Aug 24, 2010


Jorge Luis Borges wrote, "Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire." And it’s still as close a definition as we have. This hour of Radiolab, we try our hand at unlocking the mysteries of time. We stretch and bend it, wrestle with its subjective nature, and wrap our minds around strategies to standardize it...stopping along the way at a 19th-century railroad station in Ohio, a track meet, and a Beethoven concert.

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Radio Recording:            You're listening to Radio, Radiolab on New York Public Radio ... Public Radio ... WNYC ... WNYC.

Jad Abumrad:                   You know this music. Trust me, you've heard it your entire life. The reason you can't recognize it now is because the composer, born in 1770, intended for this moment, the one you're hearing, to last two seconds. Like that.

Jad Abumrad:                   However, had he been a whale, Beethoven might have written his ninth symphony this way. Changes that for us would take an instant would transpire over minutes. A movement might last six hours. That's, in fact, what this is, Beethoven's ninth symphony digitally stretched from its normal 60 some odd minutes to last an entire day, 24 hours.If you sit for the entire 24 hour duration of the piece, as people do from time to time, you realize that this music is not simply slower. The slowness unlocks something in the original. Maybe it was there all along and we couldn't hear it. But played with the meter ... the music is mostly about meter, after all ... then the music has a different story to tell, a secret perhaps, locked up inside the routine. Change the routine, you make new discoveries. That's what we'll do this hour. We'll look at time so closely we'll discover new things about it.

Jad Abumrad:                   This is Radiolab, I'm Jad Abumrad. My guest tonight for the next hour to help me wrestle with time is the science corespondent Robert Krulwich of ABC News, and NOVA, and Nightline. How are you sir?

Robert Krulwich:            I'm very well. I like this bathing in Beethoven thing you've got goin on here.

Jad Abumrad:                   It's cool, right?

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah.

Jad Abumrad:                   Yeah. Actually, at the end of the program we will be dropping in on a performance that happened recently in San Francisco where people listen to it over the course of an entire day.

Robert Krulwich:            A day?

Jad Abumrad:                   A day. So where first?

Robert Krulwich:            Let's begin with a guy who I think you'll find ... well, he thinks very deeply about time. In fact, in a very gentle kind of way you could say he's time obsessed. You've heard of the neurologist Oliver Sacks?

Jad Abumrad:                   Sure, the man who mistook his wife for a hat?

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah, right.

Jad Abumrad:                   And [crosstalk 00:03:32].

Robert Krulwich:            That's right. So I was over at his house ... this was me actually over at his house right now.

Jad Abumrad:                   Key turning.

Robert Krulwich:            And he told me this story ...

Oliver Sacks:                      I don't know whether this is relevant. I had an odd experience some years ago. In fact, in 1993, when I got a message from my publisher, which they had sent out to various other authors, for their 21st birthday, their jubilee, asking if we would like to select a year from the previous 21 years and write about it. When I got this message, I thought, well why don't I choose 1972, which was the first of the years. It's a year which is very vivid and important for me. Partly because it was the year in which my mother died, partly it was the year in which I completed Awakenings. These two events were coupled in some ways.

Oliver Sacks:                      I was actually in the car when I got this message. I picked it up on a car phone. I was driving up to Canada. I had a tape recorder with me. I spoke 1972 aloud. By that time, I thought, well why stop? Why don't I do 1973, as well.

Robert Krulwich:            How long did '72 take? Did you get to Montreal or were you still ...

Oliver Sacks:                      No '72 probably took about half an hour. By the time I got to the Canadian boarder I was up to 1987. I did, in fact, make an extra loop so that I could complete things. However, it turned out that the most recent years, the late '80s and the '90s, I did not apparently have such detailed memories of. They seemed subjectively shorter.

Robert Krulwich:            So time, I guess we all know this, is a very plastic thing. It's very swollen and rich some of the time and then it's flacid and eh other times. But because Oliver is so inquisitive, such an investigator at heart, all his life he's looked inside things. Beginning when he was 10, 11, 12, he wanted to get inside time.

Oliver Sacks:                      I had lots of boyish interests. You know, these pre-adolescent interests. They all took a beating when I became an adolescent. But one of theme was chemicals. I had a chemistry laboratory. One of them was photography and I had a dark room and cameras. One of them was plants. In particular, my mother was very fond of ferns. The garden was full of ferns.

Oliver Sacks:                      I love the way in which the curled up fiddle heads or [inaudible] of ferns would unfurl. It was almost as if time was sort of rolled up inside them, as if time itself unfurled. But one couldn't actually see this. They would perhaps take a day or two to do this. I wanted to see it. It made me think of these Christmas things one would blow and these paper trumpets, which would unfold. I set up my camera on a tripod. At least in the day time, I couldn't take pictures at night. I didn't have a flash then. I took a series of pictures every hour or so of the fern and then showed these rapidly by putting them together in a flip book. This way, then, what took a day or two or several hours to happen was compressed into several seconds. The compression of time, photographically, fascinated me.

Jad Abumrad:                   Us, too. If Oliver Sax could make a baby fern unfurl ... Robert, how about this ... radio producer Tony [Schwartz] can do the same thing with his baby niece.

Robert Krulwich:            What?

Jad Abumrad:                   Except in sound.

Robert Krulwich:            Oh.

Jad Abumrad:                   Here, sped up for your appreciation is Nancy Schwartz from birth to age 12 in two minutes, 12 seconds, exactly.

Nancy Schwarts:             [baby crying 00:07:28], la, la, la ... here come ... [baby mumbling 00:07:42] ...

Tony Schwartz:                 Jack and Jill went up the ...

Nancy Schwarts:             Hill.

Tony Schwartz:                 To fetch a pale of ...

Nancy Schwarts:             Water.

Tony Schwartz:                 Jack fell down and broke ...

Nancy Schwarts:             Crown.

Tony Schwartz:                 And Jill came tumbling ...

Nancy Schwarts:             After. Happy birthday, daddy. Happy birthday. Happy birthday to you.

Nancy Schwarts:             If you call a toy store up and you say I want a puppy, and a whistle, and a horn, and a hat, and a dress, and a ballerina costume, that's what you get. But Santa Clause can't bring it you can cry.

Nancy Schwarts:             Tony, if the dog likes [inaudible] if you have to make him house broken, if he makes wee wee in the apartment, have to slap him with a news paper. Then if he doesn't do it again, he's house broken.

Tony Schwartz:                 What do you think of the Russians sending a dog up in the satellite?

Nancy Schwarts:             Well, I hope he doesn't get hurt, but if he does I'm sure they'll send up a medical satellite.

