I’m reading my way through Carlo Rovelli’s “The Order of Time” (Finished Part 1 of 3) and finding it full of items that resonate. Not least because I already loved his “Reality is Not What it Seems” but also because I have been joining up the dots with the work of David Deutsch and Erik Verlinde , physicists in competing fields but with near-total common metaphysical ground. Post-post-modernism.
Even incidental items intrigue. For example:
I think we maybe all knew that Einstein was working in the Swiss patent office at the time his space-time relativity thinking was emerging. I think it’s also pretty common knowledge that the setting of standard time in everyday life was very much driven by (rail) transport operations needing to sync up the meaning of running on time. How hadn’t I noticed that Einstein had been working on patents for synchronised timekeeping of railway clocks? Doh!
I think I already knew Leibni(t)z was spelled without a “t”. How did I not know he had dropped it deliberately in protest at Newton introducing disembodied time into his equations of motion?
We knew Gödel had been Einstein’s closest friend in the last years of his life at Princeton – there’s even a new book on exactly that – and much of it figures in Rebecca Goldstein’s work on Gödel as well as in works by others. What I hadn’t realised was that Gödel was the first to recognise the possibility of closed-loop trajectories in space-time – where effect can, in some real sense, precede cause.
But those are not the important content, these are:
Real things are not absolute things, in fact there are few if any absolute things. Not even laws of physics can be fundamentally fixed everywhere. Everything is relative and our understanding local.
If we really are to understand space-time we need to think in terms of fluid streams of events and not persistent things.
It is a Netwonian error to think of things contained in space (or time). Spacetime is an integral part of all things.
Spacetime is therefore more fundamentally quantised than either matter or energy. The Planck-scale exists in both space and time.
The most fundamental property of quantised stuff is Information or its complement (or should that be its conjugate), Entropy. [Post Note: Important to note, after Alan Rayner, that these quanta are NOT in any sense building-blocks, they are simply the smallest resolution at which we can know about fluid patterns of space-time.]
The flow of time is our local impression of histories of entropy. There is no general or absolute sense in which the flow of time is always towards increasing entropy, simply the experience of a long-term trend.
At black hole horizons time stands still, events stop flowing, nothing happens, nothing exists. (See closest spacing of “bits” on horizons in previous post.)
I’ll be back.
I read it to completion last night. Excellent stuff: grammar and even love. We really are all post-post-modernists now, even physicists. (Will need to cosnstruct a review of key learnings.)
Also published on Medium.