It's About Time!

With Paul Borrill

A place to discuss our evolving knowledge of the nature of time and causality.  For physicists, computer scientists, mathematicians, neuroscientists, philosophers, and practicing engineers.

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Spacetime is Doomed.

A relationship with time is intrinsic to everything we do within and between our networked computers. An assumption that time is a smooth, irreversible, global Newtonian/Minkowskian background is a common but rarely questioned belief in computer science; yet, physicists now know this model to be incorrect.  Our guest speakers are all people who have thought deeply about the nature of time. We collectively realize that a new understanding could potentially revolutionize the way we approach physics, computer science, chemistry, neuroscience, and many other subjects.

ItsAboutTime is Alive and Well

On July 1st 2023, we moved the group discussions to a more focused private weekly meeting we call Mulligan Stew on Zoom at 7am (Pacific Time) on Fridays, participants include (in addition to mathematicians and physicists), experts in the Database/ Distributed computing community. We continue to explore the nature of time and causality in physics & computer science, and how this connects to the reliability of transactions in datacenters of all varieties and scales. 

If you would like to learn more about what’s in the future for ItsAboutTime.club, and, Mulligan Stew, please follow @plborrill on twitter and DM us there to be invited to Mulligan Stew.

If you would like to learn more about our company, and the breakthroughs we are making in distributed computing, please visit  https://daedaelus.com 

Fireside Chat with the Founders of the Precision Time Protocol

Paul Borrill hosts the special 100th session of the Time Appliances Project (TAP) with the founders of the IEEE 1588 Precision Timing Protocol. Join us on May 8th 10:30-Noon (Pacific) as we hear from John Eidson, Kang Lee, and Doug Arnold about their roles in the origins of precise time-keeping.

OCP-TAP Fireside Chat

Latest Episode

20-May-23
Challenges with Modern Cosmology & Implications for Time (Did the big bang happen?)
Björn Ekeberg

New observations from the James Webb Space Telescope and scientific challenges to dark matter put the standard model of cosmology in crisis. How deep do the problems go and how does it affect time?

Recent Episodes

29-Apr-23
Compositional Causality-
Jonathan Gorard

Notions of causality invoked in quantum information theory, relativity, distributed systems, etc. seem incompatible, and fraught with philosophical difficulties. Can ideas from category theory help?

22-Apr-23
Bell’s Theorem and Retrocausality-
Ken Wharton

Combined with quantum entanglement experiments, Bell's Theorem has long proved that we can't have nice things when it comes to space, time, and causality. But it is now becoming widely appreciated that we can still demand locally-mediated influences if we are willing to allow for hidden retrocausality. This talk will describe the various motivations for developing retrocausal models of quantum phenomena, detail some promising models already in the literature, and summarize their prospects for restoring a spacetime-based reality to fundamental physics.

01-Apr-23
Reducing Jitter in Cloud Databases-
Pat Helland

Gray failures in clouds cause delays in responses to requests. Can we build fast transactional DBs if ENOUGH servers answer quickly while others are slow? What does time mean for transactions?

25-Mar-23
Computational Complexity Theory and Thermodynamic Resource Costs-
David Wolpert

Resource costs in Computational complexity depend on the size of the input. We summarize recent results of its relationship to heat, and research issues at the intersection of stochastic thermodynamics and computer science theory.

18-Mar-23
Information, Entropy, and Digital computation-
Edward A. Lee

Edward A. Lee discusses why digital physics may be an untestable scientific hypothesis that leads to much more difficult engineering models of the world than the ones we are familiar with

11-Mar-23
From von Neumann's rejection of Hilbert space to quantum for kids-
Bob Coecke

Bob Coecke discusses the shift in conceptual underpinnings that have happened since when John von Neumann wanted an alternative quantum formalism to recent developments, which include unification with causality.

