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back to article Life … moves … in … slow … motion … for … little … critters … like … flies

The smaller the creature and the faster its metabolic rate, the slower it perceives time, say a group of researchers from Ireland and the UK. "Animals smaller than us see the world in slo-mo," study leader Andrew Jackson from Trinity College Dublin told The Telegraph. "It seems to be almost a fact of life." Jackson and his …

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Holmes

Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

Oh dear, here comes one of those annoying human handss .... hmm, let's see, if I lift off around about ...wait for it... now....he'll miss me! Hee hee!

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Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

Bit like dodging that falling spaceship in Prometheus. Except flies are smarter than humans (or at least Hollywood script writers).

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Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

Why swat when you can poison them and watch them die slowly?

Mmmmmmm

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Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

@LarsG

Agreed, i have a variety of insecticides at my disposal, some acute, some VERY acute.

There is a wasp destroyer i use like this.

1.put on thick glove.

2.Spray this stuff into the nest entrance.

3.Plug hole with gloved thumb QUICKLY

4.Count to 10.

5.remove thumb and watch as dozens of dead and dying wasps fall out of the hole like a like a small arthropod waterfall.

I love my job, it encompasses the two things i enjoy doing. Driving and killing things.

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It's surprisingly easy to kill a fly.

Oddly you can take as long as you like to kill a fly on a window, by pushing a curtain onto it. complete failure to detect threat of imminent death.

Don't bother waving your hands around. just use a big white sheet of paper or a curtain and close in on the fly whilst it is sitting on the glass. easy as squashing bugs. Literally.

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Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

"Why swat when you can poison them and watch them die slowly?"

Because it's now very difficult to poison the beggars. When I were a lad, fly spray worked, and worked well. Nowdays you can only buy rubbish based on permethrin, which only works if you get a direct hit, hose it out of the sky, and then drown the victim in it. Personally I blame all the tree huggers.

Which leads me on to an interesting thought about bees, though: We've got all this doom and gloom about bees apparently due to residual pesticides, which we didn't have when farmers (supposedly) sprayed organophosphates all round with gay abandon. Could it be the permitted "less damaging" pesticides are worse than the things they replaced? I accept that organophosphates caused careless users to grow three buttocks and two heads, but that's a risk I'm willing to take if I can have fly spray that actually does what it says on the tin.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

tea towel, flick so that the end whips round, gets 'em every time

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Black Helicopters

Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

Fly sitting on table (or similar). Don't try to swat with your hand, it will fly away before your hand reaches it. Instead do this:

Put your index finger and thumb into "flicking" position, then slowly slide your hand along the table surface. When just in range, FLICK! This is the fastest movement the human body can make, fast enough to get the fly. It won't be killed but it will be lying stunned on the floor just over there, and you have about 10 seconds to wander over and squash it before it recovers.

Icon looks a bit like a squashed fly??

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Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly

@Ledswinger: Farmers are not bound by the same laws wrt what pesticides they may use as us ordinary mortals. DDT is gone, but they've got a huge arsenal of pesticides

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Happy

Re: Which explains why it's so darned hard to swat a fly @Ledswinger

I use the cockroach variants of insecticide. Point it at fly, send a small spray. Fly will go down in seconds! And no need to make the entire room biohazard :)

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IT Angle

I have a very strong recollection of watching a BBC series, Supersense (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersense) in 1988. I clearly recall a scene shot from the view of a fly, which showed someone in their living room attempting to swat the fly and knocking over a cup of tea - all of which happened in slow motion to the fly. So, not being a specialist in this field myself, I'm curious what's new about this research considering I recall having the same thing explained to me 25 years ago?

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Anonymous Coward

I sense another glorious Ig Nobel might be heading our way.

Yey!

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Without being an expert, this new research attempts to get some quantitative evidence, whereas that documentary you saw was based on the valid observation "don't them buggers move quick".

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Actually I don't think it was as flippant as that. Whilst hearing this Radio 4 interview, I had a distinct feeling of Deja vu. This also included talking about elephants having a slower metabolic rate and their perception of time.

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"This also included talking about elephants having a slower metabolic rate and their perception of time."

So if its down to metabolic rate, does Mo Farrah see the world around him in slow motion, whilst the FBs in McDonalds see the world as a speeded up video?

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yeah, I remember watching it although I didn't remember the name of the program. They also simulated the time perception of dogs and cats etc. It's hardly ground-breaking research.

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It's hardly ground-breaking research.

It provides new evidence, using techniques that have only become available relatively recently, to confirm a longstanding hypothesis about the relationship between metabolic rate and temporal perception in vertebrates. Maybe that's not exciting to all the geniuses who spend their time criticizing scientific research on the Reg, but to those who actually care about how scientific knowledge is produced, it's quite important.

