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Tim Maudlin: Defending a “homey and unfashionable ” view of time

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From George Musser at Nautilus:

It has a built-in arrow. It is fundamental rather than derived from some deeper reality. Change is real, as opposed to an illusion or an artifact of perspective. The laws of physics act within time to generate each moment. Mixing mathematics, physics and philosophy, Maudlin bats away the reasons that scientists and philosophers commonly give for denying this folk wisdom.

The mathematical arguments are the target of his current project, the second volume of New Foundations for Physical Geometry (the first appeared in 2014). Modern physics, he argues, conceptualizes time in essentially the same way as space. Space, as we commonly understand it, has no innate direction — it is isotropic. When we apply spatial intuitions to time, we unwittingly assume that time has no intrinsic direction, either. New Foundations rethinks topology in a way that allows for a clearer distinction between time and space. Conventionally, topology — the first level of geometrical structure — is defined using open sets, which describe the neighborhood of a point in space or time. “Open” means a region has no sharp edge; every point in the set is surrounded by other points in the same set.

Maudlin proposes instead to base topology on lines. He sees this as closer to our everyday geometrical intuitions, which are formed by thinking about motion. More.

Is the assertion that time might have an intrinsic direction a design inference?

Note: The image above represents the first edition.

See also: Arrow of time points to missing dark matter

Cosmologist tells us how time got its arrow Something is wrong here. Just recording, just recording…

Studying time’s arrow with philosophers

Did time’s arrow originate in a quantum source?

and

The bill arrives for cosmology’s free lunch

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2 Replies to “Tim Maudlin: Defending a “homey and unfashionable ” view of time

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    With volume 2 to follow. It looks like a good read.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    News, I think the key point is that time is inextricably linked to causal succession. This is why I now often speak of a temporal-causal order. We have and may readily locally observe a now state (n), which is in the process of being succeeded by the next now (n+1), through causal processes. Such processes have dynamics and so time emerges as change accumulates, with a rate that depends on relevant dynamics. Also, the actual past is ever growing as the succession of such transformations accumulates. We may clock this by use of metrics that credibly move at reasonably uniform rates, Earth’s rotation, a swinging controlled pendulum [grandfather clock], an arrangement of springs, gears etc, now, crystal controlled oscillators and more sophisticated atomic devices, etc. Along the way time’s arrow emerges through entropy, as there is a progressive degradation of energy. We can extend this pattern to describing the observed cosmos, from the big bang forward, etc. KF

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