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An Exploration of Time


Speaker: Prof Jim Al-Khalili FInstP, University of Surrey

Questions about the nature of time are some of the most enduring. Yet despite our ever-deepening understanding of the physical universe, we have yet to reach a consensus on the nature of time: does it flow like a river, carrying us along, or does it flow past us? And why does it point towards the future and not to the past? We tend to make the mistake of thinking that we are always facing forward, looking to the future, when in fact we have our backs in the direction of travel, not seeing what lies ahead of us, instead watching the past recede into the distance. But is this arrow of time baked into the structure of the universe, or is that just a trick of our senses? 
 
So, what does our current understanding of the laws of physics and the nature of the universe tell us about these big questions on the nature and behaviour of time. For example, did time have a beginning and will it have an end? Can it be stretched and squeezed, or even reversed? Some of the answers I will share are widely accepted by scientists and philosophers, while others will elicit heated debate. The result will forever change the way you think about the passage of time and your place within it.