"The Nature of Time"

Location: St Cross College

Date: Saturday 11 June 2016

Time: 10:30 - 17:00


The passage of time is a universal human experience. Time is central to our current scientific theories of the world, but it remains remarkably controversial. In physics, there is active debate as to whether time actually exists at all on a fundamental level or whether it is an emergent property of the macroscopic world in a manner similar to temperature. In philosophy, there is an equally lively debate as to whether the present is more significant than the past or future or whether all time is "equal". This conference seeks to explore these issues by addressing some perennial questions: whether time exists independently of the Universe (i.e. before the Big Bang), whether time travel is possible (as suggested by the solutions to Einstein's equations of General Relativity), why the irreversible Arrow of Time dominates the macroscopic world whilst being absent from the equations of the microscopic world, and what a clock actually is.

The programme for the day is below:

MORNING CHAIR: Dr Richard Staley (University of Cambridge)

10.30 am WELCOME

10.40 am Professor Harvey Brown (University of Oxford) - The Different Faces of Time in Physics [VIDEO]

11.30 am Dr Julian Barbour (University of Oxford) - What is a Clock?

12.20 pm Dr Natalja Deng (University of Cambridge) - Philosophical Questions about the Arrow of Time [VIDEO]


AFTERNOON CHAIR: Dr George Jaroszkiewicz (University of Nottingham)

2.15 pm Professor Elisa Paganini (University of Milan) - Was There Time before the Big Bang? - Philosophical Enquiries [VIDEO]

3.05 pm Professor Alan Heavens (Imperial College London) - Is Time Travel Possible? [VIDEO]


4.30 pm SUMMARY OF THE DAY'S PROCEEDINGS - Professor Subir Sarkar (University of Oxford) [VIDEO]