Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

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Kuznetzova
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Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by Kuznetzova » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:52 am

Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

http://streamer2.perimeterinstitute.ca/mp3/13040103.mp3

http://perimeterinstitute.ca/videos/time-reborn

I recommend the MP3 over the video and I will explain why. First, the website video streamer is messed up. Second, the material is so challenging, that listening to it in audio is easier than watching a person talk.

:idea:
What is time? Is our perception of time passing an illusion which hides a deeper, timeless reality? Or is it real, indeed, the most real aspect of our experience of the world? Einstein said that "the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion," and many contemporary theorists agree that time emerges from a more fundamental timeless quantum universe. But, in recent cosmological speculation, this timeless picture of nature seems to have reached a dead end, populated by infinite numbers of imagined unobservable universes.

In his talk, Lee Smolin explains why he changed his mind about the nature of time. Like many fellow theorists, he used to believe time is an illusion, but he now embraces the view that time is real and everything else, including the laws of nature, evolves. Drawing from his new book, Time Reborn, Smolin explains how the great unsolved problems in physics and cosmology may be solved by adopting the view of a real time. then he will go beyond physics to explain how our view of time affects how we think of everything from our personal and family lives to how we face major problems such as climate change and economic crisis. In a world in which time is real, the future is open and there is an essential role for human agency and imagination in envisioning and shaping a good future.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by YehYeh » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:18 pm

Kuznetzova wrote:In his talk, Lee Smolin explains why he changed his mind about the nature of time. Like many fellow theorists, he used to believe time is an illusion, but he now embraces the view that time is real and everything else, including the laws of nature, evolves. Drawing from his new book, Time Reborn, Smolin explains how the great unsolved problems in physics and cosmology may be solved by adopting the view of a real time. then he will go beyond physics to explain how our view of time affects how we think of everything from our personal and family lives to how we face major problems such as climate change and economic crisis. In a world in which time is real, the future is open and there is an essential role for human agency and imagination in envisioning and shaping a good future.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle of his book he says that he does not mean relativism but "relationalism". After that, that rest of his book is philosophically a lost cause.

By relationalism he means Leibniz's twist of Spinozan-Cartesian-Aristotelian relational theory of objects with the 'principle of sufficient reason'. This sort of thing misses the measurement of change which underlies Newton's influential theories and leads nowhere in science.

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Kuznetzova
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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by Kuznetzova » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:12 am

Good to see responses in this thread.

Could you quickly summarize Leibniz's twist here?

YehYeh
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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by YehYeh » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:56 am

I'm better off leaving the cogwheels and rubber bands of Leibniz's philosophy to Wikipedia, starting HERE.

Leibniz was thoroughly Aristotelian (actually medieval Scholastic) in his philosophical worldview. That means that he was looking at a world full of discrete objects which are related to each other in space. Aristotelian time is fixed eternally, so any talk of time or change in his block universe will be completely incoherent! When he does talk about changing properties and such, he is really talking about Plato's realism, not his own. He did this alot.

Compare this to a 4-D block universe that also has predetermined change in time.

Now, Lee Smolin, who is a tremendously prestigious theoretical physicist, is impressed by some very different ideas of presentist time and universal evolution of physical laws. You and I would love him to be able to say something physically relevant that includes these Presocratic principles of change. But he doesn't go to Presocratic relativists for advice. He goes to some Roberto Mangabeira Unger, a South American philosopher who tells him that Leibniz has a universe already made up of relations.

What's the difference? A relationist says that these two existing apples are related in space. (x:y) The relativist says that each apple is relative to its tree. (x only if y) You can't have an apple without an apple tree.

As it happens, all modern science, including evolution, is relativist.

Here's Lee Smolin again, with his great presentation, either flash or pdf slides, or both in two windows, as I had it
http://perimeterinstitute.ca/videos/time-reborn

tillingborn
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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by tillingborn » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:54 am

YehYeh wrote:Aristotelian time is fixed eternally, so any talk of time or change in his block universe will be completely incoherent! When he does talk about changing properties and such, he is really talking about Plato's realism, not his own.
How do you mean? Block universe sounds more like Parmenides. This is where I get my understanding of Aristotle's view of time: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/physics.4.iv.html (parts 10 and 11). He talks a lot about change, summing up he says: "It is clear, then, that time is 'number of movement in respect of the before and after', and is continuous since it is an attribute of what is continuous." That seems to mean that time is a 'block' of some sort, but that our experience of it is defined by change, then and when being divided by a sweeping 'now'. Certainly Aristotle believed that time was infinite, he said somewhere (something like) 'Plato believes that time came into being with creation,' adding that, 'he is alone in that opinion.' I don't have the quote to hand, but in the Timaeus, Plato claims that the demiurge created the sun, moon and planets so that we could mark time.
YehYeh wrote:What's the difference? A relationist says that these two existing apples are related in space. (x:y) The relativist says that each apple is relative to its tree. (x only if y) You can't have an apple without an apple tree.
Not sure what the tree has got to do with it. I think it's more the case that relationists deny that spatial dimensions and/or time exist.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by Ginkgo » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:13 pm

