What’s the role of time in current Physics? By Manuel Lozano Leyva

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Time has always been a parameter in Physics. Physics, in general, is the description of material systems in space and time. In Newton and also in Aristotle, who’s the first to call for our attention on space and time as the sight for natural phenomena. What Einstein’s Special Relativity does is considering time as just another dimension. Until then, we had three space dimensions and a temporal one: what Einstein did was placing them in the same footing. And in his General Relativity what he does is give them some majestic properties, relating the content of space-time with its geometry. Space time has properties which only depend on its content: the matter of galaxies and stars, etc. And that, the geometrical explanation of the Universe, is what we call General Relativity. We can do that with only four dimensions. If we want to unify the microcosm, they jump to eleven. Since the beginning, Mathematics and Physics students have used that as an exercise: we can put the number of dimensions we feel like in problems. But one thing is working with dimensions as some abstract entity and a very different one is to seriously consider them as real. Many things I compare that to a river: the river flows in a certain way and always in the same direction, which is what happens with time. But then there’s a series of movements, those of the water molecules and atoms which, indeed, follow the river’s movement, but the set of internal movements of those atoms and molecules has nothing to do with the general movement of the river. When we talk about eleven dimensions, about dual spaces or M theories it’s like when we’re talking abut those intimacies at a much smaller scale than the flow of this the spacial and temporal current. That is unconfirmed.

What is the effect of preserving the status of time in General Relativity on Quantum Theories?

It raises the number of dimensions from four to eleven. And exploring that requires an energy we cannot reach. For now. The effort we’re making now is to try to find some consequences of these theories we can actually check. But, for now, we’ve got nothing. We’re hopeful, though. We’ve got to possibilities: one is the LHC, the particle accelerator, which can produce a great amount of energies and, thus, can probe space at very small distances. Space, energy and matter can be conceived as the same thing. At least, they’re intimately related to each other, in such a way that if we probe one we can draw conclusions about the others. Because of what I said before: matter and space geometry are intimately related since Einstein and all that. With the LHC we hope to find something, even though we don’t expect too much. But we have more realistic hopes with high energy cosmic rays, even though they’re far more incontrollable. With those cosmic rays, which have an energy which is much higher than what we can generate in CERN, we could study some phenomenons which may confirm those theories. But, at the moment, we are still clueless.

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