Future; what future?

Continuing in the same meta-vein as the previous post from behind the great firewall, another tweeted link I had cached before I travelled to China.

This time it’s cosmologists talking about time, with a little help from a few philosophers. Dan Falk reporting from the recent Time in Cosmology conference in Waterloo, Canada.

You sense the real difference between the two camps. Those scientistic types who accept the so-called block model of space-time, where time is simply part of the physically symmetric whole, and any ideas of distinct past, now and future being merely our subjective illusions, and the rest. Those of us who accept the reality of time and causation – albeit a somewhat weird fit, given the otherwise incomplete but widely accepted standard models of physics. It’s the accepted standard models of cosmological inflation and particle physics that are unreal – they’re the models. Time is reality.

How people who believe in ethics and evolution or even history can claim with a straight face, that the progress of time is an illusion, beats me.

Good to see Unger & Smolin in there on the right side of the argument. No surprise either, to see Sean Carroll’s position being confused. But still too many relying on “but the maths works“. God help us. Hopefully someone learned something at the conference.

One thing I learned from the article is the alternative to entropy defining the direction of time’s arrow, is the idea that it’s defined by the progress towards increasing complexity – a real telos.

“defining an arrow of time that aligns itself with growth of complexity”
said Tim Koslowski

Something I recall Rick Ryals suggesting (?) in how the most efficient progress towards global entropic chaos and disorder was local pockets of increasingly complex and concentrated order.

An interesting must-read report. Recommended.

2 thoughts on “Future; what future?”

  1. Far from equilibrium dissipative structures and I think that this may be a clue:

    “As quantum mechanics, and any classical dynamical system, relies heavily on Hamiltonian mechanics for which time is reversible, these approximations are not intrinsically able to describe dissipative systems. It has been proposed that in principle, one can couple weakly the system – say, an oscillator – to a bath, i.e., an assembly of many oscillators in thermal equilibrium with a broad band spectrum, and trace (average) over the bath. This yields a master equation which is a special case of a more general setting called the Lindblad equation that is the quantum equivalent of the classical Liouville equation. The well known form of this equation and its quantum counterpart takes time as a reversible variable over which to integrate, but the very foundations of dissipative structures imposes an irreversible and constructive role for time.”

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