Getting distracted is one of the things preventing Sprite (and me!) from getting organized!
Sprite was supposed to be using the using the new hourglass type egg timer to give herself four minutes to complete a particular homework task but I found her with her alarm clock, a stop watch and the egg timer turning it over and over . She was sitting with first one expression on her face, then another, changing her facial expression each time she turned the egg timer.
“What ARE you doing?” I asked.
“I don’t think I can use the egg timer to do homework because I don’t think it is accurate!” she said. “I’m trying to check whether four minutes on the egg timer is the same as four minutes on the clock and the stopwatch is. And then I have to keep on trying it because I don’t think the sand runs through at the same rate each time. Do you know why I think that?”
“Why do you think that?”
“Well because I wonder whether the grains of sand go through the middle in the same order each time and whether they approach the middle on the same angle and whether they would go faster if they approached on a different angle and if the size of the grains makes any difference in how fast they go (because what if a big one goes first and gets stuck and the others have to jump over it?)
“What experiment could you do to find out?” I asked
“Well I think you would have to film the sand grains under a powerful microscope and analyze the film frame by frame and measure it in microns and millisecs and I don’t think I can really do it with an alarm clock and a stopwatch!”
So I posed Sprite’s question to my friends on Twitter and very speedily received a reply from @ljconrad See http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/25194/
“And why were you putting on a different facial expression each time you turned the egg timer over?”
“Because I don’t think all seconds are the same lengths of time anyway! Time seems to go faster when you are happy and excited and slower when you are unhappy or bored. So I was trying to find out if that made a difference. But then it might not have worked; because even when I was pretending to be bored I really was interested to see whether it made a difference; so I wasn’t really bored and the grains of sand might know!”