Morbid Curiosity

When you’re a kid, those forty-five minutes of playtime before dinner feels like 15 years. Similarly, the 15 years between 30 and 45 feel like forty-five minutes.

It seems somewhat intuitive that since we have less experiences as youth that maybe time feels slower, decades later the information isn’t as new and exciting so perhaps life feels faster.

Jesse took this concept one step further. Assuming a 100 year life, he drew a curve 1/X where X is number of years old. While nothing fancy, the graph can be integrated to show the percentage of your life your next year is. For example, at birth 100% of your experiences are new, fresh data. Year two, the newness has a potency of 50%. By year fifty, your new experiences are dwarfed by the previous 49 and your life experiences account for only 2% of your knowledge base.

Jesse integrated under the curve for blocks of time representing 25 years. Here are his results! (click on the graph for full size)


How curiously depressing!

3 thoughts on “Morbid Curiosity

  • 12/5/2009 at 9:49 pm

    At least you saved this study for the 2nd quarter. Just imagine if you’d already burned this idea several years ago.

  • 12/6/2009 at 1:04 am

    i dont find this graph depressing at all. Who can recall anything that happened to them during the first year? If you can great, but for the majority of us I would think not. Now, if you cant recall your first year of life, can you really call it an “experience”? I guess this is a very similar discussion about a noise falling in a tree.
    Also new experiences are not always good experiences and not all repetitive ones are negative. Work yes while it does get repetetive, there must be perks to it. I’m sure going to China will never get old for you Mike, just like teaching are co-ops the same test every six months is rewarding once they get the science. Becoming a parent is great and exciting once its new and fresh, but I bet I could ask your parents how boring raising you was/is. I think you should rethink your morbidly depressing comment and look at all the ways the repetitive and unique experiences really effect your life. Just my 75 cents.

  • 12/8/2009 at 2:11 pm

    This isn’t quite what I meant. The graph is intended to look at perception of time as a function of years lived, saying nothing of the quality of experiences.

    You might live the same amount of days between age 28 and 29 as you did between 13 and 14, but perhaps it’s perceived as having gone by much more quickly.

    I find the chart to be a bit sad because I think it highlights how short life is by years and how much shorter it might be when perceived with age.


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