Musings on the Impossible 2: Time, Does It Really Exist?

In his book The End of Time (1999), British physicist Julian Barbour argues the case that time does not really exist, but is merely an illusion (an extremely persistent one, but nevertheless).


This goes right against our common sense notion that we experience time as something that is real. Keep in mind, though, that our common sense also goes right against many of the characteristics of quantum mechanics, but that all these counter-intuitive characteristics of quantum mechanics have been proven, time and again, to actually be true.


To get right to the bottom, I think we need to look at the most basic way in which we can define the laws of physics. The best handle for that is—so far, to the best of my knowledge—the Planck units. These are:


·      G = the gravitational constant;

·      ħ  = the reduced Planck constant;

·      c = the speed of light in a vacuum;

·      ke  or (4πƐ0 )-1 = the Coulomb constant;

·      kB = the Boltzmann constant;


(As Wikipedia notes, each of these constants can be associated with at least one fundamental theory. G with General Relaticity [and Newtonian gravity], ħ with quantum mechanics, c with electrostatics, ke with and kB with statistical mechanics [and thermodynamics].)

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