Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time

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9780195100952: Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time

Why is the future so different from the past? Why does the past affect the future and not the other way around? What does quantum mechanics really tell us about the world? In this important and accessible book, Huw Price throws fascinating new light on some of the great mysteries of modern physics, and connects them in a wholly original way.
Price begins with the mystery of the arrow of time. Why, for example, does disorder always increase, as required by the second law of thermodynamics? Price shows that, for over a century, most physicists have thought about these problems the wrong way. Misled by the human perspective from within time, which distorts and exaggerates the differences between past and future, they have fallen victim to what Price calls the "double standard fallacy": proposed explanations of the difference between the past and the future turn out to rely on a difference which has been slipped in at the beginning, when the physicists themselves treat the past and future in different ways. To avoid this fallacy, Price argues, we need to overcome our natural tendency to think about the past and the future differently. We need to imagine a point outside time -- an Archimedean "view from nowhen" -- from which to observe time in an unbiased way.
Offering a lively criticism of many major modern physicists, including Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking, Price shows that this fallacy remains common in physics today -- for example, when contemporary cosmologists theorize about the eventual fate of the universe. The "big bang" theory normally assumes that the beginning and end of the universe will be very different. But if we are to avoid the double standard fallacy, we need to consider time symmetrically, and take seriously the possibility that the arrow of time may reverse when the universe recollapses into a "big crunch."
Price then turns to the greatest mystery of modern physics, the meaning of quantum theory. He argues that in missing the Archimedean viewpoint, modern physics has missed a radical and attractive solution to many of the apparent paradoxes of quantum physics. Many consequences of quantum theory appear counterintuitive, such as Schrodinger's Cat, whose condition seems undetermined until observed, and Bell's Theorem, which suggests a spooky "nonlocality," where events happening simultaneously in different places seem to affect each other directly. Price shows that these paradoxes can be avoided by allowing that at the quantum level the future does, indeed, affect the past. This demystifies nonlocality, and supports Einstein's unpopular intuition that quantum theory describes an objective world, existing independently of human observers: the Cat is alive or dead, even when nobody looks. So interpreted, Price argues, quantum mechanics is simply the kind of theory we ought to have expected in microphysics -- from the symmetric standpoint.
Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point presents an innovative and controversial view of time and contemporary physics. In this exciting book, Price urges physicists, philosophers, and anyone who has ever pondered the mysteries of time to look at the world from the fresh perspective of Archimedes' Point and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, the universe around us, and our own place in time.

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Huw Price is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Facts and the Function of Truth (1988) and a wide range of articles in leading journals such as The Journal of Philosophy, Mind, and Nature.

Review:


"Particularly illuminating in that Price shows how philosophers and physicists have failed to see temporal symmetries because of the influence of their own temporally asymmetric perspective.... A real advance in the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Not only philosophy of science but theoretical physicists should be excited about by this lovely book."--J.J.C. Smart, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University


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Descripción Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 1996. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. New.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The arrow of time and the meaning of quantum mechanics are two of the great mysteries of modern physics. This important book - written for non-specialist readers, as well as physicists and philosophers - throws a fascinating new light on both issues, and connects them in a wholly original way. In considering attempts to understand the arrow of time in physics, Huw Price shows that for over a century physicists have fallen repeatedly for the same trap: treating the past and future in different ways. To overcome this natural tendency, we need to imagine a point outside time - an Archimedean viewpoint, as Price calls it - from which to think about the arrow of time in an unbiased way. Taking this Archimedean viewpoint, Price asks why we assume that the past affects the future but not vice versa, and argues that causation is much more symmetric in microphysics: to a limited extent, the future does affect the past. Thus he avoids the usual paradoxes of quantum mechanics, without succumbing to the rival paradoxes of causal loops and time travel. Nº de ref. de la librería BTE9780195100952

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