, though, imagining one’s self in the future remains a challenge. The psychologist Janie Busby Grant found that if you ask three-year-olds what they might do the following day, only a third can give an answer judged to be plausible. When the psychologist Cristina Atance gave small children some pretzels to eat followed by the option of more pretzels or some water, it won’t surprise you to learn that, thirsty after eating the salt, most chose water. But when she asked them what they would like to have when they came back the next day, most still opted for water. (Adults chose pretzels, knowing that by tomorrow they will feel hungry again.) Very small children are unable to imagine themselves in a future where they might feel differently than they do in this moment.

  盡管如此,在那個年紀想象自己的未來仍然是一個挑戰。心理學家珍妮·巴斯比·格蘭特(Janie Busby Grant)發現,如果你問三歲大的孩子第二天可能做什么,只有三分之一的孩子給出的答案被認為是可信的。心理學家克里斯蒂娜·阿坦斯(Cristina Atance)給小孩子們吃了一些椒鹽圈,然后讓他們選擇是吃更多的椒鹽圈還是喝點水,感到口渴的孩子大多數都選擇了水,這并不奇怪。但接著問他們第二天回來想要吃什么時,大多數人還是選擇水。成年人會選擇了椒鹽圈,因為知道明天回來他們又會覺得餓 。小孩子們則無法預計未來會和現在有什么不同。

  The experience of time is actively created by our minds. Various factors are crucial to this construction of the perception of time – memory, concentration, emotion and the sense we have that time is somehow located in space. Our time perception roots us in our mental reality. Time is not only at the heart of the way we organise life, but the way we experience it.

  對時間的經驗是由我們的思想主動創造的。各種因素對于時間經驗的構建都至關重要——記憶、注意力、情感,以及我們對時空關系的感知。我們的時間感植根于我們現實的感觀。時間不僅決定我們安排生活的方式,也決定我們體驗生活的方式。

  Of course, you could argue that it doesn’t really matter whether we perceive time accurately according to the laws of physics. On a daily basis, we can carry on walking without needing to remember that, however flat the world feels while you’re on the ground, it is spherical. We still talk of the Sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening, even though we know that it is the Earth and not that the Sun that is moving. Our perceptions don’t keep up with the science – and we can only create our everyday experience of the world using the senses we possess.

  當然,你可能會說,根據物理定律,我們能否準確地感知時間并不重要。在日常生活中,我們可以在不需要記住時間的情況下繼續行走,無論你感覺世界有多平,它都是球形的。盡管我們知道是地球而不是太陽在移動,但我們仍然談論太陽在早晨升起,在晚上落下。我們的感知跟不上科學的發展——我們只能用我們所擁有的感觀來創造我們對世界的日常體驗。

  Likewise, our perception of time is not something we can choose to ignore. However much you learn about four-dimensional space-time, waiting for that delayed train is still going to feel longer than having lunch with your friend.

  同樣,我們也不能忽視對時間的主觀體驗。不管你對四維時空了解多少,感覺上和朋友一起吃午飯的時光很短暫,但等晚點的火車卻需要很久。

    蛐蛐英語 篮球竞彩nba www.xvrnl.com

  But even if we can’t change our perceptions of time, we can change the way we think about it – and perhaps feel better about its passing, and ourselves, as a result.

  時間長短無法改變,但可以改變對時間的態度,因此讓時間流逝中的我們自我感覺更好。

Time for change 時間改變

  Instead of considering the past, present and future to be in a straight line, we can look on our memories as a resource to allow us to think of the future.

  我們不應把過去、現在和未來看成一條直線,而是應盡量把記憶當成資源,讓我們得以思考未來。

  This is crucial. Humans’ ability to time travel mentally, forward and back, is why we’re able to do so many of the things that set us apart – such as plan for the future or create a work of art. And the important role that memory has to play within that isn’t a new idea: Aristotle, for example, described memories not as archives of our lives, but as tools for imagining the future.

  這是至關重要的。人類能夠在思想上進行時間旅行,前瞻或者后顧。因此我們能夠做那么多與眾不同的事情,比如,計劃未來,或是創造一件藝術品。其中記憶的重要性前人早已知曉:例如,亞里士多德的眼中,記憶并非生活的檔案,而是想象未來的工具。

  This means that what may have seemed like a flaw before – our difficulty to recollect the past accurately – is actually an advantage. If memories were fixed like videotapes then imagining a new situation would be tricky. If I asked you to picture yourself arriving at your workplace next Tuesday morning not via your usual route, but instead floating on a lilo on a turquoise canal lined with tropical flowers, past familiar buildings right up to the front door of your office where your old school friends will greet you with a cocktail, in an instant most of you will be able to do it. (An exception is people with an unusual condition called severely deficient autobiographical memory.)

  我們很難準確回憶過去,這以前看起來是一個缺陷,但實際上卻是一個優勢。如果記憶僅僅像錄像帶一樣準確,那么想象一個新環境將會變得很困難。如果我請你想象你下星期二早上去上班,不是你通常的路線,而是乘坐一個漂浮的塑料充氣床墊,沿著兩岸開滿熱帶鮮花的藍綠色的運河劃過去,經過一座座熟悉的建筑,抵達你辦公樓的大門,在那里你的老同學們會拿著雞尾酒迎接你。瞬間你就能夠想象出來這樣的場景。除非是患有嚴重自我記憶喪失缺陷的人。

  Your memory is so flexible that in an instant you can summon up your personally-recorded memories of the street where you work, what it’s like to lie on a lilo, the faces of your school friends, images of tropical flowers and cocktails. You not only locate all these memories which might be decades apart, but you then splice them together to invent a scene you have never witnessed or even heard of before.

  你的記憶如此的靈活,可以在瞬間喚起記憶中你工作的街道、躺在地板上的感覺、你老同學的面孔、熱帶花朵和雞尾酒。你不僅找到了所有這些可能中間相隔幾十年的記憶片段,還把它們拼接在一起,創造出一個你從未見過、甚至從未聽說過的場景。

  Cognitively, it sounds like hard work. In fact, the flexibility of our memories makes it fairly easy to do.

  從認知角度看,這像是一項艱苦的工作。事實上,我們記憶非常靈活,這很容易做到。

  So we shouldn’t curse our memories when they let us down. They’re made to be changeable, in order that we can take millions of fragments of memories from different times of our lives and recombine them to give us endless imaginative possibilities for the future.

  所以不應該抱怨記憶不可靠,會讓我們失望。因為它們可以改變,我們就可以把生活中不同時期的數百萬個記憶片段重新組合起來,為未來提供無限的想象。

  In fact, when our memory for the past is damaged, so is our ability to think about the future. The neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire asked people to describe an imaginary future scenario in which they were standing in a museum. Some said it had a domed ceiling. Others a marble floor. But people with amnesia were unable to suggest what it might look like due to our reliance on memory to allow us to think about the future.

  事實上,當記憶受損時,我們思考未來的能力也會受影響。神經學家埃莉諾·馬奎爾(Eleanor Maguire)讓人們想象未來站在博物館里的場景。有人說它有一個圓頂天花,也有人說是大理石地板。但健忘癥患者卻無法預測未來,因為人類依賴記憶來思考未來。

  Instead of thinking of our memories as a handy video archive, we can bear in mind that our memory of an event might not be perfect – and accept that others might have very different memories of the same event.

  我們不應僅把記憶當作方便的視頻檔案,我們應當了解,對某一事件的記憶可能并不完美,而其他人對同一事件的記憶可能也非常不同。

Slowing down 慢下來

  There’s one other thing we can do. The single question I have been most often asked after writing a book on time perception is, how can we slow time down?

  我們還可以做一件事。寫完一本關于感知時間的書后,我最常被問到的一個問題是,我們怎樣才能讓時間慢下來?

  But I wonder whether we should be careful what we wish for. In middle age, the weeks and the years can feel as though they flash by. But part of our sense of time passing is dictated by the number of new memories we have made. When you look back on a busy holiday, even though it went quickly at the time, in retrospect it can feel as though you were away for ages. This is because of all those new memories you made by spending a week outside your usual routine. If life feels as though it’s going fast, this could be a sign of a life that is full.

  但不知我們是否應該小心翼翼地許愿。人到中年,一年四季仿佛都在飛逝。但我們的時間感部分是由新記憶的數量決定的。當你回顧一個繁忙的假期時,即使那時感覺過得很快,回想起來好像是很多年前的事。這是因為日常狀態之外度過的一周帶給你很多新的記憶。如果你覺得生活過得很快,這可能是生活充實的標志。

  Meanwhile, time does feel as though it’s going more slowly if you are bored or depressed or feeling lonely or feeling rejected, none of which we would want to seek out. As Pliny the Younger wrote in 105, “The happier the time, the shorter it seems.”

  如果你感到無聊、沮喪、孤獨或挫折,感覺時間確實會過得慢些,但這些都不是我們想要的。正如小普林尼(Pliny the Younger)在公元105年所寫的那樣,“越快樂,時間似乎越短暫。”

  But if you do want to shed that unsettling feeling on a Sunday evening that the weekend has whizzed by, there is something you can do: constantly seek out new experiences. Take up new activities at weekends and visit new places, rather than heading for the same pub or cinema. All this fun means the time will fly in the moment – but because you will lay down more memories, when you get to Monday morning, the weekend will have felt long.

  如果你真的想在周日晚上擺脫這種快樂稍縱即逝的感覺,你應當努力在周末尋找新的體驗,參加新的活動,去新的地方,而不是去同一家酒吧或電影院。所有這些新體驗意味著時間飛逝,但因為你留下了更多的記憶,因此到了周一早上,會感覺這個周末很長。

  Some routine, of course, is unavoidable. But if you can create a life which feels both novel and entertaining in the present, the weeks and years will feel long in retrospect. Even varying your route to work can make a difference. The more memories you can create for yourself in everyday life, the longer your life will feel when you look back.

  當然,有些例行公事是不可避免的。但如果你能在當下創造一種既新奇又有趣的生活,那么回顧過去的幾周或幾年,你會覺得很長。即使是換一換上班的路線,也會有所不同。你在日常生活中創造的記憶越多,回首往事時,你就會感到生命越長。

  The way we experience time in our minds is never going to match up with the latest discoveries in physics. We all know what the passing of time feels like. Although we can’t change the way our brains perceive time, there are better ways we can start to think about it. But even then, the way it warps in certain situations will continue to surprise and unsettle us. In the end, perhaps, St Augustine put it best when he asked: “What then is time? If no one asks me, then I know. If I wish to explain it to someone who asks, I know it not.”

  我們頭腦中體驗時間的方式,與物理學的最新發現永遠不一致。我們都知道時間流逝是什么感覺。雖然無法改變大腦感知時間的方式,但我們可以從更好的角度思考時間。即便如此,某些情況下時間被扭曲將繼續讓我們感到驚訝和不安。最后,或許圣奧古斯丁(St Augustine)提出了最好的問題 :“那么,時間是什么?”如果沒人問我,我還知道。如果有人問起,我就向他解釋,我也不知道。"

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