• Until now, I've been writing about "now" as if it were literally an instant of time, but of course human faculties are not infinitely precise. It is simplistic to suppose that physical events and mental events march along exactly in step, with the stream of "actual moments" in the outside world and the stream of conscious awareness of them perfectly synchronized. The cinema industry depends on the phenomenon that what seems to us a movie is really a succession of still pictures, running at twenty-five [sic] frames per second. We don't notice the joins. Evidently the "now" of our conscious awareness stretches over at least 1/25 of a second.In fact, psychologists are convinced it can last a lot longer than that. Take he familiar "tick-tock" of the clock. Well, the clock doesn't go "tick-tock" at all; it goes "tick-tick," every tick producing the same sound. It's just that our consciousness runs two successive ticks into a singe "tick-tock" experience—but only if the duration between ticks is less than about three seconds. A really bug pendulum clock just goes "tock . . . tock . . . tock," whereas a bedside clock chatters away: "ticktockticktock..." Two to three seconds seems to be the duration over which our minds integrate sense data into a unitary experience, a fact reflected in the structure of human music and poetry

    Paul Davies
  • Many investigators feel uneasy stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they admit they are baffled

    Paul Davies
  • Perhaps there are many "nows" of varying duration, depending on just what it is we are doing. We must face up to the fact that, at least in the case of humans, the subject experiencing subjective time is not a perfect, structureless observer, but a complex, multilayered, multifaceted psyche. Different levels of our consciousness may experience time in quite different ways. This is evidently the case in terms of response time. You have probably had the slightly unnerving experience of jumping at the sound of a telephone a moment or two before you actually hear it ring. The shrill noise induces a reflex response through the nervous system much faster than the time it takes to create the conscious experience of the sound.It is fashionable to attribute certain qualities, such as speech ability, to the left side of the brain, whereas others, such as musical appreciation, belong to processes occurring on the right side. But why should both hemispheres experience a common time? And why should the subconscious use the same mental clock as the conscious?

    Paul Davies
  • The living cell is the most complex system of its size known to mankind. Its host of specialized molecules, many found nowhere else but within living material, are themselves already enormously complex. They execute a dance of exquisite fidelity, orchestrated with breathtaking precision. Vastly more elaborate than the most complicated ballet, the dance of life encompasses countless molecular performers in synergetic coordination. Yet this is a dance with no sign of a choreographer. No intelligent supervisor, no mystic force, no conscious controlling agency swings the molecules into place at the right time, chooses the appropriate players, closes the links, uncouples the partners, moves them on. The dance of life is spontaneous, self-sustaining, and self-creating

    Paul Davies
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