tillingborn wrote:
YehYeh wrote:Aristotelian time is fixed eternally, so any talk of time or change in his block universe will be completely incoherent! When he does talk about changing properties and such, he is really talking about Plato's realism, not his own.
How do you mean? Block universe sounds more like Parmenides. This is where I get my understanding of Aristotle's view of time: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/physics.4.iv.html (parts 10 and 11). He talks a lot about change, summing up he says: "It is clear, then, that time is 'number of movement in respect of the before and after', and is continuous since it is an attribute of what is continuous." That seems to mean that time is a 'block' of some sort, but that our experience of it is defined by change, then and when being divided by a sweeping 'now'. Certainly Aristotle believed that time was infinite, he said somewhere (something like) 'Plato believes that time came into being with creation,' adding that, 'he is alone in that opinion.' I don't have the quote to hand, but in the Timaeus, Plato claims that the demiurge created the sun, moon and planets so that we could mark time.
YehYeh wrote:What's the difference? A relationist says that these two existing apples are related in space. (x:y) The relativist says that each apple is relative to its tree. (x only if y) You can't have an apple without an apple tree.
Not sure what the tree has got to do with it. I think it's more the case that relationists deny that spatial dimensions and/or time exist.

Just to add my two cents worth.

I view this idea of "Block universe" as a reference to the historical traditional of physics. And yes, I think it does start with Parmenides and Aristotle and carries through to Einstein. I understand in terms of special relativity this is only a rough approximation. However, in general terms time is viewed as static and unchanging. I don't think there is anything in the classical laws of physics that prevents backwards causation. Which is rather interesting because the arrow of time only points in one direction.

So I guess what I am saying is that time is the fly in the ointment. A fly that won't seem to go away.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by tillingborn » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:02 pm

Ginkgo wrote:I don't think there is anything in the classical laws of physics that prevents backwards causation. Which is rather interesting because the arrow of time only points in one direction.

So I guess what I am saying is that time is the fly in the ointment. A fly that won't seem to go away.
Didn't Einstein refer to time as a stubbornly persistent illusion? I think the most likely reason the arrow of time points one way is that there was a Big Bang and we can't put it back in the box.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by YehYeh » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:30 am

tillingborn wrote:
YehYeh wrote:What's the difference? A relationist says that these two existing apples are related in space. (x:y) The relativist says that each apple is relative to its tree. (x only if y) You can't have an apple without an apple tree.
Not sure what the tree has got to do with it. I think it's more the case that relationists deny that spatial dimensions and/or time exist.
Relations are not necessary for non-complex objects. For relativism, the apple is necessarily related to its very own apple tree. Necessary relations at the fundamental logical level create very strong implications in all their applications. A tree doesn't need to have any apples, it just creates the possibility. But an apple could be said to be caused by its parent (plus a lot of other events).

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by YehYeh » Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:39 am

Ginkgo wrote: So I guess what I am saying is that time is the fly in the ointment. A fly that won't seem to go away.
So right. Figuring out what they did with time is most of the problem. At least, Parmenides said outright that there is no change in his eternal world.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:32 am

tillingborn wrote: Didn't Einstein refer to time as a stubbornly persistent illusion? I think the most likely reason the arrow of time points one way is that there was a Big Bang and we can't put it back in the box.
I'm not sure. I guess he was referring to his theory of special relativity whereby it is possible for two people to have a disagreement as to when a present event occurred.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:50 am

YehYeh wrote:What's the difference? A relationist says that these two existing apples are related in space. (x:y) The relativist says that each apple is relative to its tree. (x only if y) You can't have an apple without an apple tree.
tillingborn wrote: Not sure what the tree has got to do with it. I think it's more the case that relationists deny that spatial dimensions and/or time exist.

I think I get the analogy.

Apples exist independently of there being any apple trees. Conversely apples cannot exist unless there are apple trees.

In a similar fashion when applied to time and space we end up with two positions. Space and time exist independently even if there was nothing else. The second position would be that space and time cannot exist unless we have objects that create the spatial and temporal.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by tillingborn » Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:05 pm

Ginkgo wrote:I think I get the analogy.

Apples exist independently of there being any apple trees. Conversely apples cannot exist unless there are apple trees.

In a similar fashion when applied to time and space we end up with two positions. Space and time exist independently even if there was nothing else. The second position would be that space and time cannot exist unless we have objects that create the spatial and temporal.
To be honest, I don't remember ever seeing relative in that sense; must be logic. Anyway, after a bit of brow furrowing, I think I get it. I'm more inclined to Ginkgo's second formulation, which, confusingly, I have always understood to be relationalism.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by YehYeh » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:55 pm

Yes. In addition to its own meaning, relationalism is one of the euphemisms philosophers use for relativism to get it past editors. Fun and games in the politics of reason. Philosophers so hate labels. Labels are imprecise to begin with even before being deliberately misused. Something like 'anti-realism' has a different meaning for each speaker, depending on where s/he's coming from.

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Re: Lee Smolin lecture at Perimeter Institute (1h 6m)

Post by chasw » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:22 pm

K: In his book A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking uses the phrase "finger of time" to illustrate that it only points in one direction. The philosophical implication is - reality is instantaneous and continuous, i.e., absolutely tied to the finger of time at each point in space. The past is history, the future is not yet determined, at least for higher order animals.

As philosophers have learned from modern physicists, each location in the universe has its own time reference and even its own pace in comparison to other locations, depending on their motions in relation to one another. While this complicates mainstream metaphysical concepts of reality, nevertheless, Smolin's common sense claims about real time confirms them. BTW, this interplay between modern physics and philosophy is a source of endless fascination for me. - CW

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