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Why Humans Love Slow Motion

Slow motion video might be the closest thing we have to actual brain-hacking. Well, except drugs.

Posted on April 18, 2012, at 5:23 p.m. ET

I never don't watch slow-motion videos. Send me a video of a dog running in slow motion and I'll stare at it like it contains all the mysteries of the cosmos. Send me a video of a grown man shaving his back in slow motion and I'd watch it like it's Citizen Kane. I am a slave to slo-mo. We all are! You're kidding yourself if you think you're not going to watch all of this new video from the Danish TV show Dumt & Farligt. It's got every slow, destructive thing you've ever wanted to see and about 30 more.

View this video on YouTube


So, why is slo-mo so intoxicating? Neuroscientist David Eagleman offers three reasons, based in science. I'm offering a few more, based on videos I saw on YouTube.

1. It's how we see the world when we're high on adrenaline

View this video on YouTube

Says Eagleman:

To the best that we were able to address this, our studies suggested that the impression of slowed time is a trick of memory: denser memories are laid down during salient events, yielding more than the normal amount of detail when read back out.

Slow-motion videos let us experience the heightened awareness of a scene in the comfort of an office chair or movie seat, rather than under actual, real duress. Slow motion is an easy shortcut to one of the oddest quirks of human consciousness.

2. It lets us see the invisible

View this video on YouTube

Eagleman calls it the "unmasking of hidden data," which is a calmer way of saying it gives you superpowers.

This one is especially important because it appears to be unique. Seeing something timelapsed gives you a new perspective but it doesn't really reveal new information; seeing an image with infinite focus provides another neat sensation but doesn't show you anything you couldn't already see with your eyes if you look around for a few seconds. But there is no way that you, a human being, could know what a bullet looks like as it slams into a wall. A better being with a better eyes and a better brain might be able to, and slow motion video makes you into that being.

3. It "violates expectations"

View this video on YouTube

People are good at intuiting physics, says Eagleman, and slow motion defies physics. You can reason that this slow motion video of sports doesn't destroy the physics model that the world around you has always adhered to, but it still feels like everything you know about motion and gravity is being violated again and again and again. Quite a sensation! This is how Einstein must have felt when he finally nailed the Theory of Relativity.

4. It makes everything unspeakably sad

Why won't her violin tune? What's so sad about that sheet music? Why is he lighting that candle? This is literally just a video of a bunch of people sitting around in a church and it makes me want to cry.

5. It can make anything seem like the most important thing in the world

View this video on YouTube

Try not to fist-pump when that dog catches the kibble in the air.

6. Because cute

View this video on YouTube

This is the real answer, sorry for dragging you through all that other stuff.

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