4-Mar-23
Using Quantum Technologies to play with Quantum Foundations-
Jonte Hance

Jonte discusses two areas of quantum foundations ---interaction-free measurement and (statistical independence-violating) extensions of QM---to show how quantum technologies can be used to probe these.

18-Feb-23
Computing Needs Time-
Edward A. Lee

Time in concurrent and distributed software systems is distinctly non-Newtonian and notoriously difficult to reason about. A central challenge is to give system designers an abstraction that they find intuitive while still being able to deliver efficient implementations. One approach is to introduce a logical notion of time, distinct from physical time, that behaves in Newtonian way. This approach exposes some limitations, specifically a fundamental tradeoff between achieving agreement across a distributed system and the time it takes to determine what has been agreed upon. This tradeoff between Consistency (agreement) and Availability (time to access the agreement) gets worse as network Latencies increase, a result called the CAL theorem. A basic goal is to give designers the tools they need to work with this tradeoff.

11-Feb-23
Timekeeping in the 21st century – What are atomic clocks and how can we make use of them?-
Anne Curtis

Dr. Curtis delves into the experimental realities of atomic clocks and explore applications taking them beyond their clock-based origins: navigation, sensing, and testing General Relativity and physics beyond the Standard Model.

4-Feb-23
Quantum Uncertainty and Empirical Completeness -
Johannes Fankhauser

Johannes will discuss whether quantum uncertainty is fundamental or if alternative theories could have predictive advantage. The problem connects to locality and reconciles us to quantum features as aspects of limits on Nature's predictability.

28-Jan-23
Time Travel Paradoxes and Entangled Timelines-
Barak Shoshany

Dr. Shoshany discusses the idea that if time travel is possible, then parallel timelines must also be possible in order to resolve the resulting paradoxes.

21-Jan-23
Causality and the Arrow of Time in the Quantum World-
Giulia Rubino

Giulia explains how applying key quantum features such as superposition and entanglement to time flow and causal relations bears implications in fundamental physics and benefits for quantum computing.

14-Jan-23
Time Symmetry in Quantum Theory: A story with twists and turns-
Lucien Hardy

The story of time symmetry versus time asymmetry in Quantum Theory has undergone various twists and turns. Schroedinger's equation is time symmetric but quantum collapses introduce time asymmetry. Then Aharonov and co-workers found a way to restore time asymmetry for pure state Quantum Theory. However, this was undermined by the Pavia group who showed that causality (the inability to influence the past) reintroduces time asymmetry in the more general case of mixed state Quantum Theory. More recently (in my own work and that of others) it has been seen how to recover time symmetry in Quantum Theory. Is this the end of the story? Is having time symmetry important for the development of a theory of Quantum Gravity?

7-Jan-23
The Reality of Time Flow (Local Becoming in Modern Physics)-
Ric Arthur

Our naïve human senses can feel like there is an asymmetry in time when there is not. Here Bryan describes what is needed to have a true arrow of time, in the sense that 'time itself' has an asymmetry.

17-Dec-22-
Reversible Computing and Digital Technology Trends-
Michael Frank

Mike Frank will talk about the future of digital computing and the need for reversible computing technology, and speculate about why reversible computation may someday be key to saving the universe.”

10-Dec-22-
Misfiring Arrows of Time-
Bryan Roberts

Our naïve human senses can feel like there is an asymmetry in time when there is not. Here Bryan describes what is needed to have a true arrow of time, in the sense that 'time itself' has an asymmetry.

3-Dec-22-
Fusions of Consciousness-
Donald Hoffman

Donald explores a dynamical theory of conscious agents beyond spacetime, and its projection via decorated permutations onto spacetime.

26-Nov-22-
Entanglement, Spacetime, and Quantum Gravity-
Mark Van Raamsdonk

Mark talks about the holographic approach to quantum gravity, the emergence of spacetime from quantum entanglement, and what this might teach us about the real world.

