the Journey

  • Distance to go: 0 Mi

    Ben and Tarka will cover 1800 miles starting from Scott's Terra Nova Hut at the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back to the coast again. That's equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons hauling up to 200kg each (the weight of roughly two adult men) of kit and supplies necessary to survive.

    Distances here are shown in statute miles.

Temporal Perception (yes a post from Tarka!) Day 51

Day 51: S86° 28' 47.34", S159° 36' 53.58"

Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min

Daily distance: 17.6 Mi

Distance to go: 1147.6 Mi

Temperature: -21 °C

Wind chill: -37 °C

Altitude: 9331 Ft

Following some gentle persuasion from the team I have agreed to relinquish my tools for the evening and take up the Ultrabook. A while ago there was a fascinating question by one of the contributors regarding how we perceive time (I apologise, I can't remember who brought up the subject in question). Along with their question they presented an interesting theory regarding the relative passage of time through various stages in our lives. I would be interested to know if this was just a theory or if there is data to support it.

In any case it got me thinking and I would like to share my experiences and thoughts on the subject. Please note that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the following theory, it is purely my speculation on the subject (incidentally if anybody does have any scientific data to support or contradict the following I would love to hear about it). Furthermore I possess neither the literary nor the creative linguistic skills that Ben has, so please lower your expectations considerably in relation to Ben's usual exceptional standard.

The reason this topic fascinated me so much was that there seems to be a discrepancy between how I perceive time to be passing in the present in contrast to that of a more prolonged period. Put simply, each individual hour of each day seems to pass at the same rate as it did on day one. Some of these hours seem to pass in a heartbeat whilst others seem to drag on indefinitely. This perceived variation however, depends almost entirely on how well I can drift away following a specific train of thought. As a general rule however, there seems to be no variation in my perception of these as the trip has progressed. My perception of the trip's previous days and weeks however, seems to be accelerating exponentially as I look at them retrospectively. My theory as to why this might be the case resides in a video compression analogy.

Video compression is so elegantly simple in its complexity but the basic premise being to reduce the amount of space needed to store a video whilst discarding as little of the original quality and detail as possible. Much like a hard drive on a computer I suspect our brain has a number of limitations, including storage space and speed of retrieval. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of digital video compression algorithms but for this analogy, crudely speaking each 'video frame' is analysed and compared to the neighbouring frames. If a part (or parts) of the frames being compared are found to be the sufficiently similar then it makes no sense to store the same information for every frame when it never actually changes. Instead it makes more sense to store the information only once and subsequently reference it as needed.

If the brain works in a similar manner this could help explain the perceived time dilation I am experiencing. During a given day information is fed into my short-term memory instantly, given that we are generally very good at remembering events in our short-term memory it stands to reason that only very minimal compression occurs here so events (and time) are stored in 'real time'. When I go to sleep that night however, the day's events are passed to my mid-term memory. During this process the brain analyses the day's events, determines that almost the entire day was identical (which they are) so compresses all the days repetition down to just isolate any unique events. This subsequently means that when I wake up, the previous day seems to be much shorter as the monotonous repetition that constitutes almost all our days has been condensed to just a few frames. At some arbitrary point in time, this entire day is committed to my long-term memory and the same process is repeated. Only this time the previously compressed day is analysed in relation to the other compressed days surrounding it and in exactly the same manner, the days are found to be near identical. Subsequently so entire weeks are compressed giving rise to this time perception distortion that I am experiencing.

In other news, today was cold and we walked into the endless horizon... again.


# wonderwoman, December 15th 2013

Thank you, Tarka! It’s great you started writing! I have always know writing is difficult, but you must be one of the toughest gyus -  not everybody needs to ski hundreds of miles in the emptiness before they start putting some words on the paper :)  Seriously, you should go on. Following your thoughts is very interesting. We are grateful!

We send you love from Finland and pray for you.

