How physicists conceive time today and other

BIAL Foundation Symposium

image: 13th Symposium “Behind and Beyond the Brain”
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Credit: BIAL Foundation

Is it the case that “the distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion,” as Einstein famously declared? In the session on The Arrow of Time, on April 7th, experts on physics, cosmology, parapsychology, and history of ideas will discuss theory and data confronting this question.

Under the theme “The mystery of time”, the 13th Symposium of the BIAL Foundation gathers some of the most prominent scientists and philosophers to engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue around the many aspects of time.

The first session on The Arrow of Time will take place on the morning of April 7th having Etzel Cardeña (Lund, SE) as moderator. Orfeu Bertolami (Porto, PT), Jimena Canales (Urbana-Champaign, USA), Daniel Sheehan (San Diego, USA) and Patricia Cyrus (Orlando, USA) will explore how physicists conceive time today, and how their theories are shaped by what we know about the perception of time.

Are space and time distinct entities? Is our sense of time simply illusory as Einstein stated? Is the `arrow of time´ unidirectional? How can we explain precognition via retrocausation within the current paradigm of physics? These are some fundamental and yet unsolved questions to be addressed in the first session of the Symposium dedicated to the physics of time.

Jimena Canales sums it all up in one sentence: “while some scientists have tried to incorporate elements of our experience of time into our explanations of the universe, others continue to claim that our sense of time is simply illusory”. The Mexican American writer and historian of science will explore the origins of this persistent dilemma by focusing on the relation of physics to philosophy, history and the humanities.

The keynote lecturer Bernard Carr has also an interdisciplinary approach. For the emeritus professor of mathematics and astronomy at Queen Mary University of London the problem of time involves an overlap between physics, philosophy, psychology and neuroscience” and he emphasizes that “physics may need to expand to address issues usually regarded as being in the other domains”.

For his PhD, Bernard Carr studied the first second of the Universe, working under Stephen Hawking. In the 13th Symposium of the BIAL Foundation he will first review the mainstream physics view of time, as it arises in Newtonian theory, relativity theory and quantum theory. “I will then discuss the various arrows of time, the most fundamental of which is the passage of time associated with consciousness. I will argue that this goes beyond both relativity theory and quantum theory, so that one needs some new physical paradigm to accommodate it”, he states.

The Symposium “Behind and Beyond the Brain” will be held from April 6 to 9, 2022, at Casa do Médico, Porto, Portugal. The event will be organised in a hybrid format involving both in-person and virtual participants to be accessible to a wider audience. Registrations are open and available here.

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