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Kids are faster

because they carry less baggage. Emotional, intellectual and flabby. Nice research but kids don't perceive time moving more slowly otherwise the world champion at wiff waff would be six.

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Re: Kids are faster

I dunno, I've seen six year olds complete Sonic the Hedgehog in a time I could never hope to beat (I was twelve at the time) /anecdotal

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Re: Kids are faster

I always felt it was the opposite and that kids were a bit dull witted. They are smart arses for sure but a bit slow on the uptake. Then again, as I wane into past through the second half on middle age I do notice that a week goes by quite quickly whilst the youngsters about complain that it takes forever for the weekend to arrive and I can only explain that since a week is a tiny fraction of my total temporal experience it should seem quite a bit smaller than for one whom a week is a more substantial fraction of their existence. Certainly a difference in the perception of time would also account for it but I also find I haven't tripped, stumbled or fell for many years where the chitlin's are constantly getting back up with scrapes on their knee so that's a fat lot of good all that speedy perception does them unless I also fall more slowly and thereby have more time to catch myself1.

Meh, I unscientifically maintain that bodily energy is constant and small critters have to use more energy per pound in a given amount of time and that some of that is put toward paying attention to the lesser details like "are we there yet?" and that is why little children and small dogs tend to be yappy and never settle down until the crash that results when their body simply can't keep up because the individual brain and muscle cells appreciate neither size nor time.

1Being taller, I actually do have more time to catch myself but shouldn't that be compensated for in my slowed perception of time?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kids are faster

Sadly I see that all the non believers are singletons without children....

Your time will come and you will understand Grasshopper.

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Re: Kids are faster

I would agree with most of your sentiment, but I would also postulate that being an adult you have built up muscle memory, so if you start to stumble you correct for it without actually thinking about it. That and I suspect the kids are charging about at full speed, so are more likely to stumble, whereas old gits tend to shuffle about the place as slowly as they can get away with, and would prefer not to get up off the sofa at this precise moment in time if it's all the same to you, thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

Size of brains?

I believe signals transfer across neurons at ~200 MPH... meaning it takes a non-trivial amount of time for something to get from the front of a person's head to the back, and then to get to the muscles in question to provide a reaction... Make everything smaller but keep the 200 MPH constant and you have a much faster system, relatively speaking.

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Re: Size of brains?

Graphene will solve it. It solves everything.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Size of brains?

Flies don't have brains, otherwise they would be ruling the world.

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Alert

Re: Size of brains?

Flies don't have brains, otherwise they would be ruling the world.”

I Disagree, Flies do have brains, they are just don’t care, just like Cows, have you ever met an ill-tempered cow? Can you imagine having a fight with a cow? Have you ever thought how one man and a dog can control a number of cows? If the cows wanted to they could crush them both easily.

Cows are huge, strong and move in packs, not only do they have more stomachs then us and much larger penises (therefore more evolved), but they can communicate with the most basic of sounds and can even predict the weather without using any technology, they can be found in every place humans are (apart from Antarctica) and their skin is so tough we use it to protect our pathetic bodies, they have no fear of death and there are more than a billion of them.

Don’t kid yourself Jimmy, if a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about.

The day of reckoning is coming, they are just waiting for the right time, and one thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the cows will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new bovine overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted admin and personal lawn owner, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their grass fields.

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Re: Size of brains?

Relevant link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQMbXvn2RNI‎

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Joke

Re: Size of brains?

> Graphene will solve it. It solves everything.

Duct tape made of graphene...

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Duct tape made of graphene...

Mind = blown

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Pirate

Darkness

Beginning tomorrow I will begin to have all sources of light extinguished. Beginning in government offices. I will exercise my leverage within the aerospace industry to begin planing a program to eliminate Sol. Yay! Even the infernal Sun itself must be extinguished or we will certainly all die from exposure to its light.

Beware those who will deceive with tales of warmth, safety and even life emanating from The Light. The Light is Darkness and must be extinguished.

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Boffin

Humans...60Hz...

Now I know why we have that as a power frequency.

Maybe the French started when they were a little older, thus 50Hz.

Then again, Americans are a little quicker on the draw?

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Holmes

Re: Humans...60Hz...

Fail! Frequency is 60Hz, but it's AC. therefor two pulses of light per cycle!

Even then, due to the glow persistence of most artificial lights being much longer than 0.01 second. This flicker generally only applies to florescent tube type of lighting.

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Happy

Re: Humans...60Hz...

Even then then the flickering of fluorescent lights is due to the design of the ballast and the cathodes more than the frequency of the mains supply. You can eliminate visible spectrum flicker, but nobody wants to pay for it :)

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Pint

Life is logarithmic

Life is logarithmic; it's half-over by age ten.

