The Arrow of Time

Friday, February 19, 2010: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room 11B (San Diego Convention Center)
The arrow of time is one of the most unmistakable features of our physical, biological, and social universe. The fact that we remember the past but not the future, the increase of entropy in closed systems, the difference between the hot Big Bang and the cold empty fate of our universe, and the fact that we always die after we are born rather than before, are all evidence for a unique and consistent arrow of time. But the origin of time's arrow remains a mystery, and the way in which it connects the birth of the universe to our everyday lives as human beings is only gradually coming to light. In the 19th century, Ludwig Boltzmann explained the microscopic origins of entropy in the language of atoms; entropy increases because there are more ways to be high entropy than low entropy. But we don't know why the universe began in a low entropy state in the first place; this is a question at the forefront of cosmology and fundamental physics. Because we live in the aftermath of the low-entropy Big Bang, entropy is increasing all around us. The hot Sun in a cold sky keeps our environment far from equilibrium, driving large-scale biological evolution and our conscious perception of the flow of time. This symposium will bring these ideas together, to examine the arrow of time in fundamental physics and in our everyday lives.
Sean M. Carroll, California Institute of Technology
Sean M. Carroll, California Institute of Technology
Kathleen McDermott, Washington University
Remembering the Past and Envisioning the Future
Sean M. Carroll, California Institute of Technology
From the Cosmos to the Kitchen
Huw Price, University of Sydney
Time's Arrow and Eddington's Challenge
Anthony Leggett, University of Illinois
The Arrow of Time in Quantum Mechanics
Michael Lässig, University of Cologne
The Arrow of Time in Evolutionary Biology
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