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One well-known and oft-cited trope is that of life imitating art. Hollywood (and other movie studios) have provided countless films in which slow motion is used to emphasize or provide clarity to a scene.

Suppose life really did start imitating art. Specifically, accidents and dramatic moments, such as two cars careening towards each other, moments of intense drama, or a man falling from a height, occurred in slow motion (1/1000th time), but only those people/objects involved in the event actually experience the slow motion. Anyone and everyone else experiences time normally.

Slow motion events can be interacted with by anyone not initially involved in the event. However, the people/objects involved at the outset of the event continue to move in slow motion until the event's completion, regardless of what happens to them. For example, during a car crash, a passerby runs to the driver's side of one vehicle, wrenches the door open, and pulls the driver to safety; the driver, however, isn't aware of being removed from the vehicle until the vehicles stop moving and all debris has settled (the event's conclusion), at which time he remembers being pulled from the car.

What would be the immediate (first week) reaction and long-term consequences if dramatic moments began moving in slow motion tomorrow (spontaneously)?

Answers should address societal and cultural aspects first and foremost, but may provide a look at political, economical, religious, or other aspects at the author's whim.


To help get an understanding of how the dilation works, see this video and treat Quicksilver as an observer and everyone else as initial participants.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jan 21 '16 at 2:45
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Who needs flash bangs? So there is a dramatic moment a gun fight, and slow mo kicks in doing bullet time for the participants. But an observer doesn't have to move at slow motion while the initial combatants have to stay in slow mo till the moment ends, this traps the participants and makes them sitting slow-mo ducks for everyone else.

It would be a combat technique to send one solider in to a room first firing away to trap your opponents and himself in bullet time slow-motion. Then his allies rush the room and kill all the enemies before they get of slow mo and can react.

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    $\begingroup$ Except, only those individuals who think such an assault was dramatic would be caught in slow motion. If the soldier ran in thinking it was dramatic, the opposition would shoot him while he was in slow motion and they weren't. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 21 '16 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre That is why the troops have to bring giant speakers blaring metal music synchronized to their attack so everyone in the area will think the assault is dramatic. They would have to have earplugs and special training to view every part of combat as boring and drab. $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Jan 21 '16 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ So... Giving away the fact that you're attacking, compromising your ability to communicate, revealing your position to enemy reinforcement, and annoying the opposition (no guarantee metal music will be construed as such) is dramatic? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 21 '16 at 1:25
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If I'm understanding the question, you're looking for a point where the normal perceptive time-dialation effect is not only experienced by people at the center of it but also all people in the immediate area. For lack of better explanation, I'm guessing this is some sort of 'hive mind' awakening.

The initial feeling would be a combination of disbelief, concern, panic, people looking for the cause of it. There would be a trickle-up effect similar to the beginnings of Torchwood: Miracle Day or Children of Men.

Once this is awakened in the general populace and become normalized, you'll see certain things rising. There will be people who are thrillseekers, trying to trigger the dilation effect as often as possible. Others will seek out situations to avoid it. Due to various brain chemistries, there may be people who can trigger the dilation through focus and/or meditation, or people that better/worse at experiencing or otherwise reacting to the dilation. Overall, people will have slightly better reaction times - while they aren't physically able to move faster, the time dilation would allow them to plan and move their body more finely with the time that they do have.

As for impact, there really won't be a major overhaul without other factors. There may be a sharp decline of certain types of accidents, but not on others - for example, it'd be easier to grab people stepping in front of buses, but have no (or even a negative) impact to the elderly falling down in their homes. If you were adding some sort of supernatural element to the world, where there are fairies/angels/demons/spirits that exist that are normally too fast to see, that could definitely impact religions, but that won't move the needle on most, save using it to increase productivity in meditation & prayer. You could definitely see research from scientists to try to exploit the time dilation, as you could effectively replicate "flow state" if used properly, which could have application everywhere from the schoolhouse to corporate to factories to the battlefield.

Magicians would have a harder time practicing their craft, while surgeons would probably find it easier. Police and soldiers would trigger the dilation frequently, giving them more time to assess the situations that would have turned deadly without that added focus. There may be a portion of the population that has adverse reactions to the dilation - the added perception of time may exhaust people, mentally or physically, over multiple exposures. PTSD and similar syndromes would be more severe, as the event that triggers the disorder, the initial traumatic stress, would feel like it lasted even longer. I'm sure there are some other impacts to society, but the overall change would not be as large as one may think.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hm. Apparent misinterpretation. All people involved in the dilation are similarly affected. If an event would take 1 second to complete, the people involved would perceive it as occurring over the course of 1 second while observers would perceive it as occurring over the course of 1000 seconds. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 20 '16 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ No, that's exactly what I'm referring to. There may be some variation in brain chemistry, as I noted, but movement speed would not increase. The person stepping in front of the bus won't have time to stop and about face, nor the driver the time to stop, but anyone behind the walker, with arm already extended, would be able to react faster. Similarly, adding dilation to a firefight would increase focus and reaction time to all parties involved, directly or indirectly $\endgroup$ – Vogie Jan 20 '16 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ Movement speed isn't increased, yes, but neither is the ability of those involved to perceive what's happening. They cannot even be aware they are experiencing the dilated time because that can only be observed from a different frame of reference. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 20 '16 at 19:14

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