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THE LONG & SHORT OF IT

This physicist’s ideas of time will blow your mind

Girl fascinated by giant clock, Germany.
EPA/Ralf Hirschberger
Time is the space between memory and anticipation.
  • Ephrat Livni
By Ephrat Livni

Senior reporter, law & politics, DC.

This article is more than 2 years old.

Time feels real to people. But it doesn’t even exist, according to quantum physics. “There is no time variable in the fundamental equations that describe the world,” theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli tells Quartz.

If you met him socially, Rovelli wouldn’t assault you with abstractions and math to prove this point. He’d “rather not ruin a party with physics,” he says. We don’t have to understand the mechanics of the universe to go about our daily lives. But it’s good to take a step back every once in a while.

“Time is a fascinating topic because it touches our deepest emotions. Time opens up life and takes everything away. Wondering about time is wondering about the very sense of our life. This is [why] I have spent my life studying time,” Rovelli explains.

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