I Time is Fundamental?

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In Smolin peer reviewed papers, he proposed time was fundamental. The ideas were summarized briefly in his new book "Einstein's Unfinished Revolution. He wrote that "If time is more fundamental than space, then during the primordial stage, in which space is dissolved into a network of relations, time is global and universal".

Does it mean the time we have now is geometric time? Is there no way to recover the fundamental time? Perhaps geometric time (from spacetime) is time from quantum processes? When we feel the passage of it. Is it geometric or fundamental time? How do you understand it and what reasons do you have for and against the concept?

A brief excerpt to give you the basic idea:

This is as far as principles take us. The next step is to frame hypotheses. I propose three hypotheses about what lies beyond spacetime and beyond the quantum:

Time, in the sense of causation, is fundamental. This means the process by which future events are produced from present events, called causation, is fundamental.

Time is irreversible. The process by which future events are created from present events can’t go backward. Once an event has happened, it can’t be made to un-happen.*

Space is emergent. There is no space, fundamentally. There are events and they cause other events, so there are causal relations. These events make up a network of relationships. Space arises as a coarse-grained and approximate description of the network of relationships between events.

This means that locality is emergent. Nonlocality must then also be emergent.

If locality is not absolute, if it is the contingent result of dynamics, it will have defects and exceptions. And indeed, this appears to be the case: how else are we to understand quantum nonlocality, particularly nonlocal entanglement? These, I would hypothesize, are remnants of the spaceless relations inherent in the primordial stage, before space emerges. Thus, by positing that space is emergent we gain a possibility of explaining quantum nonlocality as a consequence of defects which arise in that emergence.

The combination of a fundamental time and an emergent space implies that there may be a fundamental simultaneity. At a deeper level, in which space disappears but time persists, a universal meaning can be given to the concept of now. If time is more fundamental than space, then during the primordial stage, in which space is dissolved into a network of relations, time is global and universal. Relationalism, in the form in which time is real and space is emergent, is the resolution of the conflict between realism and relativity.

Let’s give a name to this version of relationalism, which emphasizes the reality and irreversibility of time and the fundamentality of the flow of present moments. Let’s call it temporal relationalism. We can contrast it with eternalist relationalism, which investigates the hypothesis that space is fundamental, but time is emergent.
 

.Scott

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There's some terminology that needs explicit addressing.
He is saying that space can be modeled from the Physical laws - for example, those governing the interaction of particles. And thus it is "emergent" to the exclusion of being "fundamental". And then he specifically focuses on locality.

On the other hand, he is describing time:
Time is irreversible. The process by which future events are created from present events can’t go backward. Once an event has happened, it can’t be made to un-happen.*
Well, those are attributes of time which are just as "emergent" as the characteristics of space. So is it possible to described time without including characteristics that are emergent from entropy? If it is, then you could call that basic kernel of time to be fundamental. But then could something similar be done with space?

It can be very purposeful to create new models that allow you to described Physics with new terms that highlight different Physical characteristic - like taking the Fourier Transform of an image or considering a holographic representation of the universe. But it is not purposeful to claim that one interpretation is more real then the others. In all cases they are human constructs that we use to as tools to build the science.
 
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In Smolin peer reviewed papers, he proposed time was fundamental.
Does Smolin propose any experiments or thoughts on how to test this, @jlcd?
 

Fra

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I actually havent read his new book, but i read most of his other books. And there has been a reasoning common to all his books, and I suspect the basic arguments in the new book is the same:

Generally time is a way to parameterize evolution of states.

1) If evolution can be described by deterministic eternal laws, then time is merely a parameterization along the history, that is not more fundamental then the choice of initial conditions. And the state at each instant of time contains the same information. This is the where where time is not fundamental. Instead in this view what one considers to be the physics is the equivalence classes of histories. Ie the observer is in principle reduced to a gauge choice.

2) In the case where evolution is NOT described by deterministic evolution of eternal laws, then the time has a different meaning, it is more a fundamental progress indicator of the indeterministic evolution and development. A bit like cosmological time. Here states at different times does not encode the same information. Evolution can increase information as in evolutionary learning, or lossy as in entropic flows.

Smolin calls (1) the newtonian schema and he has lengty explanations and examples of both the power and the problem of this. (1) is the current paradigm on which the standardmodel rests and as Smoling argues if you analyse it you should understand why it is rational and valid only in the case of small subsystems, thus its power to particle physics is expected. The problem is that one must understand exactly why this paradigm breaks down for cosmological models, QG etc.

