VEDERE LA SCIENZA 2005

Potenza   10/5/2005 - 19/5/2005

Biblioteca provinciale e Aula Magna dell’Università della Basilicata - Matera
Aula Magna di Scienze del Campus di Macchia Romana dell’Università della Basilicata - Potenza

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Killing time



  1. Original Title: Killing time
  2. Director: Ijsbrand van Veelen
  3. Editor: J. P. Luisterberg
  4. Photography: Niel's van't Hoff
  5. Sound: Marc Witte
  6. Production: VPRO Television
  7. Netherlands
  8. 25 min.
  9. 2000

In the 11th book of his Confessions, St. Augustine asks himself: “But what is time? If you do not ask me, then of course we know perfectly well what time is. But if you ask me to tell you what time is, that I cannot say”. 1500 years later, Julian Barbour, a theoretical physicist, tries to solve once and for all one of the constant problems of both the philosophical and the scientific thought: the concept of “time”. “Time does not exist!” is the astonishing conclusion Barbour comes to in his book "The End of Time – The Next Revolution in Physics". In the VPRO documentary, the English scientist himself – born in 1937 - tries to explain his disconcerting theory with simple tricks such as Polaroid photographs and models of rope and triangles. Barbour quotes great physicists who gave an original contribution to the idea of time: Huygens, Newton, Mach, and Einstein, who, with his own theory of relativity, made Minkowski' s unification of space and time famous. In particular, denying the existence of time might be the best way to join together the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics - a goal contemporary theoretical physics is striving to achieve, for example through the theory of strings. Barbour drops the idea of a linear-progressive time in favour of a new one which can easily explain even the Big Bang. His timeless universe, called Platonia after Plato, is a world where everything is frozen. Everything exists at the same time in Platonia, which can therefore be regarded as a model for eternity. Should this insight turn out to be the right interpretation of the universe that surrounds us, then the whole of cosmology as well as quantum physics would have to be revised and corrected.

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