Nancy Schwarts:             In school, we each had to do a report on some place. I'm doing a report on Hawaii. We're taking notes and doing research. This summer we're going camping in the month of July this summer. But for the whole month of July this summer I'm going to go to brownie sleep away camp. It's all girls.

Nancy Schwarts:             You'll miss my hair and it's very special for tonight. It's just so I wanted a page boy with a high top and that's the way I like it.

Nancy Schwarts:             I'm taking guitar lessons and that's fun. I take drama lessons after school and that's great. I've been working on the school news paper. I might be editor next year. I've been discovering boys.

Robert Krulwich:            You know what that is?

Jad Abumrad:                   What's that?

Robert Krulwich:            That is if you were a parent, what you've just heard is a parent clock.

Jad Abumrad:                   A parent clock? That's kind of cool.

Robert Krulwich:            Because the kid gets older. You can't deny the fact that you must be getting older, too. When your son has hair on his legs ... I thought oh man, I'm getting old. But this is true. This is how the whole world works, I think.

Jad Abumrad:                   Everything is a clock, I guess.

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah.

Jad Abumrad:                   By the way that was Nancy Grows Up, an audio flip book recorded and arranged by the great radio producer Tony Schwartz. Thanks to him and to Smithsonian [Folkways] Recordings, and also to you, Mr. Robert Krulwich, for joining me today on our program to talk about time.

Jad Abumrad:                   So, here's my question. If we've got an example of what you just called a parent clock. We've got other kinds of time like, you know, personal time, getting out of bed time [crosstalk]

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah like, most of assistance really, time was measured by oh, it's lunch time, it's wake up time ...

Jad Abumrad:                   Right.

Robert Krulwich:            It's time to milk to cow time ... events or task times.

Jad Abumrad:                   Tasks times. How did we get from task and personal time to clock time?

Robert Krulwich:            Ah, now that's interesting. Let's go back to the 1800s. Imagine a guy, we'll call him Zolton Chaboigon.

Jad Abumrad:                   Zultol Chaboigon?

Robert Krulwich:            Yes. Living in Sandusky, Ohio.

Jad Abumrad:                   Interesting.

Robert Krulwich:            Suppose Zulton wants to know what time it is.

Jad Abumrad:                   Okay.

Robert Krulwich:            So if Zulton walked into, say, Biggsby's Tavern and asked ...

Zulton Chaboigo:            I'm Biggsby could I trouble you for the time?

Mr. Biggsby:                       It's right in front of you. You see this clock here. It's built by my nephew. Not the smartest boy in the world. It says 33 minutes past the hour.

Zulton Chaboigo:            Is that right?

Mr. Biggsby:                       Of course it's right.

Robert Krulwich:            However, if Zulton, instead of going into the tavern, had he gone at that exact same time into the bank building ...

Bank Teller:                        How can I help you, sir?

Zulton Chaboigo:            I wondered if you could show me the time?

Bank Teller:                        Three minutes after the hour.

Zulton Chaboigo:            Is it right, though?

Bank Teller:                        Yes it's right.

Robert Krulwich:            Or, at that very same moment, suppose instead of going to the tavern or the bank, he'd gone to the hotel.

Hotel Clerk:                        Can I help you?

Mr. Biggsby:                       Could you tell me the time, please?

Hotel Clerk:                        Yes, of course. My time piece here says ...

Mr. Biggsby:                       Oh is that silver?

Hotel Clerk:                        Silver style, actually. It's 19 passed the hour.

Robert Krulwich:            So at the tavern, it's 33 passed the hour, at the hotel 19 passed the hour, the bank three past, what time is it really in Sandusky? That's the question. The answer is, there was no official time in Sandusky.

Jad Abumrad:                   Huh? What do you mean there's no official time in Sandusky?

Robert Krulwich:            There wasn't any, not in 1850. The government didn't have a time.

Jad Abumrad:                   Really?

Robert Krulwich:            All there were, were clocks. So in Ohio, in the 1850s, you'd have as many times as there were clocks in the town.

Jad Abumrad:                   Huh.

Robert Krulwich:            So there was no reason, when you think about it, to synchronize. If your clock and my clock were four minutes or ten minutes different in Sandusky in the 1850s, who cares? Until ... the railroad changed everything. Once the railroad came in, if Zulton wanted to take, I don't know ...

Jad Abumrad:                   How about the 3:03 to Cleveland.

Robert Krulwich:            Okay. If he wanted to take the 3:03 to Cleveland, how would he know when it was 3:03?

Jad Abumrad:                   Oh, I see where you're goin with this.

Robert Krulwich:            If you went by the bank's clock, he'd arrive a half hour ahead of time. If he went by the hotel clock, he'd arrive in the nick of time.

Train Conducter:            All Aboard.

Zulton Chaboigo:            Wait, wait, wait ...

Robert Krulwich:            And if you went by the tavern's clock ...

Zulton Chaboigo:            Oh no. Wait.

Robert Krulwich:            So, for the sake of the business, really, railroads created railroad time and began putting up clocks of their own.

Jad Abumrad:                   That makes sense.

Robert Krulwich:            Because the railroads were so important, I mean, the tavern would have to get its beer deliveries from the railroad.

Jad Abumrad:                   I guess the banks would have to get their cash from the railroad and the hotel would have to get their guests from the railroad.

Robert Krulwich:            So it gradually, railroad time becomes everybody's time.

Jad Abumrad:                   So what happened to local time?

Robert Krulwich:            Well, local time disappeared.

Jad Abumrad:                   Really?

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah. If local time means that when it's noon in Sandusky the sun is directly over your head, by 1880 that wasn't true anymore.

Jad Abumrad:                   Oh.

Robert Krulwich:            The railroad had instructed Sandusky that from now on, it's noon would be 20 minutes later so that it could fit into the railroad schedule.

Jad Abumrad:                   Wait, so they moved noon over 20 minutes?

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah and there were protests about this.

Protester 1:                       I put it to you, ladies and gentleman, who owns noon in Sandusky?

Protester 2:                       We do, we do. Sandusky ... Railroad ...

Jad Abumrad:                   So in all seriousness, people fought against this? They rebelled against this?

Robert Krulwich:            Oh yeah.

Jad Abumrad:                   They rebelled against the railroad?

Robert Krulwich:            Oh there were time wars in certain towns where part of the town would go to railroad time, but the other part would determinately stick with what used to be local times and they'd have different times in the town.

Jad Abumrad:                   Wow it's almost like it was a personal freedom issue.

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah. Because time, in a way, represents your own identity. They didn't wanna give up their identity to the railroad, not at first. In the end, Sandusky, and then every other town eventually conformed to railroad time. That is how time became standardized, time became zoned, time became clock referenced. When you asked somebody what time is it? They don't say oh it's bed time or it's lunch time. They don't look up at the sun. They look at a clock, a standard clock. The railroads did that.