I would say that this discussion about nature of time, is deeply related to the nature of physical law. And when you start putting physical law into the perspective of predictive inference, you can appreciate the discussion better i think.

The correspondence is loosely
"time fundamental" -> physical law is not eternal fixed, but evolving; and time parameterises this.
physical law is eternal timeless -> time is just an arbitrary parameterer along deterministic histories.

As small subsystems, can be experimented on, repetadly, and what is going on there has almsot no coupling to cosmological scale things, you can almost sure that you can fine stable persistent physical law for this (relative to universe) short time scale phenomena. You can extract mathematical patterns here that are immutable.

But such an inference method, simply does not work for
- cosmology
- the imaginary case where you consider the observer shriking down to microscale, ie primordal observers during big bang (ie trying to understand unification)

/Fredrik
 
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Fra

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Does Smolin propose any experiments or thoughts on how to test this, @jlcd?
Long time ago in order to illustrate that the idea at least in principle can lead to predictions, and thus be testable, he has the argumetns of cosmological natural selection and argued towards as limit on neutron stars to 2 solar masses, this was in order to make sure the universe was evolved for BH production and thus giving birth to new universes, and the idea is taht during each big band, the parameters of physical laws mutate.

/Fredrik
 
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cosmological natural selection
Thanks @Fra, I'll look into this a bit more, because my first thought on a quick read of the concept was "wishful thinking" (or perhaps Iain M. Banks level science fiction) rather than anything testable.
 

Fra

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Thanks @Fra, I'll look into this a bit more, because my first thought on a quick read of the concept was "wishful thinking" (or perhaps Iain M. Banks level science fiction) rather than anything testable.
It not wishful thinking. It builds on a deep insight but of course the research program has its challenges as does others.

So far smolin offers no explicit solutions, only hints. He merely rightfully tries to change focus to traits of current paradigms that are in need of revision. But what he suggests is on direct conflict to how many scientists learned to think and what has indeed worked well so far.

/Fredrik
 

Fra

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In fact a case could be made that its eternal laws that is wishful thinking. The extrapolation of metohd from small subsystem to cosmology is arged to be the "cosmological fallacy" by Smolin. Google it and you find plenty. If ypu read any of his other recent books you would be famiöiat with the arguments alredy.

/Fredrik
 
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I actually havent read his new book, but i read most of his other books. And there has been a reasoning common to all his books, and I suspect the basic arguments in the new book is the same:

Generally time is a way to parameterize evolution of states.

1) If evolution can be described by deterministic eternal laws, then time is merely a parameterization along the history, that is not more fundamental then the choice of initial conditions. And the state at each instant of time contains the same information. This is the where where time is not fundamental. Instead in this view what one considers to be the physics is the equivalence classes of histories. Ie the observer is in principle reduced to a gauge choice.

2) In the case where evolution is NOT described by deterministic evolution of eternal laws, then the time has a different meaning, it is more a fundamental progress indicator of the indeterministic evolution and development. A bit like cosmological time. Here states at different times does not encode the same information. Evolution can increase information as in evolutionary learning, or lossy as in entropic flows.

Smolin calls (1) the newtonian schema and he has lengty explanations and examples of both the power and the problem of this. (1) is the current paradigm on which the standardmodel rests and as Smoling argues if you analyse it you should understand why it is rational and valid only in the case of small subsystems, thus its power to particle physics is expected. The problem is that one must understand exactly why this paradigm breaks down for cosmological models, QG etc.

I would say that this discussion about nature of time, is deeply related to the nature of physical law. And when you start putting physical law into the perspective of predictive inference, you can appreciate the discussion better i think.

The correspondence is loosely
"time fundamental" -> physical law is not eternal fixed, but evolving; and time parameterises this.
physical law is eternal timeless -> time is just an arbitrary parameterer along deterministic histories.

As small subsystems, can be experimented on, repetadly, and what is going on there has almsot no coupling to cosmological scale things, you can almost sure that you can fine stable persistent physical law for this (relative to universe) short time scale phenomena. You can extract mathematical patterns here that are immutable.

But such an inference method, simply does not work for
- cosmology
- the imaginary case where you consider the observer shriking down to microscale, ie primordal observers during big bang (ie trying to understand unification)

/Fredrik
Why did Smolin think time is fundamental if laws evolve?

How about variable laws, does it need fundamental time?

