Matters of Scale - Reaction Times

Elapsed time between stimulus and involuntary human response (e.g., blink)
220 milliseconds

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Between stimulus and voluntary response (e.g., braking to avoid obstacle)
384 milliseconds

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Between emergency 911 call and arrival of fire department (Seattle, 2005)
4 minutes, 14 seconds

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Between Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and President Franklin Roosevelt's
declaration of war 22 hours, 37 minutes

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Between the conception and birth of a human being
266 days

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Between the reporting of the Antarctic ozone hole and the effective date of the Montreal Protocol
3 years, 7 months, 16 days

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Between the Einstein/Szilard letter to Roosevelt warning of Nazi atomic weapon research and the first atomic blast ("Trinity" test) in New Mexico
5 years, 11 months, 14 days

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Between President John F. Kennedy's speech calling for the United States to go to the moon and the Apollo 11 landing
8 years, 1 month, 27 days

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Between NASA scientist James Hansen's August 1988 U.S. Senate testimony on the reality of global warming and a substantive U.S. federal response
17 years, 10 months +

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Sources: Individual times: Robert J. Kosinski, Clemson University. Fire response: City of Seattle government. Roosevelt speech: History and Politics Out Loud (www.hpol.org/fdr/war). Human gestation: Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence. Einstein/Trinity: American Institute of Physics (www.aip.org/history/einstein), Wikipedia. Kennedy speech/Apollo 11: Wikipedia. Hansen testimony: J.N. Wilford, New York Times, August 23, 1988.