# John, December 15th 2013

Hey Tarka, From what I have read and experienced it goes like this: You have three forms of time. You have present time, past time and future time.  If your attention is wholly in the present you could say you are in present time- and you will be very aware of what is going on around you from moment to moment. In your case as you have set yourself such a difficult task you will probably spend more time in the present than anywhere else. However if that present is very unpleasant naturally you will resist it, The goal of life is pleasure, pleasure is an attracting force but pain repels. This repulsion makes feel you’d rather be anywhere else than in the present so you dive into the past or the future or use your imagination to run away.  As a contrast to your situation older people tend to spend a lot of time in the past and so unlike you whom is filling every minute of the day with overcoming huge obstacles on a continuing basis they have very little challenge in their environment comparatively speaking so they spend much of the time talking and thinking about “the good old days” when things were happening in their lives . Now take a kid- he is very interested in his environment as for him it is so full of adventures so he is very much in present time and the day is long and much is done. Naturally time will seem to disappear if you are not there experiencing it! And that is what you hear the old people say. If you want more time create it! Get out and do things= fill your life with action and goals and life will be long and enjoyable.! Hats off to you guys you can’t live life more fuller of challenge than you two are!

# Richard Pierce, December 15th 2013

Good to hear you, Tarka. That time compression theory is fascinating, and not one I’ve heard before. The endless horizon remains the same, too, but I guess looking forward decompresses time and makes that seem endless, too.

Hope you both manage to get over 20 miles again soon.

Stay safe.


# Phil Satoor, December 15th 2013

Yes, you’re saying we have to forget to remember.  It sounds sensible to me.  I hope you’ll to do another post soon!

# Phil Satoor, December 15th 2013

I should have said “forget to be able to remember”.

# Jored, December 15th 2013

Thanks for writing and showing yourself. Your compression theory sounds very reasonable.
Follow your progress every day and wish both the success you so deserve.
It’s easy to pick up the iPad here in sunny Spain and feel a lot of respect for your courage and “Endurance”. As the Great Man’s motto goes : Fortitudine Vincimus. Through endurance we (you) conquer ......
Good luck and take good care.

# Graham, December 15th 2013

Hi Tarka, maybe your long term memory is based on the images you see. We recall things that happened a long time ago through memories of images don’t we? Your visual memory is passed onto your long term memory at night, like you said. During the day there isn’t much visual change and the only time we are feel time is passing quickly is when our minds dwell on internal thoughts. This then I guess is what meditation is…
Anyway, enjoy your meditations and thanks for sharing your amazing journey. I can’t be there myself but can have some experience from the comfort of my bed. :)

# Chris, December 15th 2013

Great to hear from you Tarka, and keep going guys - you have made superb progress and that position tracker shows it.  Well done!

# Mal Owen , December 15th 2013

Welcome Tarka, a pleasure to meet you at last,
Does this explain why,  as we get older,  the years seem to pass more quickly?  Our short term memory fails us….(I can’t tell you how many times I go upstairs for something , only to forget why I am there) so we increasingly have very little to add to the video frame.
I can’t believe how quickly Christmas has come round yet again and it seems that there’s never enough time in a day !
And please keep aiming for that endless horizon.

# Vimalatharmaiyah Gnanaruban, December 15th 2013

There is’t a better way to convey the monotony than to describe the entire day in a simple sentence, I loved it. After all Tarka is programmed to write as well.

Do you trim your facial hair, if so with what tool you are improvising? There is another theory being rumored in this circle that Tarka’s synthetic hair doesn’t grow.
(Reminds me of a supposed event happened to another pioneer, when Russian ladies tried to pluck Yuri Gagarin’s hair after he returned from outer space, in an attempt to test whether he met god, or something like that)
As we are approaching the southern solstice on 21st - Keep warm and carry on

# cifa, December 15th 2013

ah, tarka - nice to meet/see you. tbh, I was getting a bit fed up with Ben’s mugshot :) but you both look kinda similar ;)

cheers to you both!

# Paulius, December 15th 2013

Brilliant! The ending was very ellegant, bravo.

# Sue (and Noodle ), December 15th 2013

Great to see you. I was unsure you were there !!!!!! and what great writing. I of course dont understand any of it not being an academic. My only thoughts were that Ben’s beard seems to be growing faster than yours.. Be safe and lots of love. x

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