New Quantum Theory Could Explain the Flow of Time
Cups of coffee cool, buildings crumble and stars fizzle out, physicists say, because of a strange quantum effect called “entanglement.” Photo: Stacy/Flickr Coffee cools, buildings crumble, eggs break and stars fizzle out in a universe that seems destined to degrade into a state of uniform drabness known as thermal equilibrium. The astronomer-philosopher Sir Arthur Eddington in 1927 cited the gradual dispersal of energy as evidence of an irreversible “arrow of time.” But to the bafflement of generations of physicists, the arrow of time does not seem to follow from the underlying laws of physics, which work the same going forward in time as in reverse. By those laws, it seemed that if someone knew the paths of all the particles in the universe and flipped them around, energy would accumulate rather than disperse: Tepid coffee would spontaneously heat up, buildings would rise from their rubble and sunlight would slink back into the sun. “I was darn close to driving a taxicab,” Lloyd said.
Related: Fundamental Physics
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