How Fast the Twinkling of an Eye?
An inquiry into the nature of time and light
How long, exactly, is the twinkling of an eye?
The fundamentalist philosopher Jack Van Impe has defined the twinkling of an eye as "eleven one-hundredths of a second." We would like to hear from anyone who has verified this number experimentally.
Previous Twinkly Findings
The Van Impe finding appears to conflict with the values reported by Hakkanen, Summala, et al. in their landmark paper:
"Blink duration as an indicator of driver sleepiness in professional bus drivers," H. Hakkanen, H. Summala, et al., Sleep, vol. 22, no. 6, September 1999, pp. 798-802.
Hakkanen, Summala, et al. found a typical 8.23 millisecond blink duration in sleepy bus drivers, and a typical 5.19 millisecond blink duration in non-sleepy non-bus drivers.
Van Impe and Hakkannen's results appear to disagree by an order of magnitude. The findings reported by Khan, Gailloud, et al., in their paper:
"Twinkling artifact on intracerebral color Doppler sonography," H.G. Khan, P. Gailloud, et al., American Journal of Neuroradiology, vol. 20, no. 2, February 1999, pp. 246-7
shed some light on -- but do not resolve -- the question.
We would be grateful to anyone who can clear up this mystery.
© Copyright 2000 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
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