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From quantum, through the big bang, to infinity -- how to explain time? One physicist gives it a shot

April 10th, 2015
As Augustine of Hippo, expressed in the 4th century: What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not. Explaining time can be an onerous task, and, albeit fascinating, it is elusive. In particular, any attempt to define it inherently proves futile as it invariably involves time itself, leading to circular definitions.

H. Chris Ransford, the author of 'The Far Horizons of Time' just published by De Gruyter Open, takes up the challenge, trying to unmask this abiding conundrum - and explores time within the context of the apparent contradictions that seem to bedevil all attempts to come up with a coherent picture of time definition. His main contention is that the deeper role of mathematics in the way it is applied to, and reflects, real-world reality, must be resolved first.

Assuming no prior, specialist knowledge by the reader, the book raises specific, hitherto overlooked questions about how time works, such as how and why anyone can be made to be, at a given instant, simultaneous with events that are actually days apart. It examines also the critical issues in the physics of time or at its periphery, which still elude full explanation, such as delayed choice experiments, the brain's perception of time during saccadic masking, and more. The author suggests that these phenomena can only exist because they ultimately obey applicable mathematics, thereby agreeing with an increasingly common view that the universe and everything within it, including the mind, is ultimately mathematical structure.

"This pretty book attempts to relate two of the greatest mysteries of Science, the nature of time and the human brain." Says Christian Corday from Department of Physics at Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e Ricerca "Santa Rita" in Italy. In addition, the author discusses some fields of enquiry that can have been overlooked by previous authors. In order to achieve his ambitious result, the author reviews and discusses at a popularizing level various interesting issues of mathematics, physics and cosmology, like infinity and infinities, quantum mechanics, wave functions, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Gödel universes, big bang, bubbles of time, black holes, and other.

The book is available to read, download and share fully in open access on De Gruyter Online.

Provided by De Gruyter Open

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