Einstein's General and Special theories of relativity have completely changed the way we see gravity, energy, mass, space and time even size - but how? Physicists may find it easy to understand what his ideas mean; like this quote “The distinction between the past, the present and the future is nothing but a stubbornly persistent illusion”. But for us, the general public, just thinking that the the arrow of time is an illusion, is enough to give us a bad headache and leave us wishing that Newton was right after all. But that’s not what we do on Chasing Consciousness, our mission is the same as always, to update our world view to match new theories. Now this sounds like no small feat, but have no fear, all will be be clarified by a man with a skill for presenting complex ideas in a way we can all understand, one of the worlds most published popular science writers, Professor Paul Davies.


Paul Davies is a Cosmologist and Professor of Physics and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University. His work has covered topics as far reaching as Cosmology, Quantum Fields and Astrobiology, with a sprinkling of the Search for Extra terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and cancer research to boot. He’s the bestselling author of almost thirty popular science books, his many awards include the Templeton Prize and the Faraday Prize of the Royal Society. He is a Member of the Order of Australia and even has an asteroid named after him! Quite a career!

His new book ‘What’s eating the universe’, that covers many of the topics we’ll touch on today, is out now.


What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Intro

08:00 ‘The universe is about something’

10:00 Entropy explained: the universes tendency towards disorder

16:00 The warping of space time

20:30 The ongoing experiments that proved Einstein’s predictions right

22:00 The implications of gravity slowing time

27:25 The interdependence of size, speed, mass and thus space-time: The SPECIAL theory of relativity explained

31:25 Time and Space are relative, and can change and move like matter

32:45 Space time is the new constant

34:45 Hermann Minkowski - the real coiner of the term ‘Space-time’

36:00 Arrow of time VS Block time - ‘Time is just there’

38:30 Matter is energy or Mass is a form of energy

42:00 The table isn’t solid, its mostly empty space

43:00 Neutrino’s can pass through the earth

44:30 Did time start at the Big Bang?

49:00 Time doesn’t flow universally, it’s what clocks measure

52:00 3 big origin problems: the universe, life and consciousness

59:00 New principles and laws may emerge at high levels of complexity: we must test them

1:00:00 ‘Space time is doomed’ Nima Akami Hamed Princeton University

1:03:00 John Wheeler - the ‘bendy rubber’ analogy of space time

1:05:00 Einstein’s famous quotes explained

1:08:00 Intuition according to Einstein



Paul Davies 'What's Eating the Universe: An other cosmic questions'

An Einstein Ring

Isaac Newton quote, ’Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external’

St Augustine quote ‘The world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time’

Nima Arkani-Hamed ‘Space Time is Dead’ lecture (from 14.20)

John Wheeler ‘pregeometry’

Roger Penrose ‘twister theory’

Mach’s Principle