On Relativity, Time Reckoning, and the Topology of Time Series

Roberto Torretti

in The Arguments of Time

Published by British Academy

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263464
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734748 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Centenary Monographs

On Relativity, Time Reckoning, and the Topology of Time Series

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This chapter devotes equal attention to special relativity and general relativity. It first describes the history of the analysis of distant simultaneity, up to and including Einstein's procedure in his revolutionary 1905 paper which introduced special relativity. In particular, the discussion relates Einstein's procedure to the ensuing philosophical debate about whether distant simultaneity is a matter of convention. As to general relativity, the discussion gives a brief sketch of Einstein's path towards his discovery of general relativity. Thereafter, it focuses on the topological structure of time or, more precisely, of timelike lines (worldlines) in spacetime. It discusses the closed timelike lines first found in an exact solution of general relativity by Godel; and the open timelike geodesics that get arbitrarily close to the initial singularity (Big Bang) in a Friedmann solution.

Keywords: general relativity; special relativity; Albert Einstein; Big Bang; worldlines; distant simultaneity; timelike geodesics

Chapter.  8654 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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