warning ! layman's question

ajpf at vaxc.cc.monash.edu.au ajpf at vaxc.cc.monash.edu.au
Sat Jan 21 20:41:38 EST 1995

To my mind, time is simply a construct which our perceptual apparatus
utilises to make sense of the world.  This we produce effects from causes
when in fact the two things happen simultaneously.

It follows, then, that time is a biological construction of some sort.
It is well known that the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus
is a biological timepiece or 'pacemaker' in mammals.  Research is
currently under way to determine whether it is involved in time 'perception'
as well as being the regulator of our daily circadian rhythms.  It would
be a reasonable candidate methinks - certainly for the purposes of
writing a sci-fi novel.  The sorts of drugs which we know to affect the
SCN-based clock in mammals are melatonin (from the pineal), heavy water,
benzodiazepines, and some amphetamines (methamphetamine).  These 
agents either change the phase or period of SCN-based clocks - so in effect
they either change the subjective time of the animal, or they change the
length of the subjective day.  It would be a bit hard to demonstrate 
a phase-shift of two years (as you propose), but if you buried someone
in purified melatonin for 2 weeks it might work.

Good luck with the book !

RMIT, Victoria, Australia

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