Recording:                          Every tick of a clock is time won or lost. Every 60 minute sweep, every 12 hour tour of those relentless hands are turning our car load lots of times.

Jad Abumrad:                   There's an interesting connection to explore here. It has to do with horses.

Robert Krulwich:            Horses?

Jad Abumrad:                   Horses. You mentioned railroad companies. It just so happens that the owner of the biggest railroad company, Leeland Stanford, you know, as in Stanford University?

Robert Krulwich:            Oh from Stanford University, yeah.'

Jad Abumrad:                   Right. He was really into speed. He owned a really fast horse. The horse's name was [Oxoden 00:15:34].

Robert Krulwich:            Oxoden, I remember that.

Jad Abumrad:                   The story goes, this horse was the subject of a gentleman's bet.

Rebecca Solnet:              Well, there was no gentleman's bet. It's a myth. Stanford, as far as we know, was not a betting man.

Jad Abumrad:                   That's Rebecca [Solnet 00:15:46]. She would know. She wrote a book about this called River of Shadows. The focus of her book is the solver of the bet or whatever it was.

Rebecca Solnet:              It was an argument. There's no evidence that there was money on it.

Jad Abumrad:                   In any case, this argument among Stanford and his railroad buddies centered around the following question: when a horse gallops, do all four of its feet leave the ground at once? What do you think?

Robert Krulwich:            I don't know. I mean, it's not a question that I would, frankly, ever ask someone, but ...

Jad Abumrad:                   Well, at the time it was a big question because they had no way of knowing because horses moved faster than eye balls could see.

Rebecca Solnet:              So, Leeland Stanford wanted to prove that a horse had all four feet off the ground at one time. He was recommended to try [Moybridge] as the photographer to capture this.

Jad Abumrad:                   Along comes Edward Moybridge, the photographer. If he could take a picture of the horse at exactly the right instant, you could see whether all four feet were off the ground and solve the bet. Here's the problem, cameras in those days were very slow.

Rebecca Solnet:              A fast exposure would be maybe a second or several seconds. Moybridge was going to push photography to suddenly be able to capture motion in a 500th of a second. Otherwise, you just got blur.

Jad Abumrad:                   Blur. Imagine that first step out of the world of a blur. Moybridge had stretched a wire across the race track and attached it to the shutter mechanism on his camera. Oxoden the horse gallops by, trips the wire which freezes the horse mid gallop, steels him right out of the flow of time. Except Moybridge doesn't take one photo, he takes 24. See, he placed 24 cameras in a line, one after the other, with 24 trip wires stretching across the race track. The horse tripped every one. 24 frozen, unblurry, running horses.

Robert Krulwich:            So what did they see?

Jad Abumrad:                   Well, the pictures formed a series of a horse running. Some of those photos showed Oxoden, yes, with all four feet off the ground.

Robert Krulwich:            So the camera here unlocks a secret. It let's us see something you could never see before because this camera, essentially, it stops time.

Jad Abumrad:                   Exactly. Meanwhile, so as Rebecca Moybridge became fascinated learning more secrets of time, secrets locked inside basic human movements.

Rebecca Solnet:              A leap, a splash, a walk, a pirouette.

Jad Abumrad:                   Wow, how mundane.

Rebecca Solnet:              But they're so enchanted when you really pay attention to them.

Jad Abumrad:                   Yeah.

Rebecca Solnet:              Moybridge had photographed rushing water. He was obsessed with water in his landscape pictures. So he obsessively has people pour water, splash water, pour water over themselves, pour pitchers of water, or pour water into glasses, splash water out of basins, bathe in water ... you can see all these droplets frozen in mid air.

Jad Abumrad:                   There's one particular photo, Robert, where you see a sheet of water suspended in the air, hovering over the splasher kind of like a ghost.

Robert Krulwich:            Hmm ... oh wow.

Jad Abumrad:                   Anyhow, take all those frozen moments and line them one after the other, and play them back, and you've got flow again. Albeit artificial flow, which we call movies.

Robert Krulwich:            Movies are good.

Jad Abumrad:                   Yeah, yeah. But the next time you're feeling stressed out and you say to yourself, I'm stressed. I need to go to a movie to relax. Well, you should know that the technology that made the movies is exactly the thing which sped up the phase of modern life, which stressed you out, which led you to go to the movies.

Robert Krulwich:            I don't ... what does that mean? What do you mean by that?

Jad Abumrad:                   Well, one of the first ways movies were used was to film factory workers doing repetitive tasks. Then, find out how to make those task more efficient.

Robert Krulwich:            So if I were pushing the levels maybe too slowly, is this how ...

Jad Abumrad:                   Right. They would find the guy who did it the right way, film him, slow the film down, and then use that to teach everyone else.

Robert Krulwich:            And then when World War II came, this was not just now in the cause of efficiency, this was a life or death matter because this is how you beat Nazis.

Recorded Voice:             All the scientific devices of chronology, our machines manufacturing time, that pulls it in our hands, means victory. Our hands must be as relentless as the hands of our [inaudible 00:19:57].

Robert Krulwich:            Or there's a whole nother way to think about this. Time can be a weapon in battle.

Jad Abumrad:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Robert Krulwich:            Or it can be the most sensuous, and subtle, and natural thing of the world. I learned about this from a book by Jay Griffith called A Sideways Look At Time. Let me just take a stop here at the clocks, even though you don't like clocks, because there's so many cool clocks in your book.

Jay Griffeth:                       Cool clocks.

Robert Krulwich:            First of all, there's a spice clock.

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes. We use the clocks, as you can see, when it's really dark. You can see that you've just woken up at 2:45 and you really didn't want to wake up at 2:45. But of course for a long time, you know, in the night you don't have a way of seeing what the time is. So somebody invented a spice clock so you could taste your way through the night. There would be maybe kind of cinnamon for about 1:00 and tumeric for 2:00.

Robert Krulwich:            So you're sitting there in bed and you sniff the time?

Jay Griffeth:                       Or you could taste it.

Robert Krulwich:            But how about the clock of birds? This is the [Kalooly] people.

Jay Griffeth:                       Oh yes. Now this is lovely. The Kalooly people of Papau New Guinea, they have what they call a clock of birds ... that certain birds like the New Guinea Frier Bird and the Hooden Bush Bird, when they sing in the mornings, the children are taught to understand that that's a signal to get up and leave and you know, get out of the house. When those birds sing their late afternoon calls, that's a signal to the children to go back home. The forest in Centra Hinds in Papau New Guinea, I've been there. It's a very, very difficult place to be once it's dark. Children would need to know at what time to start heading for home.

