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Robert C Helling: on 12/1/08 at 11:18am UTC, wrote Essay Abstract Many complications encountered in discussions of...


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FQXi FORUM
October 21, 2018

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: ``What is (the) time?'' ``Get a clock, it will tell you!'' by Robert C Helling [refresh]
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Robert C Helling wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 11:18 GMT
Essay Abstract

Many complications encountered in discussions of time can be avoided using a purely operational definition of time in terms of clocks. This circumvents issues stemming from the gauge invariance of coordinate choices in diffeomorphism invariant theories like the vanishing of the Hamiltonian. Time itself as a local coordinate is unobservable but measurements of clocks evidently are. This, however, requires a definition of what kind of system constitutes a clock without reference to the concept of time. In this essay, we attempt such a definition and argue that the possibility of defining time consistently in terms of clocks in an unambiguous way independent of the physical materialisation of the clocks reveals a deep property of nature underlying the concept of time.

Author Bio

Robert Helling holds a PhD in theoretical physics. Besides his research mainly in the area of string theory he is the scientific manager of the Elite MSc program "Theoretical and Mathematical Physics" at Munich. His blog http://atdotde.blogspot.com often deals with questions in theoretical physics.

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