Where Did Time Come From, and Why Does It Seem to Flow?

We say a river flows because it moves through space with respect to time. But time can’t move with respect to time—time is time.Image by violscraper / Flickr

Paul Davies has a lot on his mind—or perhaps more accurate to say in his mind. A physicist at Arizona State University, he does research on a wide range of topics, from the abstract fields of theoretical physics and cosmology to the more concrete realm of astrobiology, the study of life in places beyond Earth. Nautilus sat down for a chat with Davies, and the discussion naturally drifted to the subject of time, a long-standing research interest of his. Here is a partial transcript of the interview, edited lightly for length and clarity.

There might be some pre-geometry, that would give rise to geometry just like atoms give rise to the continuum of elastic bodies.

Is the flow of time real or an illusion?

The flow of time is an illusion, and I don’t know very many scientists and philosophers

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