|Abstract||What is the difference between time and space? This question, once a central one in metaphysics, has not been treated kindly by recent history. By joining together space and time into spacetime Minkowski sapped some of the spirit out of this project. That is unfortunate, however, for even in relativistic theories there remain sharp and important metrical and topological distinctions between the timelike and spacelike directions of spacetime. Questions about what these differences are, why they exist and how they are related are fascinating. Why, for instance, is time one-dimensional in virtually all physical theories? What does the “minus sign” in the relativistic metric have to do with time? Is there a connection between the two? At a time when researchers in quantum gravity regularly propose speculative theories with no time at all, a better understanding of time in physics is all the more important—even if only to see what is lost by its absence.|
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