Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Atoms, Void & Time Reversability

  1. Aug 6, 2006 #1
    Victor Stenger has proposed a model of the universe consisting only of atoms, void and time reversability. I like this idea, partly because it's almost simple enough for me to understand. But I have a problem with it.

    He suggests that the universe can be explained as atoms and void, as per Democritus, with the introduction of time-reversability to account for nonlocal effects. The idea is this (in my words).

    Say A and B are entangled particles. Measuring the spin of A will instantaneously (from some perspective) correlate with an event at B. To explain this he introduces event C, intermediate between A and B but earlier in time. Thus, particle A emits a particle (or whatever) which travels backwards in time to C, where it interacts with a particle, emitting a particle which travels forward in time to B, arriving at the moment we make the measurement on A.

    This mechanism, he says, if I understand him properly, which is unlikely, would account for all the results from QM, meaning that the universe can be explained by just atoms, void and time reversability.

    However, I have difficulty understanding how a signal can find its way from A to B via C without knowing where it's going when it sets out. Could somebody clarify this issues for me?

    His site is here http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/index.html [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2006 #2
    I followed that link. Apart from determining that Stenger is a devout Atheist, I could not see the information you referred to. Do you have a direct link to the article?
  4. Aug 17, 2006 #3
    I think I heard of this - isn't it one of those many QM 'interpretations'? Anyway, there can be no discussion here until someone links to a readable peer-reviewed paper or something - your link is to a commercial site and seems quite irrelevant.

    One problem with your semantics - your interpretation of whatever you read is wrong, there is certainly a lot more to the universe than just atoms.
  5. Aug 17, 2006 #4
    That idea sounds quite like Cramer's Translactional interpretation of quantum mechanics.

    www.npl.washington.edu/ti/[/URL] (his webpage)

    Physical Review D 22, 362-376 (1980),


    International Journal of Theoretical Physics 27, 227 (1988).

    The basic idea behind this interpretation is that quantum objects are particles but they exchange EM radition that travels both forward (so-called retarded waves) and backward (so-called advanced waves) in time. The idea is that this interaction can then explain the non-local nature of quantum mechanics and the weird behaviour of measurements. However, i think there are still problems with it, else it would be a great deal more famous that it is.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  6. Aug 20, 2006 #5
    Sorry but I don't have a link to a peer reviewed paper. Stenger's new book 'The Comprehensible Cosmos' (not yet available) introduces the ideas in depth but I've just picked up the main points from reviews etc. (one in New Scientist).

    He's suggesting that everything can be reduced to minimal physical entities and a void, and uses 'atoms' in Democritus's sense.

    MaverickMenzies - Yes, Stenger seems to be using the idea of advanced and retarded waves. I suppose it's just this I want to ask about.

    He explains a nonlocal correlation between two events by assuming a third event prior in time. If A and B are instantaneously correlated events then this would be explained by assuming a wave (or something) travels backwards in time to event C then forwards to event B, arriving at the precise moment that event A happens (which would be a measurement of spin or whatever).

    Yet I cannot see how this can work without assuming some sort of teleology at work. How does the wave emited as a result of event A know that it has to travel to event C, which is at a very precise time and place? I think I'm missing something here, but I don't know what it is.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook