Large Grants
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Previous Programs

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Sean Carroll
California Institute of Technology

Project Title

Why Agents Remember the Past and Affect the Future: The Past Hypothesis and the Emergence of Causality

Project Summary

Why do we think we can make a choice now that has an impact on what happens in the future, but not that we can similarly impact the past? This feature of cause and effect is one aspect of the arrow of time. Another aspect comes from thermodynamics: entropy, a measure of disorder, increases over time in isolated systems. In this proposal I will work to show that these features of time's arrow are intimately related: specifically, that we can affect the future but not the past precisely because entropy is higher toward the future.

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