Robert Krulwich:            Now how about it's 1751 and Carl [Leneus 00:22:04], famous categorizer of everything in Sweden.

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes, made a flower clock.

Robert Krulwich:            What'd he make?

Jay Griffeth:                       A flower clock so that you could see by the blooming of different flowers what time it was.

Robert Krulwich:            Something that blooms in the morning and then folds up like a Morning Glory, would be there in the morning and then in the evening an Evening Prim Rose would come out?

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes.

Robert Krulwich:            These are all plants that open for an hour or two and then close. So if you're walking by and you see a blush of, let's say pink, then you know oh it must be the morning. Or if you see a blush of purple you go, oh, it must be lunch time or whatever it is.

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Robert Krulwich:            That's, by the way, very good gardening to be able to do that.

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes, isn't it? Isn't it? And connected to that, there's also in the [Andomin] Forest in the Adnomin Islands in the Indian Ocean ... people have a scent calendar, which I find the most beautiful idea. What it was is a way of describing the months by the scents of certain fruits and flowers.

Jay Griffeth:                       Time is everywhere in nature. One of the things I wanted to do with the whole book was to say, you know, we think of time going to do with clocks. In fact, for most of the world, for most of history, time has been absolutely impeded in nature in some beautiful ways.

Jad Abumrad:                   We'll hear more from author Jay Griffith later in the program. Thanks Robert.

Robert Krulwich:            No, thank you.

Jad Abumrad:                   I'm Jad Abumrad. Robert Krulwich and I will be back in a moment.

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Jad Abumrad:                   I'm Jad Abumrad. This is Radio Lab. Our program today is about time, all the different flavors of time. Here with me to show us a taste of flavors is Robert Krulwich, corespondent for ABC News and Nightline.

Robert Krulwich:            Yep, hi.

Jad Abumrad:                   Robert, we've been talking about clocks for the last 20 minutes.

Robert Krulwich:            Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jad Abumrad:                   If you took all the clocks ...

Robert Krulwich:            Ooo you've been counting. 20 minutes exactly.

Jad Abumrad:                   If you took away all the clocks we've been talking about, the bird clock, and the spice clock, and the clock on the wall ...

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah.

Jad Abumrad:                   Then you had to talk about time without mentioning a clock, what are we left with? How would you do it?

Robert Krulwich:            That's actually a pretty tough question. What is time essentially?

Jad Abumrad:                   Yeah.

Robert Krulwich:            I have a neighbor, Brian Green, is a best selling author at [inaudible] Universe, Fabric of the Cosmos most recently, professor of math at Columbia, professor of Physics at Columbia ... pretty much does Columbia. I asked him your question. I asked him, what is time?

Brian Green:                      If you really pushed me and said what is time? I'd say time is that which allows us to see that something has changed. When you see the second hand on your clock goin around, it's changing position. That's the simplest version of a change corresponding to time elapsing.

Jad Abumrad:                   Okay Robert, I'm looking at the clock here on the wall.

Robert Krulwich:            Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jad Abumrad:                   I'm watching the second hand and it is changing positions, just as he says. Now, imagine all the clocks in the world agree on what a second is, but what if we were to take the clocks away? Is there ... I mean, I still in my bones believe that somewhere there is a clock ticking that says what a second is and it's always the same.

Robert Krulwich:            A second is the same in Mars and in ... yeah.

Jad Abumrad:                   Right.

Robert Krulwich:            Everybody thinks that because it's so sensible that time is universally the same for everyone. Now, here's the big secret. Apparently, that's not true. Time is not universal. This is, Brian, is part of Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Brian Green:                      When we move relative to each other, a very basic lesson of relativity is that our watches will tick off time at different rates. If you have a good watch ... I don't know what a good watch is to tell you. I don't own one, but if you had a Rolex ...

Robert Krulwich:            You don't own a watch do you?

Brian Green:                      I never have owned a watch.

Robert Krulwich:            Is that right? You've never owned a watch?

Brian Green:                      I've never owned a watch.

Robert Krulwich:            What?

Brian Green:                      I've never liked the idea of a time piece sort of ticking away on my arm. It really always bothered me. But anyway, if you had a Rolex and I had a Rolex, say, and we synchronize them perfectly, then we move relative to one another, and then we rejoin and compare our watches, they will not agree.

Robert Krulwich:            Well, to demonstrate what Brian was talking about, we are now in the Central Park. We've got the area entirely roped off because we are going to demonstrate one of Einstein's famous thought experiments.

Jad Abumrad:                   All right.

Robert Krulwich:            Which suggests that the subject ... if you will, I would be the subject Jad.

Jad Abumrad:                   By all means.

Robert Krulwich:            The subject must take a trip at an extraordinarily high speed. That's required here. So if you could help me by giving me whatever you've got over there.

Jad Abumrad:                   Sure. Here is a jet pack, a turbo charge jet pack. Put it on.

Robert Krulwich:            Back. Yeah.

Jad Abumrad:                   Okay. Now take these roller blades ...

Robert Krulwich:            Oh okay.

Jad Abumrad:                   Put one on your right foot ...

Robert Krulwich:            I'll put one on my right foot and ...

Jad Abumrad:                   On your left.

Robert Krulwich:            ... on the left. Right.

Jad Abumrad:                   Set the target speed dial on your jet back to 669 million miles an hour.

Robert Krulwich:            That's a little fast. 669 million miles an hour. Okay.

Jad Abumrad:                   Yep. What time does your watch say?

Robert Krulwich:            5:24.

Jad Abumrad:                   So does mine. We are synchronized.

Robert Krulwich:            Exactly synchronized. Okay.

Jad Abumrad:                   Now, when it gets to 5:25 in three, two, one ... push the red button.

Robert Krulwich:            Hitting the red button and ... this is really fast. I am not on planet Earth and I see a galaxy on this side. I see another one coming up over there. Whoo ... another galaxy going by there. Now, by the way, my watch is absolutely quite perfectly. I'm having a lovely time. I'm coming around. I'm back in. Comin in now, comin in now ... coming closer, coming closer, and landed. That was very bracing.

Jad Abumrad:                   Now, Robert.

Robert Krulwich:            Yes, mm-hmm (affirmative) ...

Jad Abumrad:                   Look at your watch.

Robert Krulwich:            All right.

Jad Abumrad:                   What time does it say?

Robert Krulwich:            It says 5:26. What time is on your watch?

Jad Abumrad:                   5:33.

Robert Krulwich:            That's a seven minute difference. Is your watch broken?

Jad Abumrad:                   No, no, no ...

