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Previous Programs

2018 Agency in the Physical World
2018 Awardees

2016 Physics of the Observer
2016 Awardees

2015 The Physics of What Happens
2015 Awardees

2013 Physics of Information
2013 Awardees

2010 The Nature of Time
2010 Awardees

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2008 Awardees

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2006 Awardees

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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