PORT MACQUARIE PHILOSOPHY FORUM
Sunday 19th September 2021
The topic: Concepts of Time through the Ages
"The philosophy of time and its flow (the "Arrow of Time") has been a focus of ongoing debate for millennia. In this talk I will discuss some of the physical phenomena that physicists and philosophers have used to improve our understanding of time and its arrow. I will take a historical view surveying some of the key changes in our understanding of time as our knowledge of the universe has improved over the centuries.
In the 1680's Isaac Newton set the foundations of classical mechanics based upon concepts of separate universal "absolute space" and "absolute time". Classical mechanics described a "clockwork universe" in which free will did not exist. In the 1870's Ludwig Boltzmann provided the first explanation for the direction of the arrow of time using the concept of increasing "entropy". In the 1900's Einstein's special relativity replaced classical mechanic's separate universal space and time with a personal "space-time" for each of us. The concepts of entropy and space-time will be explained and how they help with a philosophy of time.
In this talk I will discuss how gravity (black holes) can appear to stop time and can provide for time travel, how quantum physics also provides an alternate arrow of time and how the concept of time in quantum field theory results in particles moving backwards in time and different travellers observing different things in the same region of space. We will also see how the cosmological "arrow of time" appears to require the universe to be destined to become an ocean of black holes which then evaporate. Finally I will describe how our recent understanding of "chaos" has shown that those who believed classical mechanics gave us a clockwork universe were, in fact, wrong."
Dr Kerry Hinton received an Honours Bachelor of Engineering in 1978, an Honours Bachelor of Science in 1980 and Master of Science Degree in Mathematical Sciences in 1982, all from the University of Adelaide. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, U.K., in 1984. Dr. Hinton’s PhD thesis researched the concept of Quantum Field particles in space-times where General Relativistic effects are significant.
In 1984 he joined Telstra Research Laboratories (TRL), Victoria, Australia, where he used quantum physics to analyse study the behaviour of lasers used in communications systems. He also developed mathematical models for optical communications systems and networks.
In 2006, Dr. Hinton joined the Centre for Ultra Broadband Information Networks (Cubin), located at the University of Melbourne, Australia. In 2011 he joined the Centre for Energy Efficient Telecommunications (also at the University of Melbourne) researching the energy efficiency of the Internet, communications technologies and networks.
In 2013 Dr. Hinton took on the role of Director of the CEET and continued in that role until July 2016 when CEET closed. Dr. Hinton has authored over 130 papers all in peer reviewed journals and conferences. Dr. Hinton is now an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne and continues to undertake research in that capacity.
Over the years Dr. Hinton has maintained an interest in the philosophical foundations of quantum physics, quantum field theory and the use of mathematics to model the physical world.
He and his wife Annette have been living at Harrington on the Mid North Coast since Nov 2016.
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