A reconsideration of the nature of time and the consequences for modern physics.
According to author Palazzo (Are the Laws of Physics Weird?, 2016, etc.), the stubborn resistance of time to definitive elucidation is the function of a long-standing mistake: Motion has long been considered a function of the relationship between distance and time, which makes time a fundamental concept and motion a derivative one. Palazzo, however, provocatively suggests that relationship is reversed: Motion is fundamental, and time is a convenient mental construct devised to measure motion. In fact, the author considers the system of numbers and the whole of mathematics to be a mental contrivance, psychologically necessary to organize the world of matter in motion but ontologically unreal, a central assumption never sufficiently demonstrated. The remainder of Palazzo’s work is a meditation on the ramifications of this revision and a view of the cosmos as a collection of material objects moving through space. For example, the Minkowski coordinate system is better understood as a graph since observable motion is three-dimensional. Energy and entropy require a substantive revaluation as well, and the author proposes a new, third law of kinematics. Regarding quantum mechanics, the traditional relationship between waves and particles is overturned when a wave is redefined as a mathematical function—an actual medium isn’t necessary for the transference of energy from particle to particle. Palazzo also highlights a central difficulty of general relativity—it doesn’t provide a complete picture of gravitational force and cannot adequately account for galactic stellar motion. Finally, Palazzo explores the cosmological implications of interpreting gravity as a “fictitious force,” especially for the Big Bang theory. The author’s efforts are remarkably ambitious, and his command of the material is powerful. Also, he manages to traverse an enormous swath of intellectual ground in just over 130 pages. The writing, however, is prohibitively dense and will only be accessible to those with an advanced understanding of modern physics. Also, Palazzo’s contention that “the Ancients” defined time independent of motion is both false (Aristotle explicitly linked the two) and vague (who counts as ancient?).
A fascinating but ultimately unpersuasive call for a revolution in modern physics.