time is real


It is Smolin’s view that the best hope for a solution to the difficulties that face contemporary physics – for example, the difficulties in bringing gravity into line with the rest of the currently accepted picture of reality – lies in overturning this orthodoxy and reaffirming the view that most of us non-physicists have anyway, namely that “nothing we know or experience gets closer to the heart of nature than the reality of time”. In putting his case for it, Smolin says many things that are comprehensible and that, to me at least, seem both true and important. Among those things is the idea (that Smolin advances brilliantly and persuasively) that the reason physicists have come to reject the reality of time is that they have been bewitched by the beauty and success of the mathematical models they use into mistaking those models for reality. For timelessness, though not really a feature of our world, is a feature of mathematics. Two plus two equals four, but if we ask when or for how long the perplexing (though true) answer seems to be: “Well, always. It is an eternal truth. Time is irrelevant to it.” And thus we seem to be driven to accepting the thought that some truths, at least, are eternal. And, if we can have timeless truths in mathematics, why not in physics?

more from Ray Monk at The Guardian here.