Robert Krulwich:            Because my watch is working pretty well.

Jad Abumrad:                   Time for you is different than time for me.

Robert Krulwich:            You mean literally?

Jad Abumrad:                   Literally it's not that my watch somehow was shooken up and wasn't functioning properly, no. Time itself is not some universal concept. Time is held by the individual, by the observer, so that if I am moving relative to you, time for me elapses at a different rate than it does for you.

Robert Krulwich:            So relativity says that time and speed are mysteriously coupled so that when I go fast, my time goes slow.

Jad Abumrad:                   Which explains why our watches don't agree.

Robert Krulwich:            Exactly. So this whole notion that we all have that time kind of applies the same to everybody on Earth and Mars, Jupiter, the entire cosmos that we can see is totally wrong.

Jad Abumrad:                   But let me ask you this, when you were rushing through space before, your time was apparently going slower, but did you feel slower?

Robert Krulwich:            If I had looked at my watch, everything was perfectly normal to me. My clock was ticking perfectly normal for me.

Jad Abumrad:                   Well so was mine at Central Park so what gives?

Robert Krulwich:            But, if somehow you could have peered in on me up in outer space going real, real fast, I would have seemed slower to you. Not only would my watch be ticking slower for you, everything about me would be behaving slower to you.

Jad Abumrad:                   So what do you do with this information?

Robert Krulwich:            What do you mean?

Jad Abumrad:                   Well, physics teaches us that if I'm, say, running down the street and my time is ticking infinitesimally slower than that guy's time over there.

Robert Krulwich:            Why?

Jad Abumrad:                   Because he's standing still.

Robert Krulwich:            And you're running.

Jad Abumrad:                   Right.

Robert Krulwich:            So you're in different time capsule, kind of, yes.

Jad Abumrad:                   Apparently so. I know this is what science tells me, but my common sense tells me that is completely wrong.

Robert Krulwich:            I know.

Jad Abumrad:                   Nothing in my experience tells me this is the case.

Robert Krulwich:            This is like one of the great conundrums, it seems, to me. That what you learn in science is so different to what you feel in your regular life. How do you live between those two worlds where what you know and what you feel are so different?

Robert Krulwich:            Brian, do you learn to trust your mind over your senses? Is that what you do?

Brian Green:                      Well, I learn to trust my senses, but see them within a much larger framework. I love to walk down the street. Imagine that because I'm walking, I'm kind of shattering the time around me. I'm causing time to elapse at a different rate than it would if I were standing still. I love that idea. It's not that I don't trust experience ...

Robert Krulwich:            So you're hitting Time Square and you're wondering so you think, oh boy, I am really changing the universe of all these other people.

Brian Green:                      Well, I really consider it totally personal so I'm not changing their time.

Robert Krulwich:            Oh so what's going on?

Brian Green:                      I'm changing the rate at which time elapses for me. So I have power.

Robert Krulwich:            So when you run to catch a bus do you think hey, I gotta get on this bus. Also, I'm slowing down time for myself.

Brian Green:                      I do sometimes. Not always, but it's there. When I look at the tabletop, I delight in the fact that I can, in my mind, picture the atoms and molecules and the interactions between them ... and the mostly empty space that's in there ... that when my hand touches the table top, I see the electrons in the outer surface of my hand pushing against the electrons in the outer surface of the table. I'm not really touching the table. My hand never comes in contact with the table. What's happening is the electrons are getting really close together and they're repelling each other. I love the fact that I'm in essence deforming the surface of the table by making my electrons come really close to it. That enriches my experience. It doesn't ...

Robert Krulwich:            Do you share this with others?

Brian Green:                      Rarely.

Radio Recording:            You're listening to Radio Lab on New York Public Radio ... Public Radio WNYC.

Jad Abumrad:                   This is Radio Lab. I'm Jab Abumrad. We're talking about time today and here to help me do that is Robert Krulwich, ABC News and blah, blah, blah ...

Robert Krulwich:            Blah, blah, blah?

Jad Abumrad:                   Yeah.

Robert Krulwich:            Blah, blah, blah is my specialty.

Jad Abumrad:                   We just heard from Brian Green, physicist, tell us about a, frankly, troubling idea that there is no such thing as a standard time, which I'm still having trouble believing, frankly. In any case, it makes me think of this, do you know when you see a tortoise wondering through the garden ...

Robert Krulwich:            Sure.

Jad Abumrad:                   And it's going so slow.

Robert Krulwich:            Uh-huh (affirmative)

Jad Abumrad:                   And then you see a humming bird wiz by. Clearly, they're moving at different tempos, but perhaps they're also experiencing entirely different universes of time. Do you ever wonder about that?

Robert Krulwich:            I think everybody wonders that. But of course unless you are a hummingbird or a tortoise, you could never really know whether what's going on in your head is different.

Jad Abumrad:                   True.

Robert Krulwich:            But Oliver Sax, the neurologist we met before, he found a different tempo ... a radically different tempos ... in human beings.

Jad Abumrad:                   Really?

Robert Krulwich:            He's a neurologist and he works at a hospital in the Bronx, still does, at Beth Abraham, where he once had patients who seemed so slow they were almost frozen. He told me about one of those patients named Myron V.

Oliver Sacks:                      For long periods of the day, Myron would be apparently motionless; although, when I looked at him, I would see his frozen figure in different positions in which his right hand would be raised. A lot of these patients would be frozen in odd positions, which I'm illustrating now.

Robert Krulwich:            A little dialectic poses, hand in the air. But just stuck, stuck in space?

Oliver Sacks:                      Stuck. People would be stuck in odd poses. I thought Myron was one of those. I commented on this, that I had often seen him stuck in these frozen poses. He got indigent and said what do you mean frozen poses? He said I was just wiping my nose. I said, you're joking? You're putting me on. He said I'm not. He was as puzzled by what I said as what I was by what he had said. But then after he had told me this I thought, well hell, I must watch this and I must record it.

Robert Krulwich:            Now he said he was just what? He was just wiping his nose?

Oliver Sacks:                      He said I was just wiping my nose.

Robert Krulwich:            Okay now that's something that takes me about two seconds, roughly.

Oliver Sacks:                      Exactly. Whereas apparently, this movement of the arm, if this is what he was doing, was taking about two hours. So I took a series of photographs at intervals of a few minutes each.

Robert Krulwich:            Of still Myron with his arms gently going up to ...

Oliver Sacks:                      Of apparently still Myron.

Robert Krulwich:            How many photographs did you take?

Oliver Sacks:                      I have about 20 photographs or so in two hours. Then I put them together in a little flip pack. You know, the way one used to do as a kid.

Robert Krulwich:            Right.

