Dr Peter Riggs

Riggs, Peter profile
Position Visiting Fellow
Department Quantum Science & Technology
Research group


Peter J. Riggs is a leading Australian researcher on the foundations of physics, the nature of time, and methodology of science. He also is an enthusiastic science communicator.

Research interests

  • The nature of time and space
  • Foundations of physics
  • Relativity
  • Conditions of the Early Universe
  • Fundamentals of energy and energy processes
  • Methodology and philosophy of science


Quantum Causality: Conceptual Issues in the Causal Theory of Quantum Mechanics   (Dordrecht: Springer Academic, 2009).

Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology   (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1996, edited collection).

Whys and Ways of Science: Introducing Philosophical and Sociological Theories of Science   (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1992).

Recent publications

'Free-Fall Motion and Time in General Relativity', The Physics Educator 5, 2 (2023): 2350006.    ** Listed in the top articles of 2023 of The Physics Educator.  URL = <https://worldscientific.com/page/tpe/top-articles> **

'Energy and Mass Misconceptions', Physics Education 58, 3 (2023): 035015-1 – 035015-6.  Available at: <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6552/acc0c3>   ** Over 2400 copies downloaded. **

'Four-Velocity and Time in Special Relativity', The Physics Educator 4, 4 (2022): 2250017. 

'Inertia and Inertial Resistance in the Special Theory of Relativity’, Canadian Journal of Physics 99, 9 (2021): 795–798.

'Aspects of Force and Acceleration in Special Relativity', The Physics Educator 3, 4 (2021): 2150014.

'Testing Quantum Mechanics with an Ultra-Cold Particle Trap', Universe 7, 4 (2021): 77.  Available at: <https://www.mdpi.com/2218-1997/7/4/77>

'Revisiting Standing Waves on a Circular Path', The Physics Teacher 59, 2 (2021): 100–102.

'Inference to the Best Explanation: The Case of Potential Energy', European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 16, 1 (2020): 99–116.  Available at: <https://www.ffri.hr/phil/casopis/content/volume_16/16_1_5.pdf>

'Black Holes: Basic Concepts and Popular Misconceptions', Physics Education 54, 6 (2019): 065015-1 – 065015-6.

‘Comment on 'Relativity, potential energy, and mass' ’, European Journal of Physics 40, 2 (2019): 028001-1 – 028001-5.

‘Why 'NOW'?’, Journal for General Philosophy of Science 50, 1 (2019): 171–180.

‘The Physical State of the Universe in the Planck Era’, Zeitschrift für Naturforschung A: Journal of Physical Sciences 73, 6 (2018): 533–537.  Available at: <https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/zna-2018-0110/html>

‘The Temporal Epistemic Anomaly’, Manuscrito – Rev. Int. Fil. Campinas 41, 3 (2018): 1–28.  Available here.

‘What is the Uncertainty Principle of Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics?’, European Journal of Physics 39, 3 (2018): 035409-1 – 035409-10.

‘Physical Time in Perspective’, Interalia 43 (July 2018).  Available at: <https://www.interaliamag.org/articles/peter-j-riggs-physical-time-in-perspective>

‘Beyond Gödel's Time’, Inference: International Review of Science 4, 1 (2018).  Available at: <http://inference-review.com/article/beyond-goedels-time>

'Interstellar Journeys in Human Lifetimes: Numerical Computations', Physics Education 52, 3 (2017): 033001-1 – 033001-6.

‘The Perceptions and Experience of the "Passage" of Time’, The Philosophical Forum 48, 1 (2017): 3–30.   ** Listed in the top twenty of most downloaded articles of The Philosophical Forum for 2017. **

‘Is There a Spatial Analogue of the Passage of Time?’, Philosophy and Cosmology 18 (2017): 12–21.  Available at: <http://ispcjournal.org/journals/2017/Riggs_Philosophy_and_Cosmology_vol_18.pdf>

'A Comparison of Kinetic Energy and Momentum in Special Relativity and Classical Mechanics',  The Physics Teacher  54, 2 (2016): 80–82.            ** Listed in the Best of The Physics Teacher 2015-2016.  URL =  <https://www.aapt.org/Resources/Best-of-TPT-2015-2016.cfm> **

'Contemporary Concepts of Time in Western Science and Philosophy' in McGrath, A. and Jebb, M.-A. (eds), Long History, Deep Time (ANU Press, Canberra, 2015).  Available here.

