The End of Time

06:02, originally uploaded by gherm.

A beautiful photo of the clock at the Gare de Lyon in Paris.

The title refers not to the Apocalypse but to a ‘popular science’ book I recently attempted to read (Julian Barbour, The End of Time). I have to admit I found it hard work and eventually put it down in favour of something else – but I still find the central premise an interesting one; explained below by an Amazon reviewer (Roz Kaveney):

The End of Time is a fascinating contribution to physics by a scholar and thinker who is taken seriously by physicists of the calibre of Wheeler and Smolin. But he has pursued a career outside the mainstream, living on a farm and refusing to get involved in traditional teaching and research. He argues that time is a purely local phenomenon, a way of seeing things, rather than something that actually meaningfully exists at the core of the Universe. This consists of a vast agglomeration of Nows, single moments whose relationship with each other is intimate, but not intrinsically one of causation…

…The many worlds hypothesis is also true and the worlds that derive from alternate possibility exist alongside each other moment-by-moment. Seeing things in this way solves the more recondite problems of quantum physics — Schrodinger’s Cat is both dead, and alive, and never in the box in the first place and at a time before the box was thought of, and long dead all in a set of Nows that sit alongside each other in the Platonic realm which is underlying reality. There are no paradoxes because Sequence is an illusion: this is philosophical physics for those of you who like to have your brains hurt.

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