Does Time Exist?

By Sean Carroll | October 25, 2011 8:51 am

Videos from our Setting Time Aright conference are gradually filtering online, courtesy of the Foundational Questions Institute. Perhaps the very first question that should be asked, of course, is whether the subject of the conference actually exists. So we recruited two well-known partisans on this issue to hash things out. Tim Maudlin is a philosopher of science who has argued forcefully that time is real — and furthermore that the arrow of time is an intrinsic part of reality, not just a byproduct of the low-entropy Big Bang. (Crazy talk.) Julian Barbour is a physicist who is well known for arguing that time doesn’t really exist, we can happily eliminate it from all of our equations of physics. (Even crazier.)

So we asked them to go at it, with a twist: here Tim defends the proposition that time doesn’t exist, while Julian argues that it is real. I was not the only one to conclude that these guys were just as good at arguing this side as the one they actually believed.

Well worth watching — both talks are quite brilliant, in very different ways.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Philosophy, Science, Time, Top Posts
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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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