'A Proposed Experimental Test of Quantum Theory using the Techniques of Atom Optics', arXiv:1411.0464 [quant-ph] (2014).  Available at: <http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.0464>

'Why a Spaceship Cannot Reach the Speed of Light from the Perspective of the Spaceship's Rest Frame',  Latin-American Journal of Physics Education 7, 4 (2013): 604–608.  Available at: <http://www.lajpe.org/dec13/13-LAJPE_846_Peter_Riggs.pdf>

'Momentum Probabilities for a Single Quantum Particle in Three-Dimensional Regular ‘Infinite’ Wells: One Way of Promoting Understanding of Probability Densities',  European Journal of Physics Education 4, 4 (2013): 1–13.  Available at: <http://www.eu-journal.org/index.php/EJPE/article/view/98>.

‘What Do We Feel When We 'Feel' Time 'Passing'?’, Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research 3, 9 (2012): 1061073.

'Motion with Non-Constant Gravitational Acceleration',  Latin-American Journal of Physics Education 5, 3 (2011): 544–547.  Available at: <http://www.lajpe.org/sep11/LAJPE_566_Peter_Riggs_preprint_corr_f.pdf>

'Colliding Ice Comets and the Reality of Energy',  Physics Essays 23, 4 (2010): 621–624.

Recent academic seminars

  • Aspects of Inertia in Relativity. Department of Physics, University of Western Australia, Perth (12 February 2024).  
  • The Evolving Block Universe and the Cosmological Emergence of Time. Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Canberra (29 August 2023). 
  • Inertia and Inertial Resistance in Special Relativity. Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Canberra (17 March 2022). 
  • A Brief Overview of Casual Quantum Mechanics. Department of Quantum Science, Research School of Physics, Australian National University, Canberra (28 November 2019). 

  • Time Dilation and Rates of Flow of Time. Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Canberra (31 October 2019). 
  • On the Physical State of the Universe in the Planck Era. Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Canberra (2 August 2018).


ANU Public Lectures - Topics in Physics & Natural Philosophy

The ANU Public Lectures series offers a forum in which ideas, theories and recent developments in physics and their philosophical implications are communicated to a general audience. The lectures on Physics and Natural Philosophy do not assume any prior knowledge and are specifically designed and presented for the public.

These lectures have been indefinitely suspended.

Previous Public Lectures:

  • February 2021. Anti-gravity Devices: Are They Realistic?

There have been several claims made over the last fifty years that antigravity devices have actually been constructed. This lecture looked at what these claims are about and some of the individual devices proposed.

  • February 2020.  Time’s Labyrinth: Revealing the Characteristics of Time.
We live in a single moment yet always feel time 'passing'. Can physical science account for time and its perceptions or do we need cognitive science and neurophysiology to help explain time's characteristics? These questions were explored.
  • October 2019.  Black Holes and Wormholes: Concepts and Misconceptions.
In this lecture, the concepts behind black holes and wormholes were explained and some of the misconceptions surrounding them dissolved.
  • February 2019.  Is Existence Just an Illusion?

Does life seem illusionary at times? Issues concerning whether our physical existence is what it mostly seems to be or is an illusion were addressed in this lecture.

  • September 2018.  Interstellar Journeys Within a Human Lifetime: Possibilities and Practicalities.

This lecture generally explained what is involved in interstellar travel and by what means it might be done.

  • February 2018.  Why Does the Cosmos Exist?

Why is there anything at all? This is the riddle of existence.  In this lecture, modern physics was considered in order to see if it might enlighten us about why anything exists or whether the answer to the riddle of existence can only be found from metaphysics or religion.

