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Science has a habit of asking stupid questions. Stupid, that is, by the standards of common sense. But time and time again we have found that common sense is a poor guide to what really goes on in the world.
So if your response to the question “Why does time always go forwards, not backwards?” is that this is a daft thing to ask, just be patient.
Surely we can just say that the future does not affect the past because (duh!) it has not happened yet? Not really, for the question of where time’s arrow comes from is more subtle and complicated than it seems.
What’s more, that statement might not even be true. Some scientists and philosophers think the future might indeed affect the past – although we would only find out when the future arrives. And it may be able to due to an emergent property of quantum mechanics.
A friend of mine recommended to me a fairly new podcast that has an essential “Who’s Who” of current interesting thinkers. In turn, I’d like to recommend to you the same. It is called “It’s All Happening”and can be found here.
The interview list is very impressive and the style is very conversational. I haven’t heard one of these that didn’t keep me absorbed all the way through. Here are some of the outstanding guests:
The podcast is run by Zach Leary.
Lanza’s work is an easy-to-understand look at issues in contemporary understandings of consciousness and reality. In it, he creates a post-quantum mechanics narrative that is heavily influenced by the ideas of Immanuel Kant (whom I don’t think he ever mentions). He strings together ideas in a cogent series of seven principles that read a bit like a proof. It is a great introduction to complex matters that come from the pen of someone who seems pretty good at simplifying items for the sake of readability.
For brevity I’ll compress his 7 principles. In short, our notion of reality always requires an observer and is created by how we have translated the input from our senses. What we view as “red” is actually just waves “out there” until they hit our optic nerve and are converted in our brains to the specific color. Waves exist outside of us but colors only exist in the human mind. This is very straightforward and non-controversial. The same is true of space and time – these categories of perception are not things in themselves but are overlays of the human mind on stimuli from the outside. When we look at the world of quantum mechanics, our brains and categories are faced with findings that are counter-intuitive so are very strange. As a side note, Max Tegmark discusses this point brilliantly in his interview on the Sam Harris podcast athttp://www.samharris.org/podcast/item…. Faced with the issue that we co-create reality based on stimuli from the outside world, Lanza leads to the reasonable conclusion that consciousness and awareness are the center of our view of the galaxy.
For those with a background in philosophy and consciousness studies, I’m not sure there will be anything real new here however it is a clear and concise read on the issues of the day.