Gina, Barbour and Vaughan on Time

Robert Owen (
Sun, 05 Dec 1999 19:08:58 -0500

                             THE END OF TIME
                        A Talk With Julian Barbour

                     Introduction by John Brockman

Julian Barbour, a theoretical physicist, has worked on foundational issues in physics for 35 years. He is responsible for a radical notion of "time capsules which explain how the powerful impression of the passage of time can arise in a timeless world".

In a profile in The Sunday Times (October, 1998), Steve Farrar wrote: "Barbour argues that we live in a universe which has neither past nor future. A strange new world in which we are alive and dead in the same instant. In this eternal present, our sense of the passage of time is nothing more than a giant cosmic illusion. Cosmologist Lee Smolin notes that Barbour has presented "the most interesting and provocative new idea about time to be proposed in many years. If true, it will change the way we see reality. Barbour is one of the few people who is truly both a scientist and a philosopher."

                               ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Interesting; perhaps some of you have also suspected that there is something seriously wrong with our concept of "Time", metrical or metaphysical. Reading Barbour's work, I was reminded again and again of a poem by Henry Vaughan [1622-1695]. I must quote it from memory, so forgive any literal errors:

                     I saw Eternity the other night,
              Like a great ring of pure and endless light
                        All calm as it were bright.
                      And round beneath it Time,
                          in hours, days, years,
                          Driven by the Spheres
                      Like a vast shadow moved,
                           In which the world
                     and all her train were hurled.

I wish to thank Gina "Nanogirl" Miller for bring Barbour's work to my attention.


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA