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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation
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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation
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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American

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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
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The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
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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
January 19, 2021

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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