#TAOT (The Arrows Of  Time, December 13, 2014):

SynTalk thinks about the unidirectional nature of time and wonders if time is a separate ‘category’ at all. We dip into cosmology, computer science, neuroscience, quantum physics, & philosophy. We wonder whether time is essentially a (background) variable. Is time nature’s way of preventing everything from happening at the same time (a la Wheeler)? The concepts are derived off / from Newton, Fred Hoyle, Maxwell, Dirac, Planck, Godel, Bohr, Einstein, H G Wells, Wheeler, Feynman, Prigogine, Landauer, Roy Kerr, Everett, Novikov, & Zeldovich, among others. How has the notion of time changed with digital watches? What is ‘logical time’, & the importance of multiple systems synchronizing with each other? What would happen if we hit an electron with a hammer? Do we get ‘it from bit’, and what is the possible link of time with (quantized) information? Can neurons be thought of as being probabilistically synchronized oscillators? We also discuss the concept of Planck’s time as the fundamental unit, & the resultant notion of whether time is discrete or continuous. What is the link between causality and time? We discuss the fascinating links of time with thermodynamics, entropy, ‘action-at-a-distance’, & closed / open systems. What would happen, surprisingly, if a hot star were to be connected with a cold star via a conducting wire? The nature of neurological time, and its links with octopuses, crabs, speeding cars, a ‘cache of situations’, & reflex actions. How do (memory) space & time tradeoffs impact computer algorithms? Can time be lost? How ‘branching time’ creates possible worlds that are not known a priori? Is time travel possible (via a worm holes), and does it need a conception different from ‘state-based’ time? Do animals ‘have’ time? The SynTalkrs are: Prof. Jayant V. Narlikar (astrophysics, IUCAA, Pune), Prof. Krithi Ramamritham (computer science, IIT Bombay, Mumbai), & Prof. Sisir Roy (theoretical physics, NIAS, IISc, Bangalore).

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TAOT show.

Dr. Jayant V. Narlikar (astrophysics, mathematics) is Emeritus Professor, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune. Prof. Narlikar received his Bachelor of Science degree from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1957. He then began his studies at Fitzwilliam House, Cambridge University in England, where he received a B.A. in Mathematics in 1959 and was the Senior Wrangler. He got his Cambridge degrees in Mathematics: B.A.(1960), Ph.D. (1963), M.A. (1964) and Sc.D. (1976), but specialized in astronomy and astrophysics. He distinguished himself at Cambridge with the Smith’s Prize in 1962 and the Adams Prize in 1967. He later stayed on at Cambridge till 1972, as Fellow of King’s College (1963-72) and Founder Staff Member of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy (1966-72). During this period he laid the foundations of his research work in cosmology and astrophysics in collaboration with his mentor Fred Hoyle. He is internationally known for his work in cosmology, and for championing models alternative to the popularly believed big bang model. He was President of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union from 1994 to 1997. His work has been on the frontiers of gravity and Mach’s Principle, quantum cosmology and action-at-a-distance physics. He has received several national and international awards & honorary doctorates. Prof. Narlikar was decorated with Padma Bhushan in 1965, at the young age of 26. In 2004 he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.

Prof. Krithi Ramamritham (computer science, real time systems) is currently the Vijay and Sita Vashee Chair Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Bombay, Mumbai. During 2006-2009, he also served as Dean (R&D) at IIT Bombay. His research explores timeliness and consistency issues in computer systems, in particular, databases, real-time systems, and distributed applications. His recent work addresses these issues in the context of sensor networks, embedded systems, mobile environments and smart grids. During the last few years he has been interested in the use of ICT for creating tools aimed at socio-economic development. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, ACM, Indian Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, India, and the Indian National Academy of Engineering. He has received the IBM Faculty Award on two occasions. He is also a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Madras and the Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from the University of Sydney. He has been associated with the editorial board of various journals including IEEE Embedded Systems Letters, Springer’s Real-Time Systems Journal (Editor-in-Chief), IEEE Internet Computing and the VLDB (Very Large Databases) Journal. Of the two startups that he has co-founded, Agrocom offers award-winning ICT-based real-time decision-support tools to farmers and organizations enabling progressive farming, while Nex Robotics delivers high quality products in robotics and embedded systems. He received his B.Tech. (Electrical Engineering) and M.Tech. (Computer Science) degrees from IIT Madras, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Utah and then had a long stint as a Professor at the University of Massachusetts.

Prof. Sisir Roy (theoretical physics, interdisciplinary) is a scientist who worked as Professor in the Physics and Applied Mathematics Unit (PAMU), Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata since 1980 and is currently the T.V. Raman Chair Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), IISc, Bangalore. His fields of research include the foundations of quantum theory, theoretical astrophysics and cosmology, besides modeling brain functions and higher order cognitive activities. In the last several years, Prof. Roy has also worked in philosophical areas such as consciousness, mind/body problem, internal representation, and foundations of ethics in the cosmic order. Prof. Roy has worked in many universities in USA and Europe as a visiting faculty. He has worked with, among others, Prof. Jena Pierre Vigier (Institut Henri Poincare, Paris), Prof. Ralph Abraham (University of California), and Prof. Rodolfo Llinas (New York University School of Medicine, New York). He has published more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed international journals and ten research monographs and edited volumes. He is associated with editorial boards of various international journals of physics and interdisciplinary sciences. [Note: Also a SynTalkr on #TGOI (The Grounds Of Introspection)]

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

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