  • September 2017.  How Old is the Sphinx? What the Evidence Reveals.

Recent physical evidence points to the Great Sphinx at the Giza Plateau being much older than what academic egyptologists would have us believe.  This lecture considered the existing physical evidence and the theories that have been proposed to explain this evidence.

  • April 2017.  Time Travel: What's the Current Status?

The laws of physics do not rule out time travel. This lecture reviewed the proposed methods of time travel to see whether they remain viable, and what some consequences of time travel might be.

  • February 2017.  Does Science Support the Claims of Religion?

Public statements are regularly being made that science shows religious claims are true.  This lecture considered the issue of whether recent contentions concerning scientific support for religious claims are well-founded or not.

  • September 2016. Let the Quantum Be !  or
                                 How we learnt to accept uncertainty and love weirdness.

What is the 'quantum'?  Is nature fundamentally uncertain?  This lecture considered what quantum science tells us about the world and some of its more weird implications.

  • March 2016. The Future of Physical Science

An expert panel drawn from three different areas within the ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences tried to navigate the issues of the exponential growth of physical science and where it might go over the next hundred years.

  • October 2015. Why Are We Constrained to Live in the Present Moment?

Although the Present seems to forever 'move forward', we always remain trapped in it.  This talk covered relevant aspects of our experience of the Present and explored whether science can explain why we are prisoners of time.

  • May 2015. What is Reality: Physics or Metaphysics?

The nature of reality has confounded thinkers for millennia.  Concepts of physical reality were considered in this lecture in order to surmise if twenty-first century science will be able to enlighten us about the nature of reality.

  • May 2014. The Big Bang: Was It the Origin of Everything?

The cosmological Big Bang Theory is our current best physical explanation of the evolution of the universe.  This lecture examined the nature of the Big Bang and what alternative ideas are on offer.

  • August 2013. Time Travel: Its Implications for Physics and Philosophy

The idea of time travel is familiar from science fiction. However, there is a serious side to the issue of time travel for the laws of physics do not rule it out.  Implications for both physical science and our view of reality were explored in this talk.

  • October 2012.  The Nature of Time

On a day-to-day basis, time is a concept familiar to us for it affects all aspects of everybody’s life. Despite this, time itself remains a mystery.  This lecture covered characteristics of time as revealed by science and modern viewpoints on the nature of time.


Podcasts on Contemporary Physics and Associated Issues

  • The Riddle of Existence  (ANU, May 2023)

Why is there anything at all? This is the Riddle of Existence. Human beings have been puzzling over this question for millennia. In this interview, various explanations for existence are discussed including that provided by physical science. Available at:  https://soundcloud.com/experience_anu/the-riddle-of-existence

  • The Hover board and the Laws of Physics (Late Night Live, ABC Radio National 2021)

The possibility of anti-gravity devices is discussed in this interview with Phillip Adams.
Available at:  https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/anti-gravity_peter-riggs/13160388

  • Time Travel: It Is More Than Science Fiction  (ANU, June 2020)

The implications for both physical science and our view of reality (given the possibility of time travel to the past) are explained.  Available at:  https://soundcloud.com/experience_anu/time-travel-it-is-more-than-science-fiction

  • Physics, Philosophy and the Nature of Time  (Late Night Live, ABC Radio National 2020)

The characteristics of time and some of the latest ideas and theories about time are discussed in this interview with Phillip Adams.  Available at:  https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/time_peter-riggs/11963494

  • Black Holes and Wormholes  (Late Night Live, ABC Radio National 2019)

The concepts, scientific evidence, and myths concerning black holes and wormholes are discussed in this interview with Phillip Adams.  Available at:  https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/peter-riggs_-black-holes/11544204

  • Will Humans Become an Interplanetary Species?  (Late Night Live, ABC Radio National 2018)

The science and the technology needed to move humanity beyond the solar system are discussed in this interview with Phillip Adams.  Available at:  https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/interstellar-travel/10281362

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