Hamiltonian Mechanics and the Nature of Time

Dr. Jim Wheeler
Utah State University
Dept. of Physics


The most elegant and powerful presentation of Newtonian mechanics is the Hamiltonian formulation, in which position and momentum enter on an equal footing. Recently, it has been shown that this Hamiltonian picture can be derived in a fundamental way from symmetry principles. When this more fundamental approach to Hamiltonian mechanics is applied to general relativity, an unexpected thing occurs: the existence of time emerges automatically as a prediction.


My talk will include a basic introduction to Hamiltonian mechanics, and an indication of how it can be developed from symmetry. Then, I will diagram the development of the Hamiltonian formulation of general relativity and show how time slips into the picture.