From the NYTBR review, it seems that Lee Smolin is aiming to stretch the boundaries of the orthodoxy of physics in his latest, Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe . He thinks that the present has been left out of a physics that works on the belief that the future is determined by the past. In place of Newtonian and later ideas, he proposes a notion of “real time.” The reviewer summarizes: “He goes on to propose a variety of revolutionary ideas to codify further his notion of ‘real time.’ In one, he suggests that every atom in the universe is causally connected to every other atom in the universe, no matter how many light-years away. According to his notion, the failure of standard quantum mechanics to predict the behavior of individual atoms arises from the fact that it does not take into account the vast numbers of interconnections extending across the universe. Furthermore, this picture of the cosmos requires an absolute time (in violation of relativity), which he calls ‘preferred global time.’” One is tempted to suggest that this picture of the cosmos requires a notion of eternity.

He also suggests something along the lines of Sheldrake’s notion that nature’s laws are “habits”: “the ‘principle of precedence,’ that repeated measurements of a particular phenomenon yield the same outcomes not because the phenomenon is subject to a law of nature but simply because the phenomenon has occurred in the past. ‘Such a principle,’ Smolin writes, ‘would explain all the instances in which determinism by laws work but without forbidding new measurements to yield new outcomes, not predictable from knowledge of the past.’ In Smolin’s view such unconstrained outcomes are necessary for ‘real’ time.”

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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