Saturday 30 July 2011


I have not had the motiviation to write too many science related posts recently. But maybe it is still ok if I post some arbitrary thoughts: It is interesting how much effort people spend only to wait longer.

Most prominently I notice that with flights: While I am enjoying the last minutes where I can sit comfortably and stretch my legs, I see how the queue in front of the gate is getting longer and longer. Apparently you are not going to get there faster if you board earlier. In typical airlines the seats are preassigned, which means that boarding earlier will not change anything. The only thing that changes is that you have more time waiting squeezed in the plane.

And leaving the plane is even worse: The seat belt sign is not even off when people get up, only to stand there bent over for the next 10 minutes. They are out of the plane a little bit earlier but what happens is that: we go into a last-in-first-out bus, which means that someone who just relaxed in their seat and let everyone else go first will be the first one in the airport. For some psychological reason it bothers me to see people do that and I feel like I should do that as well. But I should be happy that they let me get into the bus last ...

The other case is traffic lights. It is always striking me what kind of maneuvers car drivers tend to do only to get to a red light earlier, in order to wait there longer. On the one hand dangerous noisy lane merges on the large streets. And for me even worse is how car drivers sometimes pass bike riders right in front of red lights only to come to a full stop and cut off the bicyclist a few seconds later. And again this might even make you slower: if you are going slow enough that you do not have to stop at the red light, you will not only save gasoline. But it will be actually faster because you already have a non-zero speed at the time when the light is green which means that you have an advantage compared to someone who is standing there.

So either there is something really exciting about waiting that I have not understood yet. Or it is that our intuition sometimes gives us the wrong impulse in modern city life and we should spend more effort in active thinking.

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