Everyone knows what time is. We can practically feel it ticking away,
marching on in the same direction with horrifying regularity. Time has
enslaved the Western world and become our most precious commodity. Turn it
over to the physicists however, and it begins to
morph, twist and even crumble away. So what is
As part of our joint project with FQXi called Science fiction, science fact, we've been asking you what question on the frontiers of physics you'd like to have answered. The question that topped our first poll was 'What is time?'. We went to ask Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University and Director of BEYOND: Centre for Fundamental Concepts in Science and here is his answer.
Space is the stage on which physics happens. It's unaffected what happens it and it would still be there if everything in it disappeared. This is how we learn to think about space at school. But the idea is as novel as it is out-dated.
A team of physicists have curbed the hope that quantum physics might be squared with common sense. At least if we want to hang on to Einstein's highly respected theory of relativity. Their result concerns what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" and it may soon be possible to test their prediction in the lab.
The holy grail for 21st century physics is to produce a unified theory of everything that can describe the world at every level, from the tiniest particles to the largest galaxies. Currently the strongest contender for such a theory is something called M-theory. So what is this supposed mother of all theories all about?
With online socialising and alternative realities like Second Life it may seem as if reality has become a whole lot bigger over the last few years. In one branch of theoretical physics, though, things seem to be going the other way. String theorists have been developing the idea that the space and time we inhabit, including ourselves, might be nothing more than an illusion, a hologram
conjured up by a reality which lacks a crucial feature of the world as we perceive it: the third dimension. Plus talks to Juan Maldacena to find out more.