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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Harrison Crecraft: on 2/26/20 at 17:51pm UTC, wrote Hi Lachlan, Thank you for your comment. In regard to Loschmidt’s...

Lachlan Cresswell: on 2/25/20 at 1:56am UTC, wrote Hi Harrison, Nice essay. The conflict between empirical irreversibility...

Harrison Crecraft: on 2/14/20 at 14:47pm UTC, wrote Thank you for your comments, Jonathan. I am in complete agreement that the...

Harrison Crecraft: on 2/14/20 at 14:37pm UTC, wrote Wow! Thank you Edwin. I'm glad you found some useful ideas. I look...

Jonathan Dickau: on 2/14/20 at 0:40am UTC, wrote We have a few points of agreement... I like to think of thermodynamic...

Edwin Klingman: on 2/13/20 at 22:51pm UTC, wrote Dear Harrison Crecraft, Thank you for an excellent essay. I believe that...

Harrison Crecraft: on 2/13/20 at 21:16pm UTC, wrote Thank you, Jos for the nice comments. I'm glad you looked at the arrow of...

Joseph Hoebe: on 2/13/20 at 15:16pm UTC, wrote Thank you. Very nice essay. The conclusion could be a bit more...


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FQXi FORUM
February 28, 2020

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: On the Decidability of Determinism and Time’s Arrow by Harrison Crecraft [refresh]
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Author Harrison Crecraft wrote on Feb. 13, 2020 @ 11:19 GMT
Essay Abstract

This essay’s contest description asks the question: Are there real consequences for physics — including quantum mechanics — of undecidability and non-computability? I conclude that the determinism and reversibility of physical reality is empirically undecidable. A conceptual model of physical reality, on the other hand, can logically decide the truth of fundamental determinism and reversibility, but only by assuming postulates that are, themselves, empirically unprovable. The prevailing conceptual models of physics assume that a system’s underlying (and unobservable) physical state is defined by perfect measurement, in the absence of thermal noise. Together with the deterministic laws of physics, this implies fundamental determinism and reversibility. The absence of thermal noise is an assumption based on extrapolation, however. It is not an observable fact. I consider an alternative conceptual model by defining perfect measurement from a system’s actual surroundings at a positive absolute temperature. This model, dissipative dynamics, implies fundamental randomness and irreversibility. Dissipative dynamics and the prevailing models are empirically consistent with observations, but consistency is not proof, and their contrasting interpretations clearly cannot both be true. The truth or falsity of a conceptual model cannot be decided by observations. The best we can do is to judge models by assessing the generality of their assumptions and on the reasonableness of their implications relative to observations. I argue that dissipative dynamics is more general, and its implications conform more directly to observations, compared to prevailing deterministic and reversible conceptual models.

Author Bio

Harrison Crecraft is retired from his career as a geologist and geochemist in the geothermal industry and geological consulting. He received his PhD in geology in 1984. At graduate school, he starting searching for foundational principles of physics to understand why open systems evolve toward greater organization and complexity. He pursued this side interest throughout his career and continues it into retirement.

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Joseph Maria Hoebe wrote on Feb. 13, 2020 @ 15:16 GMT
Thank you. Very nice essay.

The conclusion could be a bit more advantageous, as if you stopped because of just writing for the sake of the essay.

Since closed systems are conceptual systems, thermodynamics must be conceptual too. Hence the call for rewriting the concept on the base of interdependent systems.

I read also your essay "The Arrow of Functional Complexity".

I was pleasantly surprised by your models, cause they resembled, to me, something of one of my inventions. you can find it under:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339237504_Reciproca
l_Energy_Converting_System

all the best,

Jos Hoebe

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Author Harrison Crecraft replied on Feb. 13, 2020 @ 21:16 GMT
Thank you, Jos for the nice comments. I'm glad you looked at the arrow of functional complexity--figuring that out was my motivation for getting started on this venture many years (decades) ago. This contest and essay give me additional fodder for my argument on why we need to move beyond the Hamiltonian paradigm, which still has a hold over physics after nearly 200 years!

I looked at your Researchgate article. It looks interesting, but I need to spend more time on it to absorb it.

