Timeless physics

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Timeless physics is an attempt to construct a useful formulation of physics that does not rely on a "t" term as fundamental, but rather has what we perceive as "time" emerge from the model.

Its main proponent is Julian Barbour, in his 1999 book The End Of Time.[1] Barbour says that time is only an illusion, and that problems arise from assuming that it does exist: "Change merely creates an illusion of time, with each individual moment existing in its own right, complete and whole." He notes that Einstein, in one of his last letters, writes: "People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubborn, persistent illusion."

The notion is very fringe, but is regarded by serious physicists (including such diverse people as Lee Smolin and Luboš Motl[2][3]) as "interesting" rather than "crank." Timelessness would obviously be more elegant, so the idea appeals to physicists. There just isn't much of practical use for it as yet.

LessWrong also endorses the idea and develops a few of its odder local ideas from it.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. Julian Barbour. The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195145925. First chapter.
  2. Timeless physics (Luboš Motl, The Reference Frame, 08 April 2006)
  3. Timeless physics 2009 (Luboš Motl, The Reference Frame, 20 June 2009)
  4. Timeless Physics (Eliezer Yudkowsky, LessWrong, 27 May 2008)