Do you know the time?你知道时间吗?

“Do you know the time?”


Time is a very complex thing. We’re surrounded by it, yet all too often we feel like we don’t have enough of it.

Sometimes, we take it for granted. At other times, we wish we had more.

When we’re busy or having fun, time seems to pass quickly. When we’re bored, or moving slowly — for example, driving at constant speed across a monotonous landscape — it seems to pass at glacial speed.

The average tempo of daily life and work has been dramatically sped up by advances in IT, communications, transportation, and productivity. Apart from objective changes in the pace of life, our perspectives change as we grow older.

Young people never say: “Wow. This year went by so quickly.” Older people say this kind of thing frequently.

Our individual perceptions about the passage of time are influenced by a variety of internal and external factors. As a result, our feelings about the passage of time vary considerably, despite the fact that time’s passage on a clock is a very consistent, measurable phenomenon.

Various types of instruments to accurately measure the passage of time were invented in ancient China, Greece, and other civilizations thousands of years ago.

There is no ongoing scientific debate about the fact that one day in solar time is comprised of 24 hours, or that one year is 365 days in length. On the other hand, for most of us, our individual perceptions about time are a curious mix of science-based knowledge and subjective experience.


The last time I said that the past year had gone by too quickly, for example, I did not conclude that the calendar, or the clocks, must be inaccurate as a result.

It is a huge blessing that among the things that people around the world still disagree about (which are many), the accuracy of standard clocks and calendars is not one of them. Otherwise, we’d be in even bigger trouble than we are now.


For one thing, the list of common excuses for missed deadlines would be exponentially expanded. This would be a headache for leaders in government, managers in business, sports coaches, editors, teachers and so on.


“Mr. Minister, the new bridge project will be completed right on time according to our calendar. Unfortunately it will be 10 months behind schedule on that calendar your people have been using. These damn regional calendars! So many choices available in the market….”

Although humankind has been able to accurately measure the passage of solar time for many centuries, international agreement on a framework to coordinate and standardize time zones around the globe is a relatively recent development, dating from the late 19th century.




















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