Open Questions: Time Asymmetry (Time's Arrow)

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See also: Relativity and time

The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

Albert Einstein



Introduction

Time travel


Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books

Introduction



Recommended references: Web sites

Site indexes


Sites with general resources

Julian Barbour
Home page.


Surveys, overviews, tutorials

Arrow of time
Article from Wikipedia. See also T-symmetry.
Time Before Time
August 2006 article from Seed Magazine, by Sean Carroll, subtitled "An event like the Big Bang is about as likely as billions of coin tosses all coming up heads. Explaining why that is might take us from empty space to other universes--and through the mirror of time."


Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Does Time Run Backward in Other Universes?
Sean M. Carroll
Scientific American, May 2008
From Here to Eternity
Tim Folger
Discover, December 2000, pp. 54-61
British theoretical physicist Julian Barbour has been redeveloping fundamental concepts of physics to eliminate the notion of "time". The hope is that this may finally make possible to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity.


Recommended references: Books

Victor J. Stenger -- Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes
Prometheus Books, 2000
The dominant subject of Stenger's book is time. He argues that time symmetry is real, and that the "arrow of time" is largely an illusion. But in the process, he touches on a number of other issues in physics and cosmology: quantum theory, symmetry in general, particles and fields, and multiple universes.
Julian Barbour -- The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics
Oxford University Press, 1999
Perhaps the problem of the "arrow of time" is just an illusion because time itself is neither a useful nor a necessary concept in physics. Barbour's book is an extended argument that this is the case, and an explanation of how physics can do without the concept of time.
L. S. Schulman -- Time's Arrows and Quantum Measurement
Cambridge University Press, 1997
A fairly advanced treatment that considers the thermodynamic and cosmological arrows of time as a basis for a quantum measurement theory of time.
Huw Price -- Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point: New Directions for the Physics of Time
Oxford University Press, 1996
A philosopher's perspective on many topics in the physics of time. The various "arrows" which seem to establish an assymmetry in time are considered, with particular attention to cosmology and quantum theory.
Paul Davies -- About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution
Simon & Schuster, 1995
Nontechnical with emphasis on relativity, black holes, quantum mechanics, and the possibility of time travel.
Steven F. Savitt (ed.) -- Time's Arrows Today: Recent Physical and Philosophical Work on the Direction of Time
Cambridge University Press, 1995
Collection of technical but mostly non-mathematical papers in the areas of cosmology, quantum theory, thermodynamics, and time travel. One of the better references on the subject.
J. J. Halliwell, J. Pérez-Mercader, W. H. Zurek (eds.) -- Physical Origins of Time Asymmetry
Cambridge University Press, 1994
Large collection of papers, some rather technical and mathematical. Topics include computation, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, cosmology, and gravitational physics.
Peter Coveney, Roger Highfield -- The Arrow of Time
Fawcette Columbine, 1990
A nontechnical exposition that concentrates on thermodynamics, with biological applications. Also brings in some "chaos" theory.
Paul Halpern -- Time Journeys: A Search for Cosmic Destiny and Meaning
McGraw-Hill, 1990
Brief, popular treatment with some physics but overall emphasis on philosophical aspects.
Paul Horwich -- Asymmetries in Time: Problems in the Philosophy of Science
MIT Press, 1987
Emphasis is more on philosophical issues like knowledge and causation than the scientific ones, but still a relevant work.
Raymond Flood, Michael Lockwood (eds.) -- The Nature of Time
Basil Blackwell, 1986
Collection of essays by eminent scientists and philosophers, mostly technical but non-mathematical. Topics include relativity, black holes, cosmology, theormodynamics, and quantum mechanics.
Richard Morris -- Time's Arrows: Scientific Attitudes Toward Time
Simon and Schuster, 1985
Competent popular account of the basic scientific issues.
G. J. Whitrow -- The Natural Philosophy of Time
Oxford University Press, 1980
And in-depth philosophical analysis of time that considers human and biological time as well as time in the mathematical, relativistic, and cosmological perspectives.
P. C. W. Davies -- The Physics of Time Asymmetry
University of California Press, 1976
Somewhat technical account that focuses on thermodynamics, cosmology, electromagnetic theory, and quantum mechanics.

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