Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 March 2014
What can more than two thousand years of human thought and several hundred years of hard science tell us finally about the true nature of space and time? This is the question that the philosopher Jeremy Butterfield and I posed to a unique panel of top mathematicians, physicists and theologians in a public discussion that took place at Emmanuel College, Cambridge in September 2006, and this is the book that grew out of that event. All four other panellists, myself and the astronomer Andy Taylor who spoke at a related workshop, now present our personal but passionately held insights in rather more depth.
The first thing that can be said is we do not honestly know the true nature of space and time. Therefore this book is not about selling a particular theory but rather it provides six refreshingly diverse points of view from which the reader can see that the topic is very much as alive today as it was at the time of St Augustine or of Newton or of Einstein. Our goal is not only to expose to the modern public revolutionary ideas at the cutting edge of theoretical physics, mathematics and astronomy but to expose that there is a debate to be had in the first place and at all levels, including a wider human context. Moreover, the reader will find here essays from leading figures unconstrained by peer pressure, fashion or dogma.