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The nature of time is an age-old conundrum for physicists, philosophers, biologists and theologians. The Newtonian picture of time—a kind of cosmic clock that ticks off time in a manner that applies identically to everyone and everything—tightly aligns with our experience. But with special and general relativity, Einstein showed the fallacy inherent in experience: the rate at which time elapses depends on circumstance and environment. These discoveries raise even more basic, long-standing puzzles: What is time? Is it a fundamental feature of reality or something we humans impose on experience? Does time come into existence with the universe or does it transcend it? Why does time exist at all?

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Moderator

Ira FlatowRadio Host

Ira Flatow is the host of Science Friday on PRI, Public Radio International. He anchors the show each Friday, bringing radio and Internet listeners worldwide a lively, informative discussion on science, technology, health, space and the environment. Flatow is president of ScienceFriday, Inc. and founder and president of Science Friday Initiative.

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Participants

Craig CallenderPhilosopher

Craig Callender is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. His work focuses on the philosophy of science, especially physics. He has a lifelong interest in the mysteries of time. By attacking the problems associated with time through interdisciplinary means—especially physics, philosophy and psychology—he hopes to show how our manifest image of time arises in creatures like us.

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Tim MaudlinPhilosopher

Tim Maudlin is a professor of philosophy at NYU. He holds a B.A. in physics and philosophy from Yale and a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity.

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Max TegmarkPhysicist, Author

Known as “Mad Max” for his unorthodox ideas and passion for adventure, Max Tegmark’s scientific interests range from precision cosmology to the ultimate nature of reality. He is author or coauthor of more than two hundred technical papers, twelve of which have been cited more than five hundred times.

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Paul DaviesPhysicist, Cosmologist, Astrobiologist

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and best-selling author. He is Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he is Director of Beyond: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science.

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