Scope of Time and Matter 2010
TIME and MATTER represent a fundamental
part of our perception of the phenomena that take place around
us. Perceived phenomena involve the time evolution of the interaction
between objects. In physics these two concepts are of primary
The concept of TIME is needed for a quantitative
description of dynamics, providing us with a parameter that marks out
steps in the evolution of relations between physical
objects. MATTER represents the objects that move in
space and time and of course matter is energy and vice versa. This
matter stress-energy, via the Theory of General Relativity given to us
by Einstein almost a century ago, creates the same space-time arena in
which everything moves and interacts. However, this simple and
apparently intuitive picture leaves many unanswered questions that are
at the forefront of research in almost all branches of physics.
Is this picture a precise and complete way to describe all possible physical phenomena or is it an approximation to a more fundamental underlying reality in which time and matter play new and possibly as yet undiscovered roles? We believe that at the Big Bang time had its beginning, but in exactly what way this happened and if a meaning can be given to a phrase "Before the Big Bang" are completely open questions. Is time at extremely fine temporal resolution really continuous, is it perhaps discrete, or is it just an effective parameter? We also have very good experimental evidence that we do not yet have a complete understanding of all possible forms of matter. Most notably this is evidenced by the ongoing searches for the constituents of Dark Matter and for the elusive Higgs Boson.
Some other areas of active research that touch on time and matter are: the precise and ever more accurate measurement of time itself; the baryon number of our universe and it's generation via a violation of microscopic time reversal invariance; the precise measurement of CP violation, and the search for possible CPT violation, in the interactions of fundamental particles; thermodynamics and the effective macroscopic arrow of time related to the direction of increasing entropy; the early universe, the beginning of time; the early universe and the balance between Dark Matter, Dark Energy and other forms of matter that lead to our universe as we see it today; EPR measurements and their implications for locality and causality in quantum physics; philosophical questions related to time in the study of fundamental physics.
It is a fascinating moment to be engaged in these investigations due to the interelationship between different theories and experiments. In particular research into the very small here on earth today, both in particle accelerators and in the measurement of time, is complementary to the observation of the very distant in astrophysics and cosmology. Both have an equal bearing on our understanding of Time and Matter. Due to these interrelations between the forefront of investigations in diverse realms of the physical world this conference is basically and fundamentally interdisciplinary and we hope it can help us to get a better grasp of the "Big Picture", where different phenomena are revealing profound connections.
Martin O'Loughlin, April 2009.