How to Freeze Time in Real Life (With Clocks) — Saccadic Masking

This girl knows how to stop time with just her eyes.

Want to show your friends that you know how to freeze time in real life and have a spare clock around? It’s easy if you follow this advice.


Wizards. Magic spells. Incantations. There are just some cool things that we all want to do in life. Whether you’re a fan of Adam Sandler’s Click or just have an active imagination, the thought of being able to stop time is pretty high on the list of special abilities for most people.


Aside from deep freezing things to zero degrees Kelvin, it doesn’t seem like modern science would know how to freeze time in real life.


But what if there was a little trick that you could pull — using a sweet clock — that could defy your, and your friends’, perception of time for just a little bit? Well, that’d be pretty great… and possible!


Materials Needed to Freeze Time

This time-freezing trick isn’t as difficult as you might think. It only takes a clock, if you can find the right kind. The requirements aren’t overly complex; either an analog clock or a digital clock will work, provided they fulfill certain conditions.


For analog clocks to work, they must include a seconds hand. As discussed during our examination of a clock’s face components, the seconds hand can either tick or sweep. For this particular trick, a ticking seconds hand is necessary.


Digital clocks will also need to show seconds. Preferably, milliseconds would not be shown, to create the maximum possibility of success.


For both styles of clock, short bursts of discrete state changes — that is, the changing from one image to another directly, without transitions — are required. As we’ll soon see, this is key to creating the illusion of frozen time.


How to Freeze Time in Real Life

This man knows how to freeze time in real life. (from: Pexels, Oladimeji Ajegbile)

Have the right clock on hand? Position it to where you can see the seconds hand or seconds counter easily. It shouldn’t be blurry, too close to see the full thing, or too far away to notice the time changes.


Watch the clock carefully to make sure you can see the discrete state changes of the seconds. 01, 02, 03… the changes should be easy to see. If using an analog clock, make sure you can see the hand start and stop quickly. Swift ticks are best.


Now, look away from the clock. Your nose should point slightly away from it. Suddenly snap your eyes to the seconds display on the clock. Most of the action should come from a quick snap of the eyes, not the movement of the head. Slow, dragging motions of the eyes don’t work, either.


Did time just stop for you?


There’s a non-zero chance you just experienced one of the weirdest phenomena known in the world of clocks. The second you looked over at didn’t move for a bit and then the passage of time restarted, the seconds quickly ticking by just like before. But, for just a split second, you figured out how to freeze time in real life.


But what if it didn’t work? Don’t fret, try again! Getting this trick to work is all in the eye snapping technique and also a touch of luck. If your eye snaps onto the clock at the wrong time you’ll miss it. Personal experience shows that this trick can work at least a couple of times in a session of trying before you’ll need to rest and try again.


So, what just happened? Saccadic Masking of the Eyes

If you’re a bit creeped out, or ready to use your newfound powers to grab some extra time on your next exam, hold on a second. Unfortunately, you haven’t figured out how to freeze time in real life, not really. This is just a trick of the eyes.


What you just experienced is a manipulation of something called saccadic masking.


When your eyes move, it feels like gliding but your sensory input doesn’t take it in that way. Try moving your eyes, or even your eyes and head, in a smooth way around your room or environment, from left to right. If you pay attention you’ll notice a janky movement and soft stops all across the movement.


If you haven’t noticed this before in your life, welcome to the new reality of how your eyes work. They move and stop, move and stop. These movements, called saccades, are how your brain avoids motion blur and sensory overload from the outside world.


After the eyes stop moving, there is a brief period where the eyes don’t take in new sensory information before things start working again as normal. This is why the trick sometimes doesn’t work if you move your eyes over immediately after the new second has started; your saccade time stop is over by the time the next second begins.


How to Freeze Time in Real Life — FAQ

If this wasn’t the answer you were looking for and you wanted to learn how to freeze time in real life with actual science, you aren’t alone. While this is a neat trick with the eyes, it doesn’t actually stop time.


As a result, you may be left with more questions than answers.


Is there a way to freeze time?

There is no way to freeze time and experience it. Hypothetically, at zero degrees Kelvin (a unit of temperature like Fahrenheit and Celcius) atoms stop moving. When atoms stop moving, time may as well have frozen. Unfortunately, you would die before you could experience an environment at such low temperatures.


What happens if you freeze time?

If you freeze time, nothing moves, including you or the neurons in your brain. Theoretically speaking, time could stop periodically on a universal scale and it would be entirely unnoticeable.


How do I stop time right now?

You cannot stop time right now. By playing mind and eye tricks, as outlined above, you can simulate a short time stop, but that is all. Unfortunately, we must all face the specter of time, which marches forward whether we like it or not.


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