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Why Time Might Not Be an Illusion
Einstein’s relativity pushes physicists towards a picture of the universe as a block, in which the past, present, and future all exist on the same footing; but maybe that shift in thinking has gone too far.

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A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

March 20, 2018

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: There ain't nothing wrong with Time by Anders Bengtsson [refresh]
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Anders Bengtsson wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 10:52 GMT
Essay Abstract

I argue that it is probably a misdirected effort to try to abolish time from fundamental science. If it can be done at all, it is through introducing even more strange concepts. In particular there seems to be nothing in general relativity or quantum mechanics or a would-be fusion of these theoretical schemes that point towards a more fundamental theory without time. Instead it will be argued from quite simple ideas that time is indeed a fundamental concept in any sensible description of reality. Looked at clearly and without any attempts to make the simple obscure, ''There ain't nothing wrong with time''.

Author Bio

Anders Bengtsson is a theoretical physicist teaching at the Engineering School at the University of Borås, Sweden. He obtained his PhD from Chalmers University of Technology in 1984 where he studied at the Institute for Theoretical Physics. His research interests are focused on higher spin gauge field theory.

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Dr. E (The Real McCoy) wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 17:06 GMT
Hello Anders,

Loved your essay!

Love words such as this, "I argue that it is probably a misdirected effort to try to abolish time from fundamental science."

Indeed, at the heart of every measurement is change. Ergo, without change, there can be no measurement, and thus no physics--at least not physics based in experimental, physical reality--which seems to be the kind of...

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Keith Clemens wrote on Dec. 7, 2008 @ 06:03 GMT
In section 7 you write "It seems that time is present on all levels of the scale hierarchy." However a photon does not experience time. By using a relational model and reductionism you can achieve a more fundamental "timeless" theory. I go into the details in my submission.

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Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 9, 2008 @ 08:14 GMT
Dear Dr. Bengtsson,

You bring in interesting arguments for defending the time in Physics. I agree with you that we cannot reduce everything to more elementary concepts, and at least time seems to be elementary. I liked your example of repetitions and decisions. As a joke, we can reduce both repetitions and decisions to “GO TO” :) (time traveling in past, respectively in alternative futures). Congratulations for your well-written essay.

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica

Flowing with a Frozen River

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Anders wrote on Dec. 11, 2008 @ 21:37 GMT
Dear Keith,

Photons don't experience anything, but I understand what you mean, even though I don't agree. No massive system can achieve the speed of light, but however close you get, and granting that you are conscious, you will still experience time in your own inertial system.

Dear Cristi,

A GO TO statement is normally preceded by a condition determining where to go, so it is decision really.

Best regards


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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Dec. 15, 2008 @ 02:07 GMT
Your essay drew out some interesting points. I personally don't think that science can tell us much about the existential nature of geometric objects or categories. In the case of time what is more important is what useful insights and information can we learn from time, and its relation to the relative actions of direct observables. Time has a relationship to temperature and scaling, as I argue in #370.


Lawrence B. Crowell

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James Putnam wrote on Dec. 26, 2008 @ 20:58 GMT
Dear Anders K. H. Bengtsson,

Thank you for sharing this essay. I think that you think both clearly and analytically. I see so much analysis that amounts to cloaking names and concepts behind other theoretically invented names and concepts. These kind of disguising techniques do not appear to have fogged your vision. I am not assuming that you agree with my statements here. However, even if you do not, I really do appreciate you sharing your thoughts through your essay. You have won my restricted vote.

James Putnam

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soundcloud downloader wrote on Sep. 26, 2017 @ 15:39 GMT
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