19-Nov-22-
Quantum steampunk: Thermodynamics meets quantum information-
Nicole Yunger Halpern

Victorian thermodynamics crystallized the notion of entropy, which quantum information science has extended. Fusing these modern and antiquated sciences, quantum thermodynamics is real-life steampunk.

12-Nov-22-
Physics in 9 lines - Results and Remarkable Consequences with Suggestions for the Teaching of Physics-
Christoph Schiller

400 years of modern physics are summarized in 9 short lines - 5 principles and 4 sets of choices - that contain general relativity, quantum theory and the standard model of particle physics.

What People Say

"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be part of the Vienna Circle? To listen to contemporary philosophers and scientists struggle with and debate the deepest mysteries confronting modern science? It's not surprising that the 21st-century version of the Vienna Circle would be found in the digital world, and this is what IAT meetings often feel like."
Andrei Vazhnov
"It's about time" room, by any measure, has been the most useful and educational room that I have participated in on Clubhouse. I understand and appreciate the challenges of managing such a room, which delves into the most cutting-edge issues of science, yet is simple enough for people without specialized training in the subject to participate. You and your management style have done a phenomenally excellent job of guiding this discussion. For this, and for your time, eagerness, and dedication, I thank you. Five stars. Kudos. I look forward to many more."
Babak Mohit
"Paul has a unique ability to find and bring together deep thinkers with an open and collaborative spirit. It's only by setting aside prejudice and embracing the process of inquiry at a fundamental level that we can reach the new and the previously fantastic. This series of meetings is a testament to that notion, and I tip my hat to everyone involved."
Mark Burgess, PhD
"A lively and wide-ranging club, covering topics in physics, neuroscience, philosophy, and the intersection of all three. Also provides a rare opportunity to have real-time and in-depth exchanges with prominent scientists and philosophers, and for those scientists and philosophers to reach a wider audience than they normally might. One of my favorite Clubhouse rooms!"
Maaneli Derakhshani, PhD
"It's About Time" is a unique meeting place for anyone interested in time, causality and much else besides. The quality of the audience is a delight: whether it's physicists, mathematicians, technologists, philosophers or even mere writers like me, the conversation is inquisitive and informed. Paul makes everyone feel welcome, from the lifelong academic to the casually interested. If you want to be part of some of the most interesting developments in physics, mathematics and technology right now, this is the place."
Mark Jeffrey
"The importance of some moments in time only becomes clear in retrospect. In the early days of the It's About Time club, I didn't realize I was participating in such a meaningful experience. Over time I've seen how Paul's particular personality, knowledge base, skill set, and commitment have created a unique and meaningful platform for discussing the issue of time in its many facets. It's an honor to have participated in this room, and I've met many new thought leaders in the field through Paul's leadership. I hope it continues to expand!"
Sky Isaacs-Nelson
"It's about time -- a uniquely intimate and fascinating platform for hearing from the biggest thinkers in the world in a wide variety of topics -- I learn something every time I attend. Paul brings together great people & questions that get to the bottom of real research and ideas. In the digital age, this is the new collaborative medium -- it's about time!"
Alex Morrise, PhD.

Meet Your Host

Paul Borrill, PhD - CEO

Paul Borrill is the founder and CEO of Daedaelus Corporation and is a leading industry expert on the foundations of resilient network and storage infrastructures. Paul has served on: Apple’s Infrastructure team.  VP/CTO for VERITAS Software. VP/Chief Architect for Storage Systems at Quantum Corporation. Distinguished Engineer, Director of Architecture & Performance, and Chief Scientist for IR at Sun Microsystems.

Paul was educated In Physics at the University of Manchester, has a Ph.D. in Physics from University College London, and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program.

“Many of the most intractable mysteries in cosmology, physics, and biology have to do with our insufficient understanding of time and its irreversibility in the face of the apparent symmetry of the laws of nature. A deeper understanding of time and related mysteries of entropy and causality may unlock new horizons in many disciplines at once. IAT is a weekly conversation where scientists, philosophers, and engineers meet to advance our understanding of time.”