In Smolin latest book and papers. It's not about them but to create a background independent quantum theory. Just to introduce it (you must read the book):

"RELATIONAL HIDDEN VARIABLES

We thus seek a completion of quantum mechanics which is background independent and relational, and which is framed in a world where time is fundamental and space is emergent. If it involves hidden variables, these must express relations between particles. Thus, the hidden variables do not give us a more complete description of an individual electron; they must describe relations which hold between one electron and other electrons. We can call these relational hidden variables.

Indeed, what is more relational than the deepest and subtlest of the quantum mysteries, which is entanglement? A relational formulation of quantum physics will start by putting entanglement first. If, as we hypothesized, space is emergent, distance in space must be derivative of more fundamental relations. Perhaps this more fundamental relation, from which space emerges, is entanglement.*"

His main ideas (in the Background Indepdent section) are simply:

"We then seek to complete quantum theory by eliminating background structures. We do this by exposing and then unfreezing the background and giving it dynamics. In other words, rather than quantizing gravity we seek to gravitize the quantum. We mean by that the process of identifying and unfreezing those aspects of quantum theory which are arbitrary and fixed, making them subject to dynamical laws. Turning this around, we hope to understand the challenging features of quantum physics as consequences of separating the universe into two parts: the system we observe, and the rest, containing the observer and their measuring instruments.

Closely related to background independence is another key idea: that the observables of physical theories should describe relationships."

Questions.

1. Smolin seeks a completion of quantum mechanics which is background independent and relational, and which is framed in a world where time is fundamental and space is emergent. Can't you make a completion of quantum mechanics where time and space is relative (as is) or emergent? What would happen?

2. Can you list other researchers who propose similar ideas about completion of quantum mechanics by including spacetime? Focusing on QM only in the foundational problem of matter may be kinda tunnel vision. I want to think in terms of both QM and spacetime together.

3. The best theories would be spacetime and the quantum (matter) being emergent. This has more flexibilites and more degrees of freedom. Who are the researchers who propose this? How is the progress?

(Tghu verd. Ill look into it)
 

Fra

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I can not speak for Smolin, because while i share important traits of his reasoning. My reasoning have components that he currently does not express: this is the information processing agents. Smolins reasoning at times tangented to this however, especially his ideas of prescedence. But some of the things in Smolins papers that i personally found the MOST interesting, is also things that i have not seen him develop. The bulk of this papers seem to still communicate the general ideas (which are clear enough to me by now, i do not need to hear them again) because to most people its a changing of thinking required to understand and appreciated.

This is also very difficult to explain, as the ultimate argument is "showing that this solves the open problems". Until then, its all about what reasoning you believe in or adhere to. For the same reasons I will never make sense of the logic behind string theory program. They have to proved me wrong the hard way, and i suspect that day isnt going to come though.

I do not maintain a list, but there are people that work on the idea "physics from inference", like Ariel Caticha to mention one. But there are many WAYS to do this, there are many types of inference, and you can apply it to physics at different levels. What I think is the best way is not popular it seems, i am not aware of one that does it, but then i do not read everything.

I have several objections to some of the existing "physics from inference" programs, one objection is the careless introduction of real numbers to hold the "degree of beliefe". Second objection is that some seek a objective probabilistic flow, which i think isnt going to work. I am convinced that the interactions are to be explained exactly by the DIFFERENCES between subjective views. But this unavoidable leads into a evolutionary perspective, which makes this more complex, because how the heck are you supposed to make sometihng out of that? ie how to you simulate or emulate evolution? All the porblems here is why lots of people just dont see any hope in these views - it seems to them a random subjective soup! As far from science as you can get. Of course i think otherwise.

I agree with (3) - space time and matter must emerge together; simply beacuse matter constitutes the background to quantum theory; and thus it must be relational, but how? In my perspective observers are central and associated to matter and this encodes also the inference system of the material observers, and relaxing the background means acknowledging this and that observers are subject evolution, and that the universer is populated by different observers. This is sort of consistent which smolins evolution of law, but it is not as he put is, so i do not know what he really things of this. OTOH, I have not seen much explicit ideas from smolin. My ideas are more explicit, but complicate to work out, and for me its a hobby, thus my progress is correspondingly slower.

Trying to explain more than this will quickly diverge beyond whats allowed here.

