Establishing the philosophy of cosmology

Rachel Thomas

The puzzle of time

Marianne Freiberger

The puzzle of time

Why does time only ever move in one direction? We talk to philosophers of physics Jeremy Butterfield and David Wallace, as well as the eminent Roger Penrose about the puzzle time poses to physicists and what it has to do with the Big Bang and the second law of thermodynamics.

clocks

What is time?

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Do infinities exist in nature?

Marianne Freiberger and Rachel Thomas

Do infinities exist in nature?

Is the Universe finite or infinite? Is there infinity inside a black hole? Is space infinitely divisible or is there a shortest length? We talk to philosophers and physicists to find out.

What would you see if you came to the edge of the Universe? It's hard to imagine so it's tempting to conclude that the Universe doesn't have an edge and therefore that it must be infinite. That's not a necessary conclusion however. There are things that are finite in extent but still don't have an edge, the prime example being the surface of a sphere. It's got a finite area but when you walk around on it you'll never fall over an edge.

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Are there parallel universes?

Marianne Freiberger

Are there parallel universes?

Are there parallel universes? Universes in which, rather than reading this article, you are still asleep; in which you are happier, unhappier, richer, poorer, or even dead? The answer is "possibly". It's a controversial claim but one that has won more and more followers over the last few decades.

In the latest poll of our Science fiction, science fact project you told us that you wanted to know if there are parallel universes. We went to speak to physicist Adrian Kent and philosopher of physics David Wallace to find out. Click here to see other articles exploring this question.

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The Higgs boson: a massive discovery

Rachel Thomas

The Higgs boson: a massive discovery

If it looks like the Higgs... and it smells like the Higgs... have we finally found it? Most physicists agree it's safe to say we've finally observed the elusive Higgs boson. And perhaps that is not all....

If it looks like the Higgs... and it smells like the Higgs... have we finally found it? "As a layman I would say we have it," said Rolf Heuer, Director General of CERN. "Do you agree?" he asked the audience at the historic seminar this morning announcing the latest results from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The rapturous applause can only mean one thing – yes, we have finally observed the Higgs boson.

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Does it pay to be nice? – the maths of altruism part i

Rachel Thomas

Does it pay to be nice? – the maths of altruism part i

Does it pay to be nice? Yes, it does. And we're not just talking about that warm fuzzy feeling inside, it pays in evolutionary terms of genetic success too. We talk to Martin Nowak about how the mathematics of evolution prove that being nice is unavoidable.

Does it pay to be nice? Yes, it does. And we're not just talking about that warm fuzzy feeling inside, it pays in evolutionary terms of genetic success too. In fact being nice is unavoidable; humans, or any population of interacting individuals (including animals, insects, cells and even molecules) will inevitably cooperate with each other.

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Does it pay to be nice? – the maths of altruism part ii

Rachel Thomas

Does it pay to be nice? – the maths of altruism part ii

It does pay to be nice if you repeatedly deal with the same person. Martin Nowak explains why cooperation also wins in matters of reputation, neighbourliness and family. But can evolutionary game theory save the world?

As we saw in the previous article, we can use evolutionary game theory to show that it does pay to be nice when you repeatedly deal with the same person. Martin Nowak, from the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University, explored many other types of games using this mathematics, and the evolution of cooperation seemed to be inevitable in all of them.

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The 2011 Plus advent calendar

What is time?

Marianne Freiberger

What is time?

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 time exactly?

In the latest poll of our Science fiction, science fact project you told us that you wanted to know what time is. Here is an answer, based on an interview with Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University and Director of BEYOND: Centre for Fundamental Concepts

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What is time: The podcast

What is time: The podcast

This podcast featuring Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University and Director of BEYOND: Centre for Fundamental Concepts in Science, explores this difficult question and accompanies our What is time article.

Paul Davies

Paul Davies

As part of our joint project with FQXi called Science fiction, science fact, we asked 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?'.

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