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The Physics of Time

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 18 December 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the physics of time. When writing the Principia Mathematica, Isaac Newton declared his hand on most of the big questions in physics. He outlined the nature of space, explained the motions of the planets and conceived the operation of gravity. He also laid down the law on time declaring:

“Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external.”

For Newton time was absolute and set apart from the universe, but with the theories of Albert Einstein time became more complicated; it could be squeezed and distorted and was different in different places.

Time is integral to our experience of things but we find it very difficult to think about. It may not even exist and yet seems written into the existence of absolutely everything.

With Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science at the University of Surrey; Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University and Ian Stewart, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick.

  • Further Reading

    Julian Barbour, The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics (OUP USA, reprint 2001)

    Paul Davies, About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution (Penguin paperback, New Ed edition 2006)

    Paul Davies, How to Build a Time Machine (Penguin, New Ed edition 2002)

    J Richard Gott, Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe (Houghton Mifflin, paperback 2002)

    Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Bantam Press; 20th Anniversary Ed edition, 2008)

    Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch (Ebury Press, 2005)

    Jim Al-Khalili, Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines (Taylor & Francis, 1999)

    Kip Thorne, Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Papermac; New edition paperback 1995)

    G.J. Whitrow, What Is Time?: The Classic Account of the Nature of Time (OUP Oxford; New Ed edition, paperback 2003)

    Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield, The Arrow of Time: The Quest to Solve Science's Greatest Mysteries (Flamingo; New Ed edition, paperback 1991)

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