Oliver Sacks:                      And then one could, in fact, see with this that the 20 or so photos covering two hours, in fact, showed a smooth movement to wipe his nose, a movement which normally takes two seconds, but which in him was taking two hours. Although this left open the profound puzzle of how come he was not only taking two hours to do so, but didn't realize he was taking two hours to do so? The movement, which to us, was glacially slow, was not slow to him, was normal.

Robert Krulwich:            Did you ever show Myron the pictures that you had made?

Oliver Sacks:                      Yes.

Robert Krulwich:            And did you say so Myron, look at this. It took you two hours to do this. If you did that, then what did he say?

Oliver Sacks:                      Yes. He was astonished. That's too mild a word. He was thunder struck.

Jad Abumrad:                   Wow. So Myron had no idea that he was experiencing the world a bit slower ...

Robert Krulwich:            He had no idea.

Jad Abumrad:                   ... than the rest of us.

Robert Krulwich:            Not until Oliver stapled all the pictures into a flip book and goes ... then sped up time. Then Myron can see what it was that he was doing. But you know, does a turtle know that he's processing slowly? Does a humming bird know that it's processing fast?

Jad Abumrad:                   No.

Robert Krulwich:            I don't think so. But in this case, we now know that this is a human being absorbing and performing at drastically different tempos from the rest of humanity. Oliver has another patient he likes to talk about. Her name is Hester Y.

Oliver Sacks:                      Hester, she would have the opposite of the slow or glaciation. She would move with extreme speed. This came out very, very clearly sometimes when I had the students play ball with Hester.

Robert Krulwich:            What does that mean? They play catch?

Oliver Sacks:                      Yeah, they would play catch. Is that the wrong word? Play ball?

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah, yeah, play catch is right. Yeah.

Oliver Sacks:                      But one of the striking things when people are [inaudible] is when people may appear unable to initiate any action. They can reciprocate. If you suddenly slow a ball to someone with [inaudible 00:39:00], even if they appear absolutely frozen, they will catch it. Often I would demonstrate this to the students. I would usually have seven or eight students. We would usually sit in a semicircle around the patients. So Hester would be in her chair with a semicircle of students facing her. She was so quick. The ball came back and hit the student on his throwing hand.

Robert Krulwich:            Wow. So the guy throws the ball at Hester, she catches the ball and throws it back before he's even put his hand back in place?

Oliver Sacks:                      Just so.

Robert Krulwich:            How many times faster is Hester moving than the student?

Oliver Sacks:                      Well, let me put it in general terms. Her reaction time is a 10th of a second or less. Usually the best reaction times of Olympic athletes is about a seventh of a second. Anyhow, the ball came back very, very fast. I would say to Hester, slow down. You're too quick for them. Why don't you count up to 10, pause before you throw the ball back. Count up to 10.

Robert Krulwich:            And she's still in her very speedy mode.

Oliver Sacks:                      And she'll say okay, okay. And the ball would come back scarcely slower. And I would say, I asked you to count up to 10. In a voice which I really can't imitate, but this is the crushed voice ... the technical term is [tecafilia 00:40:16], rapid speech. The crushed voice of extreme [inaudible 00:40:20], she would say I did. I did count up to 10. I can't speak quick enough for that.

Robert Krulwich:            In her brain, was she thinking that she was giving normal speech?

Oliver Sacks:                      Yeah. She was no more conscious of her speed than Myron was of his slowness.

Jad Abumrad:                   Huh. So Myron has somehow slipped into whale time or turtle time because of the disease which sent Hester in the opposite direction into a kind of humming bird tempo. Do you think there's a limit to this, how fast she can go or how slow he can go?

Robert Krulwich:            Well I guess there must be some kind of physical limits. If she wanted to say 20 thousand words in a second and could even get her brain to do so, her mouth wouldn't work that fast or tongue wouldn't work that fast.

Jad Abumrad:                   Right.

Robert Krulwich:            So there's constraints like gravity, energy, the nature of your body. We are ...

Jad Abumrad:                   What about the rest of us? What kind of range is available to you or I?

Oliver Sacks:                      I am not sure that such radical slowings or speedings occur in the rest of us except, perhaps, in every unusual circumstances. Perhaps in sports and perhaps in situations of mortal danger. People who are in the zone, they may give descriptions of what appears to be a baseball, comes towards one at 100 miles an hour. But some batters ... are they called batters?

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah.

Oliver Sacks:                      Okay.

Robert Krulwich:            Or people at bat.

Oliver Sacks:                      Okay. But people at bat may say that the ball seemed to come to them more slowly, and that they could see the seams on the ball.

Jad Abumrad:                   In the zone. Robert, I just so happen to have something here, which is a perfect illustration of what he's talking about.

Robert Krulwich:            Uh-huh (affirmative)

Jad Abumrad:                   Except it's not baseball. It has to do with track.

Robert Krulwich:            Track's good.

Jad Abumrad:                   He's the short exert.

Track Star 1:                       When I'm up they call my name. I step up on the runway, usually it's just relax, you are the best, plant. I don't think anything else after that.

Track Star 2:                       I want that adrenaline coming when he says runners take your mark because I only got 10 seconds or 9 seconds at that point. You know? But if it's pumpin, pumpin, pumpin, pumpin, then they say take your mark well, I'm exhausted. You know, once I get on them blocks and it's like ... I don't wanna be exhausted. I wanna be on fire at that moment.

Track Star 3:                       So I'm like, I'm ready, I'm ready. Temperature's 52 degrees, 52 degrees out here. My body's warmed up, sittin in the blocks. I'm like, the cold aint even ... it aint even phasing me. I don't even feel no cold because I got so much adrenaline goin through my body. I'm just ready put it to 'em today, put it to everybody.

Track Star 4:                       If you're not ready, it doesn't matter at this point because you have to be ready.

Track Star 5:                       And when he says set ...

Track Star 2:                       Set ... sittin there thinkin it's gonna go off ... you breahin, give it all you got. Just take it out from the gun and just hold on. You gonna feel a strength after you hear it. You'll slow down, no fatigue or nothin gonna come over. Whoever's in the lane behind me, they gonna get it. I'm just listenin ... get in tune, get in tune, listen to the whole hush of the crowd as they get quite for the gun.

Track Star 3:                       And that moment, when they say take your mark set, I become the gun. So when that gun fires, it's almost like I'm the bullet being fired out of the pistol. That's my reaction. When I hear that sound it's almost like there's a firing pin smackin me in my butt and pushin me. It's not that I sound out everything around me, I've all ready sounded out everything because I'm the bullet and it's only me in the chamber.

