Let me start by stating that I bought this book by mistake. I thought I was getting a book on the physics of time, of how the perception of time changes with speed for example, and what research is being done in this field.
What I got instead was a book on the biology of time, which, as it turns out, is equally interesting.
“Time Warped” can be roughly divided into two segments. The first, and more interesting, half deals with how our brains process and perceive the passage of time. This is something we take for granted, but when we think about the fact that we are arguably the only specie on the planet to mark the passage of time so methodically, we ought to wonder how our brains manage to do so. Claudia Hammond takes us through a delightful romp through cognition, neuro-chemistry, and neuro-anatomy, as well as the adventures of some intrepid researchers in search of answers to these very questions – how do our brains measure time? Is there a “time centre” somewhere in the cerebral cortex? How do our emotional states affect our perception of time passing?
Equally engrossing are the experiments on how we visualize time, our “mental calendar” as it were. It was surprising to know that even the direction of our script can influence how we see time moving in our mindscape. The answers are still elusive, but the clues are tantalizing!
The second part of the book is more pop-psychology and common sense than anything else. It was a fast read through how events around us and our interaction with them color our perception of how much time has elapsed. The last bits about how we can use this to our advantage are something you could skip with no material loss in knowledge gained. It’s Psych 101 at its most basic.
Taken all-in-all though, I would still recommend this book, both for its engaging and personal style of writing and for the questions it raises about human biology and time. Grab it, no curious mind would be disappointed. 🙂