So, I’ve been putting together some introductory thoughts in preparation for blogging through the new book on the philosophy of physics and time “Out of Time (2022).” Helpfully, one of the authors did a short article teasing the book here: https://theconversation.com/time-might-not-exist-according-to-physicists-and-philosophers-but-thats-okay-181268
Here are some highlights from the article to whet your appetite:
- In the 1980s and 1990s, many physicists became dissatisfied with string theory and came up with a range of new mathematical approaches to quantum gravity.
- One of the most prominent of these is loop quantum gravity, which proposes that the fabric of space and time is made of a network of extremely small discrete chunks, or “loops”.
- One of the remarkable aspects of loop quantum gravity is that it appears to eliminate time entirely.
- Loop quantum gravity is not alone in abolishing time: a number of other approaches also seem to remove time as a fundamental aspect of reality.
- We say that tables, for example, “emerge” from an underlying physics of particles whizzing around the universe.
- But while we have a pretty good sense of how a table might be made out of fundamental particles, we have no idea how time might be “made out of” something more fundamental.
- So unless we can come up with a good account of how time emerges, it is not clear we can simply assume time exists.
- Time might not exist at any level.
- While physics might eliminate time, it seems to leave causation intact: the sense in which one thing can bring about another.
- Perhaps what physics is telling us, then, is that causation and not time is the basic feature of our universe.
Are you excited? Of course you are. “I see you shiver in anticipation (Frank Furter, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show).” So, next time I will begin blogging about the book itself, and perhaps this will provide us some new lenses through which to assess the cosmological argument.