/Fredrik
 
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But this unavoidable leads into a evolutionary perspective, which makes this more complex, because how the heck are you supposed to make sometihng out of that? ie how to you simulate or emulate evolution?
Indeed. That is my 'wishful thinking' aspect, @Fra. Hopefully, quantised gravity resolves this, because as it stands, these ideas look like a belief system to me, rather than physics!
 

Fra

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You are in good company with your scepsism no doubt.

However the process towards new corroborated theories is not a deductive process.

The evolutionary picture is arrived at by careful considerations, not because it is easy wishful thinking.

Of course i have ideas on how to tame this, that explains my confidence in this soup. It would be foolish to not test a good idea.

/Fredrik
 
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You are in good company with your scepsism no doubt.

However the process towards new corroborated theories is not a deductive process.

The evolutionary picture is arrived at by careful considerations, not because it is easy wishful thinking.

Of course i have ideas on how to tame this, that explains my confidence in this soup. It would be foolish to not test a good idea.

/Fredrik
It would even be more foolish to not test a good data to arrive at the right theory.

Anyway. Something I need to know which I'm contemplating today.

Let's take case 1 and 2 from https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/fundamental-difference-interpretations-quantum-mechanics/

"1) The state is a tool that we use to predict the probabilities of different results for measurements we might choose to make of the system. Changes in the state represent changes in the predicted probabilities; for example, when we make a measurement and obtain a particular result, we update the state to reflect that observed result, so that our predictions of probabilities of future measurements change.

(2) The state describes the physically real state of the system; the state allows us to predict the probabilities of different results for measurements because it describes something physically real, and measurements do physically real things to it. Changes in the state represent physically real changes in the system; for example, when we make a measurement, the state of the measured system becomes entangled with the state of the measuring device, which is a physically real change in both of them."

The author further commented in the discussions.

"A better way of asking the question you might be trying to ask is, do people care about case 1 vs. case 2 because of the different ways the two cases suggest of looking for a more comprehensive theory of which our current QM would be a special case? The answer to that is yes; case 1 interpretations suggest different possibilities to pursue for a more comprehensive theory than case 2 interpretations do. Such a more comprehensive theory would indeed make different predictions from standard QM for some experiments. But the interpretations themselves are not the more comprehensive theories; they make the same predictions as standard QM, because they are standard QM, not some more comprehensive theory."

Reference https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/the-fundamental-difference-in-interpretations-of-quantum-mechanics-comments.936506/page-4

So one must draw the key distinction between interpretations of an existing theory, standard QM, and more comprehensive theories that include standard QM as a special case.

Can you give references (books papers etc) of what kind of comprehensive theories that depends on whether case 1 or 2 is true. Maybe they must be solved at the same time? Do you tend to believe more in case 1 or 2 and why in conjunction with any more comprehensive theory?
 
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Fra

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Easy: My perspective is that of case 1.

However that requires more qualification to make sense! Like what is the meaning of "we use to predict". What is "we' and what are the actual implications of "predictions'

For my own views "we" means an observer. But the observer is not a human of course. It is a physical system. Thus the state is about relational predictive inference.

The implications of "predictions" is thst it will give statistical expectations of observer actions.

Sounds easy but strange to get a grip om. If you take this seriously you immediatetly run into an evolutionary paradigm and many interesting things that indeed will deform QM with interesting spinoffs. The hard part is HOW to do this? Is there a way to get predictive boosts out of this framework?

I think yes. Those who thinks this looks like soup says no. Lets agree on that :)

/Fredrik
 
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Easy: My perspective is that of case 1.

However that requires more qualification to make sense! Like what is the meaning of "we use to predict". What is "we' and what are the actual implications of "predictions'

For my own views "we" means an observer. But the observer is not a human of course. It is a physical system. Thus the state is about relational predictive inference.

The implications of "predictions" is thst it will give statistical expectations of observer actions.

Sounds easy but strange to get a grip om. If you take this seriously you immediatetly run into an evolutionary paradigm and many interesting things that indeed will deform QM with interesting spinoffs. The hard part is HOW to do this? Is there a way to get predictive boosts out of this framework?

I think yes. Those who thinks this looks like soup says no. Lets agree on that :)

/Fredrik
Do you think Neumaier Thermal Interpretations fall under case 1 or case 2? I'm still trying to comprehend it. After half a decade. What have you understood about it? Can you summarize so we can determine if it's case 1 and case 2?

And most importantly whether its QM presentation can be made a special case of a more comprehensive theory. Smolin new quantum theory fall under this, where his QM is special case of his Loop Quantum Gravity.
 

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