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What Makes Time Special?$
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Craig Callender

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198797302

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198797302.001.0001

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Looking at the World Sideways

Looking at the World Sideways

(p.157) 8 Looking at the World Sideways
What Makes Time Special?

Craig Callender

Oxford University Press

When physics tells its story of the world, it writes on spatial pages and we flip pages in the temporal directions. The present moment contains the seeds of what happens next. Relativity challenges many of our pre-theoretical thoughts about time, yet even this would-be destroyer of time adheres to the idea that production or determination runs along the set of temporal directions. We might think of this fact as one of the last remnants left of manifest time in physics. Is even this residue of manifest time safe from physics? Looking at the world sideways, can we march “initial” data from “east” to “west” as well as from earlier to later? Or put even more loosely: can physics tell its stories if we write on non-spatial pages and read in non-temporal directions?

Keywords:   Cauchy problem, initial value problem, well-posed, characteristic, determinism, partial differential equation

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