Track Star 4:                       You line up, you hear the gun, they say set. At that point you become blind and deaf because you don't go off of what you think you've heard because if you do that you've just lost a race. You have to be one with the gun.

Track Star 5:                       When he says set, I just breath all the air in. I take a deep inhale ...

Track Star 2:                       Take one last look at my competitors in the lane, now I'm focused, just thinkin drive and go, drive and go.

Track Star 5:                       And then I hold my breath and then ...

Track Star 2:                       Sweet, sweet, sweet ... drive, drive, drive ... pick 'em up, pick 'em up, pick 'em up ...

Track Star 5:                       I let all the air out and that's when I start runnin as fast as I can.

Track Star 4:                       When you're running, and you're so relaxed in what you're doin to where a song can just pop into your mind about 30 meters, that is the ultimate point I think an athlete wants to be because that's when you get that peak performance. It's almost like everything is moving in slow motion and you watchin the birds kind of slowly fly by. You hear that song just whistling in your ear.

Track Star 1:                       When I take off, and I start to climb, and the air, it all goes pretty fast. But once I hit that apex of the jump and my hips are up over the bar, time really slows down. I mean, you can just feel this rotation. It feels like someone's grabbed a hold of your hips and really given you a push, a boost up in the air. For this moment that you're sort of suspended on top of the bar, it's really serene. It's really almost peaceful. It just seems like it lasts an eternity.

Track Star 2:                       Comin up the turn, I'm in the front, I'm in the front.

Track Star 3:                       They comin for me. They just stocking me like [inaudible 00:45:56].

Track Star 2:                       I'm in the front, I'm in the front.

Track Star 3:                       So I'm just thinkin just get away, just get away, just get away ... turn out the burn.

Track Star 2:                       Hold on, hold on. Just stretch it out, start goin.

Track Star 5:                       Get to the top, tone out the burn.

Track Star 2:                       Hold on, hold on ...

Track Star 4:                       Powering down, powering down like a [inaudible 00:46:08]. See him come up beside me out the peripheral .

Track Star 2:                       Gotta hold on. This is always happenin. They just tryin to get you at the end but you just fight 'em off. You just fight 'em off.

Track Star 1:                       At the end, it's just compete, compete, compete ... and [inaudible] to the tape.

Track Star 3:                       Reach and go, reach and go.

Track Star 5:                       Cut them off, cut them off baby. Cut them off.

Track Star 3:                       Get across the line, just smile at 'em, smile at 'em.

Track Star 5:                       And we get down to the tape.

Track Star 3:                       Got here in like a half of a step. That's the kind of stuff I live for. I live for those intense moments like that right there.

Track Star 2:                       It's hard to accept the facts sometimes, that you are human, but it's true. I've had a heart surgery in the year 2000. But as athletes, and you can ask almost any athlete they'll tell you, we believe we're insensible. If we go in there with any other thought, there's no chance of us accomplishing our goal. Because we have to believe, we have to confuse ourselves into believing that no matter what's wrong with you, or what you're dealing with, it's not gonna be a factor to what you're trying to accomplish. We believe we're insensible.

Jad Abumrad:                   Thanks to The Next Big Thing and sound artist, Ben Reuben, for that. A piece he produced for the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. You can visit them on the web at So, Robert, what do you think?

Robert Krulwich:            This was a case, I think, of athletes showing you how we contest with time, get power by mastering time, shaving it slightly.

Jad Abumrad:                   Time and power have a long history. That's what we'll look at shortly. I'm Jad Abumrad, Robert Krulwich will be back in a moment.

Radio Recording:            You're listening to ... you're listening to, to, two ... you're listening to Radio Lab.

Bill Schiller:                        Hi, I'm Bill Schiller from Oak Harbor, Washington. Radio Lab is supported in part by the National Science Foundation and by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at

Jad Abumrad:                   This is Radio Lab. I'm Jad Abumrad. My guest today Is Robert Krulwich, the science correspondent for ABC News, NOVA, and Nightline. We're talking about time. The freezing of, the speeding up of, the slowing down of, the bizarre science of, and now the politics of time.

Robert Krulwich:            Speaking of which, my interview with ... remember Jay Griffith from when we heard in the previous whatever section?

Jad Abumrad:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Robert Krulwich:            She began her interview with me with a strange declaration which she read off a piece of paper.

Jay Griffeth:                       This is the independent free state of [Trolheim 00:49:06]. We have no allegiance to the government. We do not recognize history, patriarchy, matriarchy, politics, communists, fascists, or lollypop men or ladies. We have a hierarchy based on dog worship. Our currency is to be based on the core barter system. We do not recognize the Gregorian calendar. By doing so, this day shall be known as one. Be afraid, be afraid all ye that hear. Respect this state.

Robert Krulwich:            What was that?

Jay Griffeth:                       That was the manifesto of British anti-road protests in the mid '90s.

Robert Krulwich:            The British anti-road protesters?

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes.

Robert Krulwich:            These people don't like roads?

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes, environmentalists who are protesting against the building of roads. One of the things that they chose to do was to write this self governing manifesto pointing out that for them, they were not gonna recognize Greenwich Mean Time.

Recorded Voice:             At the tone, three hours, 24 minutes [inaudible] universal time.

Jay Griffeth:                       Time is a highly political subject. It initially was the British sense of time, which was transported all over the world. Britain's ruled their empire through ruling the oceans. They ruled the oceans because they discovered chronometers have sufficient accuracy to discover longitude. What the British did in their empires was to insist on GMT, Greenwich Mean Time ... you know, that other countries were sort of Greenwich Mean Time retarded a bit, or advanced a bit. But essentially ours was the norm.

Robert Krulwich:            The real time was in London.

Jay Griffeth:                       Ours was the real time in London.

Robert Krulwich:            Yeah. What's true, of course, is the British don't own the seas anymore, but we all still use Greenwich Mean Time.

Jay Griffeth:                       Absolutely, absolutely. We're very used to thinking that empires are to do with land. What I'm arguing is that actually there have been empires of time.

Robert Krulwich:            There's one story you tell about the rulers ... this is the ruler of Turkmenistan, the current ruler of Turkmenistan, a guy named President [Niasoff 00:51:02]. Now, the month of January in Turkmenistan is called Turkmembashi and the month of April is called Gerbensutan.

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes.

Robert Krulwich:            Why are they called that?

Jay Griffeth:                       Well, he named one after himself and one after his mother.

Robert Krulwich:            You mean everybody there in January calls it president of our country month? Whatever ...

Jay Griffeth:                       Well, I don't actually know whether, you know, that's it's taken off in the street, as it were.

Robert Krulwich:            I see.

