Stuff happens

Our digital lives rely on distributed computer systems, such as the network of banks that allow us to deposit cash in one place and withdraw it in another. But understanding the order of events in such systems is not always straightforward.

We all know what we mean when we say that something has happened — well, all except for theoretical physicists. That's because the notion of a "happening" becomes fuzzy when you go down to the foundations of the science. Find out more with these articles and videos.

With all the trouble caused by quantum mechanics and people's attempt to construct a theory of everything, we might be better off defining an event without reference to time and space. It's easier than you might think!

The strange theory of quantum mechanics has turned our conception of reality on its head. This article explores how things become fuzzy in the microscopic world and what this means for our understanding of events.

Time and space form the stage on which events unfold. But what if the stage itself becomes part of the action? We take a brief tour through the history of space and time and see how ideas have changed since the time of Isaac Newton.

Has the future already already been written? Is time just an illusion? Take a step outside of spacetime with cosmologist Marina Cortês to discover the block universe.

Fundamental physics says time is symmetric - so why does time move forwards for us in a block universe?

Is time real? Are we just puppets living out a future already written? Marina Cortês explains why she thinks time is fundamental and that we don't live in a block universe.

Marina Cortês is one of a growing number of physicists who believe time is fundamental. We ask her about the alternatives theories to the block universe, where time comes first.

Physics tells us that we live in a block universe, containing all of the past and all of the future. What does this perspective mean for our understanding of time, events, and free will?