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Pity the urban wildlife...

To rats, cockroaches, owls and pigeons, every streetlight and TV must be pulsing at a headache-inducing rate.

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Joke

Re: Pity the urban wildlife...

To rats, cockroaches, owls and pigeons, every streetlight and TV must be pulsing at a headache-inducing rate.

Well, I feel sorry for the owls at least.

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Anonymous Coward

Humans...

Not everyone has that 60Hz CFFF. Have you ever wondered why 120Hz monitors looks so smooth? No, then you have a lower CFFF. There was this study about gamers...

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Re: Humans...

I hope you are are aware of the whole vsync thing, so the 60Hz screen limited to 60 fps, while the 120Hz screen can hit 120fps, assuming it has a video card beefy enough to drive it. And I believe those were first-person shooters, so games that have other things to account for, like perceived and real latency and lag between game action and user input.

Human vision is more attuned to movement than static images. A flickering light is really just a static image, where as a video will likely have movement and keep the eyes and brain on high-alert. You should try staring at yourself in a mirror for a while with a single point of focus, and see what happens. Here's a hint: Your brain gets bored and plays games with itself....

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Happy

Re: Humans...

From the instant your brain realizes what you are looking at your visual acuity is automatically scaled back and a proportionate increase in peripheral vision with a bias towards motion takes place. Once your brain knows what something is it doesn't see any advantage in continuing to stare at it.

You can observe this in action in extremely proficient marksmen, biathletes are a good example; they will fire instantly on sighting the target. It isn't just adrenaline and shaky arms, its that the longer you look at something the more your brain starts to screw with everything from depth perception to detail even to lateral position.

Many believe this fact is responsible for the same person having trouble positively identifying details of something they see. They've in fact seen it many, many different times in just a few moments but their brain was gradually removing detail the longer they looked. None of their answers are wrong, what they saw actually appeared differently.

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There is a problem with that idea

Because I have no memories at all of perceiving the world as moving slower when I was a kid.

There should be if that idea was true. Unless they are Orwellistically rearranged, too.

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Boffin

Re: There is a problem with that idea

Memory is notoriously unreliable, particularly when it comes to trying to recall (a) colours and (b) timeframes.

Quick - without looking, what colour socks do you have on right now? And how old are they?

If you'd had, as I did, to work in a magazine publishing office where every freakin' day was punctuated by readers phoning up and asking "That article you ran about 3 months ago..." - and then having to trawl back through five years' worth of publications to find it - then you wouldn't cite your own memory as evidence of anything remotely time-related.

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Re: There is a problem with that idea

Re-examine your memories, then. Or rather, don't look for slow motion, but for how you perceived time periods.

I distinctly remember that when I was a kid, I could catch small quick critters like flies and lizards with my bare hands fairly easily. Now, at 51, I cannot.

Also, a year felt like an eternity when I was 10, the distance between Christmases was immense. Now they almost flit by... :-(

The research seems spot on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is a problem with that idea

I have white socks on. I always have white socks on

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Re: There is a problem with that idea

Did you go to school as a child. I remember endless days and waiting thousands of minutes for lunch break or recess. An eternity could pass if I did not make something happen. Adults misperceived me as bouncing off the walls.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is a problem with that idea

@MacroRodent

Looking back to primary school days, summer holidays seemed almost infinite.

I now find it hard to beleieve they're only 6 weeks or so.

When I first read the article, I thought it was stating the bleedin' obvious.

Then there's the theory that mammals hearts all have a similar lifespan in number of beats.

So a smaller animal than us with twice the heart rate lives half as long - do they perceive time half as slow too?

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Re: There is a problem with that idea

Veti» Quick - without looking, what colour socks do you have on right now?

Easy. Black, or, at least, originally black und now washed out black [1], and they are the first two that were pulled out of the sock drawer this morning. They might even match. I haven't looked yet.

[1] cue Father Ted quote about black socks.

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Re: There is a problem with that idea

"I have white socks on. I always have white socks on"

That earned you a downvote. And I'll be they're polyester towelling as well.

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Re: There is a problem with that idea

Kids on summer holidays have nothing to do for six weeks.

Try taking six weeks off with nothing to do - no work, no demands, nothing in the schedule, no plans - and see how long it lasts.

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Headmaster

Re: Problem? Ask Someone Who Knows.

Why don't one of you email a monk in Tibet, or a man on a deserted island and ask them how they perceive time?

Seriously, they likely will have experienced the hectic world at large before entering a life of contemplation and/or a castaway, so they would have a valid comparison.

I guess a prisoner in long term solitary confinement might work too, but they tend to come unhinged and their input might not be useful. Plus the perception of time inside a prison is artificially manipulated, so that I guess that probably wouldn't be valid.

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