Posted on July 27, 2007  Comments (3)

Newsflash: Time May Not Exist

Planck time—the smallest unit of time that has any physical meaning—is 10-43 second, less than a trillionth of a trillionth of an attosecond. Beyond that? Tempus incognito. At least for now. Efforts to understand time below the Planck scale have led to an exceedingly strange juncture in physics. The problem, in brief, is that time may not exist at the most fundamental level of physical reality.

Einstein’s theories also opened a rift in physics because the rules of general relativity (which describe gravity and the large-scale structure of the cosmos) seem incompatible with those of quantum physics (which govern the realm of the tiny). Some four decades ago, the renowned physicist John Wheeler, then at Princeton, and the late Bryce DeWitt, then at the University of North Carolina, developed an extraordinary equation that provides a possible framework for unifying relativity and quantum mechanics. But the Wheeler-­DeWitt equation has always been controversial, in part because it adds yet another, even more baffling twist to our understanding of time.

“One finds that time just disappears from the Wheeler-DeWitt equation,” says Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, France. “It is an issue that many theorists have puzzled about. It may be that the best way to think about quantum reality is to give up the notion of time—that the fundamental description of the universe must be timeless.”

Interesting. As usual, quantum actions seem bizarre. Related: Quantum Mechanics Made Relatively Simple PodcastsPhysicists Observe New Property of MatterParticles and WavesQuantum Theory Fails Reality ChecksPhysics Concepts in 60 Seconds

3 Responses to “Time”

  1. Markk
    July 27th, 2007 @ 9:18 am

    *head explodes*

    I’m not going to understand this no matter how hard I try.

    Time might not exist? Sheesh.

  2. My Opinions Are Important · Time does not exist
    July 28th, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

    […] The latest from the world of science: time might not exist. That is to say, time was maybe will be not existing. Or perhaps, time does not yet exist, but will in the future, unless it did in the past. Or both. Or neither. […]

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