When Time Flows Backwards


Gefaltete Raumzeit, Bild: wikimedia.org/CC-BY-SA-2.5
New experiments conducted at Washington University St. Louis offer a further demonstration of one of the quantum world’s more difficult implications: time symmetry. That is, as shown by the physicist Kater Murch and his group, the future influences the present. What might be done to a particle five minutes from now helps determine what happened to the particle five minutes ago.


By Michael Byrne|MOTHERBOARD

We are doomed to time because of organization. We have pasts, which are just spaces of non-possibility. The past for us is a fixed guideway, a steady elimination of options culminating in this here—and this now. And this forward-universe seems like a reasonable thing, if anxiety-inducing.

In the Grand Central Terminal of everything, we’ve stood at the departures board and made a selection, boarded a train, and here we are on an express to Newbury (or wherever). We’ve left every other train and destination behind, and those trains have all themselves left, and you aren’t on any of them. Their destinations are unavailable.

Why should it be so? Well, causality for one. We’re strung along in a generally forward direction by things occurring that cause other things to happen or cause other things to be much more likely to happen. It would seem that the alternative is for nothing to ever happen at all, leaving us to just stand there staring at the departures board, never choosing but never really happening either.

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