Monday, February 4, 2019

Take a 60-minute tour of space, time and spacetime

“I’ll begin with Saint Augustine,” says Emory physicist Erin Bonning, referring to the 4th-century philosopher and theologian who wrote some of the earliest known reflections on time and how humans perceive it. He summed time up: “I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is, and try to explain, I am baffled.”

Bonning, director of the Emory Planetarium and a lecturer in the Department of Physics, collapses centuries of ideas and discovery about the universe into a mind-bending, 60-minute talk, “Space, Time and Spacetime,” that you can watch in the video above.

Bonning explains the ongoing quest for our understanding of time and how it relates to space: From recognition of the regular appearances of the sun, to the sense of time flowing through an hour glass, to the ticking of the first mechanical clocks, and on through the insights of Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Michelson, Einstein and more. She even gives the perspective of aliens whizzing by Earth in a spaceship.

She winds up her talk, a recently delivered Emory Williams Lecture in the Liberal Arts, by discussing explorations of gravitational waves, dark matter and the drive to manipulate spacetime deliberately.

Fantastic light: From science fiction to fact

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