The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Time: When?

On closer inspection, the main subject of Thermodynamics, Relativity and Quantum theories may well be Time.  Most of the bizarre implications of those theories are things that either happen "in time" or are caused by Time.

Boltzmann interpreted the second law of Thermodynamics (that entropy can never decrease) as basically a definition of time, and, de facto, an unmasking of “time” as an illusion of being alive in a particular time and place. Boltzmann reasoned that the illusion of time is due to the processes of change that we observe. Those processes (especially the most visible ones, such as decay) are driven by the second law of Thermodynamics, which he had proved to be a statistical law of transition from less probable states to more probable states. Thus a living being “feels” the flow of time only because it lives in a world that is transitioning from a less probable state to a more probable state. If life is possible in states of absolute equilibrium, then those living beings would not perceive any flow of time.

Relativity turned Time into one of several dimensions, mildly different from the others but basically very similar to the others. This clearly contrasts with our perception of Time as being utterly distinct from space. Hawking, for example, thinks that originally Time may have just been a fourth spatial dimension, then gradually morphed into a different type of dimension and, at the Big Bang, it became Time as we know it today.

The mathematician Hermann Bondi has argued that the roles of Time are utterly different in a deterministic and in a non-deterministic universe. Whereas in a deterministic universe, Time is a mere coordinate, in a universe characterized by indeterminacy, such as one governed by Quantum Theory, the passage of time transforms probabilities into actualities, possibility into reality. If Time did not flow, nothing would ever be. Things would be trapped in the limbo of wave functions.

The Australian physicist Paul Davies claims exactly the opposite: Time is rather meaningless in the context of a quantum model of the universe, because a general quantum state of the universe has no well-defined time. With Hawking, Time may not have existed before the Big Bang, and may have originated afterwards by mere accident.

 


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