Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Carlo Rovelli: The present is a localized rather than global phenomenon

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Carlo Rovelli, author of The Order of Time, that there is neither space nor time:

A present that is common throughout the whole universe does not exist. Events are not ordered in pasts, presents, and futures; they are only “partially” ordered. There is a present that is near to us, but nothing that is “present” in a far-off galaxy. The present is a localized rather than a global phenomenon.

The difference between past and future does not exist in the elementary equations that govern events in the world. It issues only from the fact that, in the past, the world found itself subject to a state that, with our blurred take on things, appears particular to us.

Locally, time passes at different speeds according to where we are and at what speed we ourselves are moving. The closer we are to a mass, or the faster we move, the more time slows down: There is no single duration between two events; there are many possible ones.

The rhythms at which time flows are determined by the gravitational field, a real entity with its own dynamic that is described in the equations of Einstein. If we overlook quantum effects, time and space are aspects of a great jelly in which we are immersed. Carlo Rovelli, “The End of Time” at Nautilus

These are good thoughts to keep in mind but, at the end of the day, no matter how we choose to describe the situation, time doesn’t end; we do.

Carlo Rovelli

See also: Cosmologist Carlo Rovelli: Future time travel only a technological problem

Carlo Rovelli: Theories of everything ill-conceived but we can learn to understand quantum mechanics


Cosmologist: Philosophy is essential to the development of physics.

7 Replies to “Carlo Rovelli: The present is a localized rather than global phenomenon

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    I don’t know whether Rovelli means “there is neither space nor time” literally, but these passages show how difficult it is to talk about these things without at least the appearance of contradiction.

    If “the present is a localized rather than a global phenomenon”, doesn’t that imply that space exists? What do “local” and “global” mean in a universe without space?

  2. 2
    FourFaces says:

    The crackpottery is strong with this one. The present is ALL there is. Anything else is idiocy.

  3. 3
    PaoloV says:

    This kind of baseless ideas makes me feel more attracted to serious discussions like the ones started by gpuccio.

  4. 4
    PaoloV says:

    However, I’m glad to see this stuff reported here, so we are aware of what’s going on out there. This kind of stuff seems to sell well.

  5. 5
    daveS says:


    While I indicated an issue I have with the subtitle of the piece, the paragraphs that News quoted look to me (as a layperson) to be consistent with standard GR theory, which has been extensively tested. Which part(s) do you find baseless?

  6. 6
    FourFaces says:

    Locally, time passes at different speeds

    This is so wrong, it hurts. To hear it coming from a physicist hurts even more.

    The truth is that time does not pass. Time cannot change, period. Changing or passing time is self-referential. A change in time assumes a rate of change or velocity. This would have to be given as v = dt/dt = 1. This is nonsensical.

    Anytime someone tries to sell you some BS about the relativity of time, you know you are talking to either a fool or a charlatan. Clocks can slow down or speed up for whatever reason but time is unchanging.

    PS. There is a powerful reason that Karl Popper called Einstein’s spacetime, “a block universe in which nothing happens.” It’s because of the time dimension.

  7. 7
    random.dent says:

    dt/dt’, where t and t’ are times measured in different reference frames, can be different than 1.

    This is undergrad physics if you want to study it further. Specifically, the Lorentz transformation t’=gamma(t-vx/c^2).

    There’s a derivation here if you’re interested:

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