Best to you,

Harrison Crecraft

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 13, 2020 @ 22:51 GMT
Dear Harrison Crecraft,

Thank you for an excellent essay. I believe that your definitions of empirical versus conceptual models are superb, and I will probably quote you in my own essay, as they are extremely relevant to my topic.

I also found your treatment of Hamiltonian mechanics and thermodynamics quite interesting; my essay may have something to contribute to these arguments.

I very much appreciated your concluding analysis of Gödel's relevance to physical reality interpretations, which addresses the essay topic beautifully.

I wish you the best in this contest,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Harrison Crecraft replied on Feb. 14, 2020 @ 14:37 GMT
Wow! Thank you Edwin.

I'm glad you found some useful ideas.

I look forward to seeing your essay.

Harrison

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Feb. 14, 2020 @ 00:40 GMT
We have a few points of agreement...

I like to think of thermodynamic entropy in terms of spreading, which makes randomness an effect of entropy instead of its manifestation, but I guess you covered that in your Hamiltonian model discussion. As with Ed; I'm glad you worked that part up, to show things from a 'total energy' view.

A lot of people get hung up on Lagrangian analysis without ever realizing Hamiltonians are not just equivalent but sometimes advantageous to use. And I like the connection with MWI that implies, which explains some of the views of Dieter Zeh in decoherence theory. A different point of view from the norm though. Perhaps what is needed.

My research appears to show that we should view the entire universe as a dissipative system, rather than imagining all symmetries are absolute. I think what's real is global asymmetry with local symmetries that extend out to a very large neighborhood - perhaps the Hubble volume - but are ultimately broken and lead to a cold dark end, or a new cycle.

More later,

Jonathan

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Author Harrison Crecraft replied on Feb. 14, 2020 @ 14:47 GMT
Thank you for your comments, Jonathan.

I am in complete agreement that the universe is best modeled as a dissipative system. This is discussed in the two essays referenced. As noted in "time reinvented," implication #4, the declining ambient temperature of the universe, currently at 2.7 K, has significant implications on its evolution.

Harrison

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Lachlan Cresswell wrote on Feb. 25, 2020 @ 01:56 GMT
Hi Harrison,

Nice essay. The conflict between empirical irreversibility and physical reversibility as pertaining to the entropy and the arrow of time was studied by Josef Loschmidt and is known as Loschmidt’s paradox, which I cover in my essay. I believe this paradox can be used to show that wave particle duality is implausible. I think Maxwellian electromagnetic radiation is an example of the dissipative dynamical system you mention in your essay. I like the idea of a complex time embodying reference time, thermodynamic time and mechanical time. I argue elsewhere that the reference time is actually cosmological time.

All the best

Lachlan Cresswell

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Author Harrison Crecraft replied on Feb. 26, 2020 @ 17:51 GMT
Hi Lachlan,

Thank you for your comment. In regard to Loschmidt’s paradox, you ask in your essay “what breaks the time-reversibility of classical mechanics?” I agree that electromagnetic radiation is an important illustration of irreversibility. However, the mere asymmetry of electromagnetic propagation from a point source does not necessarily mean fundamental irreversibility.

The expansion of a gas into a vacuum is undeniably asymmetric in time, but most conceptual models of physics assume that it is reversible, in principle. If motions were reversed, expansion would reverse, and no laws of mechanics would be violated. It may be astronomically unlikely, and this breaks the symmetry of time, but whether it is fundamentally irreversible is a deeper question and one that is generally ignored.

Fundamental determinism and reversibility are deeply ingrained in conceptual models of physical reality, and it is rarely questioned. As I argue in my essay, however, fundamental determinism and reversibility are not empirically provable, and randomness and irreversibility are, in fact, compatible with observations and with the deterministic laws of physics. The reason is that determinism means a precise cause maps to a precise effect, but with fundamental randomness, there is no precise initial cause. Deterministic evolution of an initial cause or state with fundamental but empirically unresolvable randomness can be irreversibly amplified to macroscopically random outcomes.

Assuming fundamental determinism and reversibility requires extraordinary, and unnecessary, machinations to explain empirical irreversibility and the spontaneous organization of complexity within open systems (e.g. the origin and evolution of life). An absolute-zero ambient temperature is unobtainable, and the absence of fundamental thermal randomness assumed by most conceptual models of physics is an idealization that simply does not reflect physical reality.

Harrison Crecraft

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