What is time? Is our perception of time passing an illusion which hides a deeper, timeless reality? Or is it real, indeed, the most real aspect of our experience of the world? Einstein said that, “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion," and many contemporary theorists agree that time emerges from a more fundamental timeless quantum universe. But in recent cosmological speculation, this timeless picture of nature seems to have reached a dead end, populated by infinite numbers of imagined unobservable universes.
In this talk, Lee Smolin explains why he changed his mind about the nature of time and has embraced the view that time is real and everything else, including the laws of nature, evolves. In a world in which time is real, the future is open and there is an essential role for human agency and imagination in envisioning and shaping a good future.
LEE SMOLIN was born in New York City in 1955 and raised there and in Cincinnati. After leaving high school early, he attended Hampshire College and the University of Cincinnati, graduating from Hampshire in 1975 with a degree in Physics and Philosophy. He attended Harvard University for graduate school receiving a Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1979. He held postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, The Institute for Theoretical Physics (now KITP) in Santa Barbara and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago. This was followed by faculty positions at Yale, Syracuse and Penn State Universities, where he helped to found the Center for Gravitational Physics and Geometry. He also held visiting positions at various times at Cambridge and Oxford Universities and at SISSA and the Universities of Rome and Trento in Italy. He was a Visiting Professor at Imperial College from 1999 to 2001. In September of 2001 he moved to Canada to be a founding member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where he has been ever since.