News

Understanding the Arrow of Time


12 November 2009

Internationally-renowned theoretical physicist and author, Professor Sean Carroll will present a lecture entitled "The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time" at the Eastern Avenue Auditorium at 6 pm on Monday November 16.

"Just like the space around us is a three-dimensional place through which we move, time is a single dimension that stretches from past to future with the difference that we necessarily move forward through time - there's no choice in the matter," notes Professor Carroll, who is also the co-founder of the popular science blog Cosmic Variance.
"And, like space, time is all around us, helping people shape what happens in our everyday lives, and its properties are intimately connected to the wider universe around us. It's deeply moving to appreciate that the irreversibility of the things that we do in our kitchens can be traced to conditions near the Big Bang."

"The past is different from the future. We see things happen consistently in one direction and not the other- you can turn an egg into an omelette but not an omelette back into an egg. This direction from past to future is consistent throughout the observable universe. Physicists think of it in terms of entropy- the disorderliness of the things around us, which relentlessly increases with time."

"This arrow of time is literally the foundation of our lives in the universe. We remember the past and not the future; we are born and then we die, never the other way around. Our feeling that the past is settled, but the future can be changed- the impression that we have free will- is all because of the arrow of time."
Within the field of theoretical physics, Professor Carroll's research ranges from cosmology to particle physics and general relativity and this year, he was awarded the Viktor Hamburger Outstanding Educator Award. His publications include the soon-to-be released title, From Here to Eternity: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, a book on cosmology and the arrow of time written for a non-specialist audience.

Professor Carroll is presenting the 2009 Templeton Lecture, jointly sponsored by the University of Sydney's Centre for the Human Aspects of Science and Technology (CHAST), The Centre for Time and the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science and supported by the Australian Institute for High Energy Physics (AUSHEP).

Event details:
Lecture: The CHAST 2009 Templeton lecture. Professor Sean Carroll - "The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time".
When: Monday November 16, 6 - 6:50pm lecture with discussion 6:50pm-7:30pm
Where: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, the University of Sydney
Admission: Free

Contact: Sarah Stock 0419 278 715

Or Professor Huw Price (02) 9351 4057 or huw@mail.usyd.edu.au