Relativistic Speed

Esen Küçüktütüncü
3 min readDec 1, 2020



I came across this video in twitter the other day (dating back to Febuary 14th, 2020). At first I only looked at it because I like trains. I assume that everybody likes them(The tweet it self was liked 68K as of December 1st 2020). The feeling of gliding through landscapes is among few moments of “god-like” behavior. But after a few seconds the video turned to something that I couldn’t stop watching. The main goal of the video is to demonstrate the difference in perceived speed. As your frame of reference narrows down, so does the speed you see. This can be discussed in the realm of physics, dynamics of movement and velocity and of course optics. The cinematography world took it by heart as a demonstration on how wide-angle lens is the best to emphasize speed. I myself have experience with that.

While shooting documentaries with cyclists, I would zoom into their feet pedaling, seeing how fast they are. But when I would sit down to edit I would realize that the impact I wanted to give was not there at all, instead all those lousy wide-shots I did with at least half of the effort on framing end up being the most dramatic, most arousing ones.

Apart from the technicality of this, the reason why I had to watch that video over and over again was to understand it’s implications on perceived lifespans. I sometimes do this thing where I try to create a bullet point summary of my life, with it’s milestone events. I know that I haven’t lived a long life, I try my best to take this task seriously but I find it funny when I can narrow it down to 10–15 major events.

Okay as of this moment, I am 24 years 7 months 9 days 17 hrs 14 mins 36 secs old. Which can also be expressed as 295 months or 1,284 weeks or 8,988 days. The clock is ticking. And apart from deadlines I feel like every day is quite long. I’m a hyperactive person so I always find ways to spend time, and not waking up later than 7am whether I like it or not helps with having more waking hours in my hand but still, they realization of effect this difference in scope happens has amazed me. Maybe more than it should have.

By now, I know that everyone has an elderly (in most times the grandparent) in the family who constantly says “lives runs through your hands like grains of sand” which is the closest metaphor to what I experience in the video. This can be generalized to

  • outer-body experiences (my wild dreams)
  • thought experiments of looking at the world from the space and see it spinning
  • Staring at the water boiler when you desperately need that tea.

This text was written in order to get over my writer’s block. I am perfectly aware that it cannot be counted as an essay.



Esen Küçüktütüncü

Researcher in affective computing, consciousness and the mind. Also happens to cycle, a lot.