Jay Griffeth:                       I rather suspect it probably hasn't. But what he wanted to do was what, in fact, many rulers have wanted to do, is to ally themselves with the clock and the calendar. I mean, like [Polpot] decided that 1975 would be year zero.

Robert Krulwich:            Polpot says all right, everything starts with me? Is that what that means?

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes, exactly. Everything starts with me now, when I say it does. This is year zero.

Robert Krulwich:            And to you, I guess, the joy of time, the deepest most ecstatic version of it, is when you lose it completely?

Jay Griffeth:                       I think that's absolutely right. I think that's something that in prayer, in meditation, in art, and in love, actually, is that people lose that very fretful ticking off kind of sense of clock time. What you fall into is something transcendent. You know, all that you have to have done is loved somebody, to know that, and to hold them for half an hour and you can know that that half an hour has lasted an eternity.

Robert Krulwich:            Time standing still in the moment like that is a really swollen now.

Jay Griffeth:                       Yes, exactly, exactly. And that in a sense, that's when the moment meets the eternal. That is all that matters is just this moment that you're holding in your hand.

Jad Abumrad:                   Thanks Robert, that was great.

Robert Krulwich:            Thank you.

Jad Abumrad:                   Jay Griffith is the author of A Sideways Look At Time. You can find out more about her on our website, We'll close our program today on time the way we started with an excerpt of a performance of Beethoven's ninth symphony.

Robert Krulwich:            Uh-huh (affirmative)

Jad Abumrad:                   Except this is not the way Beethoven would have intended it to be performed. The piece he wrote to last 70 minutes has been stretched to 24 hours.

Robert Krulwich:            24 hours.

Jad Abumrad:                   Yep, bringing it even closer to eternity. Recently a group of San Franciscans spent an entire weekend in a gallery in a trance listening to all 24 hours. It began on a Friday evening.

San Fran Group:              It is 1:02 in the morning ...

Jad Abumrad:                   And went all night.

San Fran Group:              So it's about 3:45 in the morning.

San Fran Group:              It's 3:55 in the morning.

San Fran Group:              It's 4:00 in the morning.

Jad Abumrad:                   Sound artist Aaron Zen was there, otherwise known as the quite American. The performance was at his gallery, in fact. To close our show today we asked him to give us a taste of what it sounded like.

Aaron Zen:                          It starts with this verse dun, dun, dun ... dun, dun, dun, dun ... and then da dun, da dun, da dun, da dun ... but you know, here it's like ... even though it's a very simple thing to do to say okay, it's not gonna be 90 minutes it's gonna be a day, it still gives you that sense of floating time or hanging time ... a time that takes a long time to pass ... that you have in certain places in your life where a major thing happens. It evokes that somehow.

Aaron Zen:                          You know how people report that your life flashes before your eyes in a car crash or something like that? Time seems to slow down for people, it's like these really intense moments. What if you happen to be playing Beethoven's ninth symphony on your car stereo while you were going into some car crash or something? Would it slow down and sound like this?

Man:                                       The idea was to stretch something to 24 hours. By stretching Beethoven's ninth, I [inaudible] only retro piece of music, a stretch music history.

San Fran Group:              Oh God, Beethoven for 24 hours.

San Fran Group:              I'm just wondering if Beethoven is slowly spinning in his grave.

San Fran Group:              [Livinga 00:55:29], that's my name. I'm here in San Francisco this weekend. This is the second full 24 hour performance.

San Fran Group:              Upstairs, where the performance is going on, has a good vibe. Everything seems very gentle.

San Fran Group:              The floor is completely covered with bean bags or pillows.

San Fran Group:              The space has really amazing acoustics.

San Fran Group:              Sounds system here is really good.

San Fran Group:              What can I say? It's deigned to be [inaudible 00:55:50].

San Fran Group:              Why would I do this? I have no idea why I'm doing it. Will I do it again? I don't know.

San Fran Group:              I want to see how I feel being exposed to a one unit piece of ...

San Fran Group:              My first response was a very calming response. When I walked in it was overwhelming.

San Fran Group:              And then I came in. I wanted to stretch and you know, just open up and expand.

San Fran Group:              It was peaceful.

Aaron Zen:                          So, I had this thought that different animals based on probably their size and their heart rate might have different senses of time. Like, you see a humming bird zipping around in this manic way. You think we humans must seem very slow to that humming bird. Everything we do must almost be in slow motion to something that can just deal with things that quickly. To a whale or some huge animal with a heart rate that is like once every few minutes, we must seem really fast. This piece is kind of like that. Suddenly, I felt like I was moving at humming bird speed.

San Fran Group:              It's growing.

San Fran Group:              It's getting louder.

San Fran Group:              It's growing and growing and growing. You're just wanting it to climax and it's not going to. Or it is, rather. It is climaxing, but it's just taking place over such a long time that to us, in our little small human time it doesn't feel like it's climaxing.

San Fran Group:              That's true, it doesn't really climax.

San Fran Group:              The climax never happens.

San Fran Group:              It's just stretching out.

San Fran Group:              Oh God, Beethoven for 24 hours.

San Fran Group:              It's like euphoria for me, I don't know.

San Fran Group:              It made people smile.

San Fran Group:              Maybe someone else ran out screaming.

San Fran Group:              I'm really buzzed.

San Fran Group:              Oh it's like an ecstatic apocalypses.

San Fran Group:              The other thing I felt when I came in and continued to feel was that I was being lifted up. It was just a constant lifting, lifting. There was no end, just a constant lifting, lifting.

San Fran Group:              It just got quiet. It sounded like it was just supposed to go quiet there.

San Fran Group:              Yeah, it'll be a stretched out quiet.

San Fran Group:              Yeah, it's probably just like a rest.

San Fran Group:              Yeah but it'll be however many times ... fuck. Here it comes again.

Jad Abumrad:                   That was produced by sound artist Aaron Zen with help from Bronwin Zen and Jeremiah Moore. You can find more of Aaron's work on our website,

Robert Krulwich:            Jeb, that was actually going to be the long A vow, the all dimension sequence, but I was unable to make it to San Francisco. I guess we gotta get outta here.

Jad Abumrad:                   Yeah, we should close the show.

Jason Pirite:                      This week's show was produced by myself and Ellen Horn. With help from Robert Kurlwig, Max Dot, Brenda Farrel, Muigel Gomez-Estern, Salley Hershits, Miuki Iack Herod, Ronta Iniolery-Pokanonso, and Trent Moldy. Special thanks to Andy Lanset and Jenna Dare. Very special thanks to all the track and field athletes featured in this show, Shawn Crawford, Amy Accuff, Brenda Caws, Derek Atkins, John Drummins, and Mary White. I'm Jason Pirite. All right, hope that works for ya.