Thermodynamics and the Arrow of Time

To say an ‘Arrow of Time’ is to say that time itself is linear and one-directional. In thermodynamics, the second law dictates that everything moves in one-direction from a state of order towards disorder and entropy is the statistical measurement of this asymmetry in an isolated system. The universe is, for instance, this isolated system and as a consequence it is impossible to reverse this arrow of time and travel backwards just as much as the continuity of disorder will never decrease. Newton’ equations and other laws in physics, however, can be reversed and thus this ‘order’ is arrived from a state of equilibrium as it moves forward toward disorder. Read More

Love: Time and Consciousness

According to Descartes, the behaviour of non-human animals are automaton and driven by physical responses. Humans have the cognitive capacity to experience the external world consciously, but there is a moment where – from a child who develops his automatic behavioural responses through social and environmental interaction in a determined landscape – transcends to form an ability to become self-aware, a mind now enabled with consciousness. Read More

Fractured Time and Quantum Mysteries

Whether we would like to admit it or not, I am confident that each of us has had a time-related encounter, perhaps minor in nature, where we experienced a future instant or event likely through a dream that publishes a moment in time coincidentally before it takes place. It almost feels holographic where an idea or event is actually encoded material captured and projected into patterns of pictorial experiences that often lack sequential plausibility, as though our aesthetic and linguistic limitations attempt to translate what we conceptually prohibit when conscious. Whilst it is easy to repudiate the experience as an isolated and perhaps even a negligible event or at polar opposite as divine providence, I sought to traverse this irrational landscape devoid of three-dimensional space and found myself compelled to the colossal subject of an infinite dimensional hypothesis of time, of cognition and the quantification of consciousness, and interconnectivity or entanglement theories. It has always been an intriguing thought for me to contemplate what the state of our physical universe would look like without an arrow of time and whether time dilation and the effect of motion could be taken to another level. What if there is a universe where effect precedes cause, or where we have memories of the future whilst the past remains elusive? What if a mirror universe existed from the Janus point where time fractured and split in two different directions, the one forward as we know it and the other backward? And finally, what if our universe was interacting with these extra dimensions where gravitational waves – if we could call it that – somehow transgresses quantum states and where communication between parallel worlds relative to our own experience of time and space somehow leaks and where inter-world exchange becomes possible?

Understanding the subatomic world is not without its weirdness and however vast the literature on the topic of cosmology, the reality is that we still do not know how the universe came to begin, despite the many various interpretations each with an astounding logic. But let us assume at this point that there is no known origin of the universe in physics because any attempt requires a fundamental understanding of space and time, knowledge that we simply do not have and so a study of ‘time’ before the universe cannot be implicitly understood. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume the universe simply came from some quantum origin where the initial conditions were right and focus on the astronomical plateau relative to our cognitive limitations. As said by Newton: “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”[1]

There has been some interesting discussions highlighting the possibility of inter-world exchange through energy coupling using quantum optical equipment[5] and with experimental results favouring the possibility that parallel universes could indeed exist. The experiment runs along the lines of isolating an ion molecule while forming two parallel worlds in another system through a quantum measurement, whereby the ion interaction should display excitation with only one, however, the idea is that through low bandwidth information [weak coupling] sent through the parallel reality, the ion’ excitation could be displayed in the other parallel world, becoming evidence for not just for the many worlds interpretation but also for communication between worlds. The properties that define these ‘worlds’ are connected and interact within an infinitely vast yet interstitial space that separates all the interactions.

Taking it up a notch is the inflationary model of the multiverse theory and whilst both theories have similarities, this multiverse model contains a different design, namely that pockets of multiple universes exist due to cosmological expansion. That is, the early universe contained a small Ø>=0 or ≥10-26 m patch [that is cH- whereby the age of the universe is more or less a calculation of the speed of light times the inverse of the Hubble constant] that expanded exponentially at a constant threshold through gravitational repulsion (Fv). 

It becomes slightly interesting when exploring the multiverse with string theory – the inflationary model recognises particles as quanta excitation of a field; a scalar field spins in all directions [that is, the field being at the lowest energy density where the particles within are the exited states; a false vacuum is the temporary state where the highest energy density is stuck and acts as a vacuum that cannot be lowered] – where we could visualise an interesting scene of these other pocket universes containing entirely different particles, fields and energy states. The string theory model purports that our universe is actually a three-brane – a brane being an object that allows multiple dimensions to exist within it [string theory of quantum gravity claims that particles as ‘strings’ of vibrating energy within ten spatial dimensions][6] – whilst we merely experience the three dimensions of space as it dominates the brane. While particles like quarks are attached to the dimensions that we experience, gravitons being closed strings cannot ‘attach’ and therefore gravity could leak off the 3-brane and travel to higher dimensions and thus travel through dimensions that we fail to experience. It could also explain dark matter and energy as well as why we experience weak gravity, but I don’t want to get carried away right now and will leave that for another post. What I do have in mind, however, is the relationship between gravity and time in relation to the 3-brane model considering that if an object moves away from the source of gravity at different rates, time moves faster depending on the gravitational field.

The fact is that there exists no applicable law in physics that requires the direction of time to move forward as we experience it. What we assume is that entropy is the cause of the arrow of time – the second law of thermodynamics – but we also know that the initial conditions of the early universe started off with very low entropy, which has stifled physicists and developed a plethora of various ideas that have yet to clearly describe temporal direction. Turning back to the inflationary model, there have been discussions raised by prominent physicists about the possibility of an inverse mirror of time where particles expand into two different directions similar to the parallel hypothesis of space. The Janus Point [the moment before expansion] as explained by Julian Barbour purports that the initial conditions of low entropy and the cosmic certainty of increasing entropy is not essentially required when discussing the arrow of time and that it is merely an inevitable product of physical laws.[7] 

He and his colleagues imply, unlike most cosmologists, that the arrow of time is centred on gravity rather than thermodynamics. Gravity is not just a force; when you think of floating through space, you think of the slowing of time just as you would its speed when you are freefalling 10,000 feet from the earth’s surface. Analysing the dynamical behaviour of particles through a computer simulation where particles interact through Newtonian gravity, the system showed that each particle would evolve toward maximum uniformity and the lowest distance between pairs before the force of gravity itself reaches a condition that refracts time into two different directions, both symmetrical but opposite viz., temporal arrows. That is, time moves in two directions but like Schrödinger’s Cat, the question is are we only able to experience one arrow of time or have we split into two possible dimensions where time moves backwards in one and the other forwards with two of ‘me’ experiencing one or the other?

[1] Isaac Newton, From Brewster, Memoirs of Newton (1855)
[2] Hugh Everett “Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics”. Reviews of Modern Physics, 29: 454–462 (1957)
[3] John Gribbin, In Search Of Schrodinger’s Cat , Random House (2003)
[4] R. Laurence Moore, Cosmogenesis: The Growth of Order in the Universe, Oxford University Press, (1991) 129
[5] R.Plaga, Proposal for an experimental test of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
[6] Michio Kaku, Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory, Springer Science & Business Media (1999) 463
[7] J. Barbour, T. Koslowski, and F. Mercati, A gravitational origin of the arrows of time