A most interesting audience gathered yesterday at the third and now traditional Café Scientifique at the Dark and Light Beer House, organized by the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC), the InformNauka agency and the Uspekhi Fiziki (Successes of Physics) Foundation, headed by Academician V.L. Ginzburg. Not only science journalists from the most varied publications and astrophysicists, but science-fiction writers, too came to the café. A make up of such an unusual order dictated the far from usual theme for the café: ‘Travel through space and time – a dream or reality?’ It arose because this year, 2005, is World Physics Year, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity. In this way the Café Scientifique has made its own modest contribution to the celebration of World Physics Year, which is underway all over the world.
Questions of time and space have occupied the minds of humans for many decades. It was interesting to hear the point of view on this problem both of specialists in astrophysics, quantum mechanics and cosmology, and science-fiction writers who are inspired by science to create works of literature.
Space and time. We are more or less clear on the first, but is it possible to give a precise definition of time? This question was put to the house by co-host of the Café, Liubov Strelnikova. It should be said that the question stumped those present, as no one actually put forward a precise definition. Those present believe that time relates to a number of undefined concepts. Anatoly Mikhailovich Cherepaschuk, Corresponding Member of RAS, Director of the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute defined time as a concept that arose together with matter at the moment when the Universe was born. Alexander Viktorovich Berkov from the Chair of Theoretical Atomic Physics of MEPhI reminded the audience that time is the fourth coordinate and that we live in a four-dimensional world. The humanitarian Alexei Ananchenko from the Ministry of Education and Science believes that time is an abstraction that characterizes the change in an object. And the writer Vadim Kirpichev believes categorically that space and time are nothing but attributes of our thought processes. Finally, many shared the viewpoint that it is impossible to give a precise definition of time; all the processes that are linked with it are too complex, including those in biological objects. So there is no definition but time exists and nothing stops us from discussing and writing about it.
Sergey Komarov | alfa
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