“It’s relative, stupid!”
Confession: The correct title of this article is “On the
Effects of External Sensory Input on Time Dilation”. But we didn’t want
to scare you, so used what we consider to be a more appropriate title. As
far as we know, Einstein never said “It’s relative, stupid,” but he could
Abstract: When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems
like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer
than any hour. That’s relativity.
As the observer’s reference frame is crucial to the observer’s perception
of the flow of time, the state of mind of the observer may be an additional
factor in that perception. I therefore endeavored to study the apparent
flow of time under two distinct sets of mental states.
Method: I sought to acquire a hot stove and a pretty girl. Unfortunately,
getting a hot stove was prohibitive, as the woman who cooks for me has forbidden
me from getting anywhere near the kitchen. However, I did manage to surreptitiously
obtain a 1924 Manning-Bowman and Co. chrome waffle iron, which is a reasonable
equivalent of a hot stove for this experiment, as it can attain a temperature
of a very high degree. Finding the pretty girl presented more of a problem,
as I now live in New Jersey. I know Charlie Chaplin, having attended the
opening of his 1931 film City Lights in his company, and so I requested that
he set up a meeting with his wife, the movie star Paulette Goddard, the possessor
of a Shayna punim, or pretty face, of a very high degree.
Discussion: I took the train to New York City to meet with Miss
Goddard at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal. She was radiant and
delightful. When it felt to me as if a minute had passed, I checked my watch
to discover that a full 57 minutes had actually transpired, which I rounded
up to one hour. Upon returning to my home, I plugged in the waffle iron
and allowed it to heat up. I then sat on it, wearing trousers and a long
white shirt, untucked. When it seemed that over an hour had gone by, I stood
up and checked my watch to discover that less that one second had in fact
passed. To maintain unit consistency for the descriptions of the two circumstances,
I rounded up to one minute, after which I called a physician.
Conclusion: The state of mind of the observer plays a crucial role
in the perception of time.
This article originally appeared in the now defunct Journal of Exothermic
Science and Technology (Vol.1, No.9; 1938)