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Polanyi Lecture: “The Problem of the Direction of Time”

Michael Polanyi Lecture in the History and Philosophy of Natural Science “The Problem of the Direction of Time” Tuesday, Oct. 14 5:30 pm, Mandela Auditorium, FedEx Global Education Center. David Z. Albert, Fredrick E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University. Our everyday experience swarms with vivid distinctions between the past and future, yet there seems to be no trace of such a distinction anywhere in the fundamental microscopic laws of nature. UNC weeknight parking guidelines: move.unc.edu/parking

David Z. Albert will deliver the 2019 Polanyi lecture titled “The Problem of the Direction of Time” on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium of the FedEx Global Education Center.

Our everyday experience of being in the world is swarming with vivid and obvious and innumerable distinctions between the past and the future. Paper burns but never un-burns, sugar dissolves in coffee but never spontaneously separates out of it, we have memories and records of the past but not of the future, we are convinced that by acting now we can affect the future but not the past, and so on. But there seems to be no trace of such a distinction anywhere in the fundamental microscopic laws of nature. And the tension between these two facts has been sitting at the heart of our scientific picture of the world for more than a century now. And the question of what to make of that tension, and what to do with that tension, has come to be called the problem of the direction of time.

David Albert is the Frederick E. Woodbridge Professor of Philosophy. He is the author of Quantum Mechanics and Experience and Time and Chance and has published many articles on quantum mechanics, mostly in the Physical Review. His areas of specialization include philosophical problems of modern physics, philosophy of space and time, and the philosophy of science.

There will be a reception after the event.

UNC weeknight parking guidelines: move.unc.edu/parking

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