About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of the Big Bang

March 16, 2012

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Times change, literally, for human culture and the cosmos as a whole.

According to astrophysicist Adam Frank, specific human conceptions of time don’t last forever and our “modern” version is already in the midst of a radical change. In his new book, About Time, Dr. Frank argues that new ideas in cosmology are pushing the revolution in time to its final stage.

Just as a “clockwork universe” followed the invention of the clock 500 years ago, scientists are now moving beyond theories of the big bang to talk about universes built from information pushing time into mind-boggling new territory. Imagine: an eternal “multi-verse” made of infinite, parallel universes with infinite versions of you; lots of little bangs but no big bang beginning; a string theory universe in 10 dimensions of ever-repeating cycles; or a universe where time doesn’t exist at all. It’s impossible to say which of these new ideas will become the foundation for a new time because the science is still in flux. We do know we’re living at the twilight of the big bang. It’s the end of time as we know it now and as we live it now.

Recorded Friday, March 16, 2012 at Hughes Auditorium at Northwestern University, Chicago campus.