How to stop time

[While I'm away for a week, I'm posting classic Boing Boing entries from the archives. Here's a gem from 2006.]

I've been playing with this time-stopping test off and on all day, with surprising results. The page has a little analog clock with a sweeping second hand. If you follow the instructions by looking about 20 seconds ahead of the second hand, the second hand will appear to stop. I am almost certain it is some kind of optical illusion, but the time-stopping sensation sure feels real. Link

Reader comment:

The book Mind Hacks cites some hypothesis about visual and audio chronostasis: see hack #18 on page 52.

The book gives some scientific search references:

One in Nature: "Illusory perceptions of space and time preserve cross-saccadic |perceptual continuity," Kielan Yarrow, Patrick Haggard, Ron Heal, Peter Brown, John C. Rothwell

SUMMARY: When voluntary saccadic eye movements are made to a silently ticking clock, observers sometimes think that the second hand takes longer than normal to (…)

Nature 414, 302-305 (15 Nov 2001)

And some in Current Biology (full texts available) :

"Auditory Chronostasis: Hanging on the Telephone," Iona Hodinott-Hill, Kai V. Thilo, Alan Cowey, and Vincent Walsh

Current Biology, Vol 12, 1779-1781, 15 October 2002

"Manual Chronostasis: Tactile Perception Precedes Physical Contact," Kielan Yarrow and John C. Rothwell

Current Biology, 2003, 13:13:1134-1139

Current Biology points to a short summary about "Chronostatis" (click on "Article via ScienceDirect").