|NATO ADVANCED RESEARCH WORKSHOP|
|The Nature of Time: Geometry, Physics & Perception|
|May 21-24, 2002 / Tatranská Lomnica / Slovak Republic|
Astronomical Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Tatranská Lomnica, Slovak Republic
Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica - Sezione di Palermo, CNR, Palermo, Italy
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The correct quantitative elucidation and deep qualitative understanding of the internal structure of time represent, undoubtedly, a crucial stepping stone on our path towards unlocking the ultimate secrets of the very essence of our being. It is, therefore, not surprising that there have been numerous attempts, of varying degrees of mathematical rigour and a wide range of physical scrutiny, to address this issue. Yet, the subject still remains one of the toughest and most challenging problems faced by contemporary physics, and by other fields of human inquiry as well.
Recent research pertinent to the topic, confirmed by the results of the first workshop held in Palermo in 1999, seems to plainly indicate that real progress in this direction can be achieved if the issue is approached exploiting knowledge acquired in different and seemingly unrelated fields of science, integrated within the framework of physical and mathematical research.
Thus, the aim of the workshop is two-fold. On the one side, it is complex examination and a critical review of the state-of-the-art of the problem from the standpoint of the physicist, combined in an organic way with contributions from other relevant fields of science. On the other side, it is an in-depth evaluation of the most promising routes towards further insight into the problem.
There are at least three novel concepts of time that deserve particular attention. The first concept, based on algebraic geometry, treats the time dimension as a pencil of conics in a projective plane over an arbitrary ground field. This model, being characterized by a qualitative distinction between individual events (or groups thereof), has been found to reproduce remarkably well the observed arrow of time. The second one, motivated by quantum non-locality, regards (space)time as an abstract, denumerable set X of elements whose microscopic neighbourhoods are defined via the "skeletal" entourages of a uniformity generated by a discrete topological group over X. This pregeometric approach is believed to be intimately linked with the third concept of time, that of discrete time. There exists in fact strong suspicion within the scientific community that nature may behave discretely at the Planck scale (~10^-33 cm). Attempts, now at a high level of development, at constructing an exact, self-consistent discrete time mechanics, have already revealed a variety of novel phenomena such as modified propagators and vertices in quantum field theories, and new interesting objects in Dirac field theory called oscillons.
Last modified on January 31, 2002.