WELCOME TO ‘PRESENT MOMENT’ OF LEE SMOLIN
It is possible to read in New scientist internet web site a very interesting article of Lee Smolin dated on 26/04/2013 : ‘ It is time physics recognized that time is real.’ In the first part of the article he gives a critical analysis of how, in most cases, time is conceived and treated by physicists and he expresses a strong opposition to his colleague Julian Barbour who published a book : “the end of time“.
For L. Smolin : ‘it might be a funny thing to say , but the idea that time is real requires a radical departure from the standard paradigm of physics. This is because the effect of 400 years of the development of physicist’ conception of nature has been to devalue time and ultimately remove it from the fundamental aspects of nature. Ever since the era of René Descartes in the 17th century, time has been represented as if it were just a dimension of space. This culminated in the ‘’block universe’’ conception of general relativity in which the present moment has no meaning – all that exists is the whole history of the universe at once, timelessly. When laws of physics are represented mathematically, causal processes which are the activity of time are represented by timeless logical implications.
But the real universe has properties which are not representable by any fact about a mathematical object. One of them is that there is always a present moment. Mathematical objects being timeless don’t have present moments, futures or pasts. However, if we embrace the reality of time and see mathematical laws as tools rather than as mystical mirrors of nature, other stubbornly inexplicable facts about the world become explicable…’
I am of course very happy to come upon such an article since I develop for six years the proposal to take into account at every moment the present time. This is quite opposite to Einstein’s argument : ‘What is real from a physical point of view … is made of space-time coincidences and nothing else’.
I develop my thesis of opposition against Einstein’s affirmation since the chapter 1 of my lectures in 2007-2008 (which can be still read on my internet site: 53PH3PP6 to 53PH3PP11). As a matter of fact, Einstein’s affirmation confirm his realistic philosophical conception, but, in my opinion, it has the greater inconvenient to eliminate the difference between the points of view of observers who could be in different referential frames and finally the observers are no more necessary. Let us bear in mind that it is very late, in a book with Infeld in 1936, that Einstein feel for the first time the necessity to introduce the word ‘observer’ in a book on physics.
In fact, in short words, I consider that it is impossible to hold scientific talks without the presence of the ‘thinking subject’ and this presence is not eradicable not only from the talks but also from the laws stated, because ‘the human being has always a personal contribution when he elucidates and puts in evidence a law of nature’ (article set in my blog the 21/12/2011).
Beware: I do not claim, as Smolin does, that time is real and given in the meaning that it would be a part of nature; on the contrary I claim that it is the ‘thinking subject’ who is the origin and the bearer of the time.
In every circumstances L. Smolin has the merit to defend his conception of ‘’real time “, and in many articles he tried to convince of its relevance. Two decades ago, he contributed with Carlo Rovelli to the development of the quantum loop theory. When stumbling over the problem of the quantum clock which would mark the universal time, they realized that there was a radical disagreement between them. Rovelli reached a conclusion quite opposite to that of his colleague Smolin: Time is only an illusion and consequently it does not exist. He goes on still claiming this opinion.
Smolin and I, we have in common to point out that the ‘’present moment ‘’, the “present instant“, “the Presence“ must be taken into account to overcome the dead-end of the crisis of theoretical physic at cosmological scale and infinitely small scale.
L. Smolin indicates that he is making (simple) models governed by laws which are irreversible in time and from which emerge approximately time symmetric behaviors.
It is not an easy task to attribute, to the “thinking subject“, an ineradicable place necessary to the understanding of the nature as it can be described. In fact it has been excluded with the occurrence of modern physics since Galilee and Descartes. Nevertheless I suggest valorizing this ineradicable presence, named: ‘proper Time of the Subject: TpS < 10-25 second’. Duration quite near the splitting between the world of real particles and virtual ones.
Let us come back to the article of Smolin and focus our attention on one of his argument concerning: ‘the block universe conception of general relativity in which the present moment has no meaning’; As for me, I happened to force myself to read in 24 hours the maximum number of articles about the genesis of the universe, from the primordial time ( big bang) until the present time as we observe it. I was overcome by a feeling of made of, as if the mechanical logic of Descartes, which Newton hated, was still in action. Who was the image of the other? Why the laws of the nature, of the world, of the universe(s) should be totally accessible to the cognitive capacities of the thinking subject? Our connection of understandability with the properties of the nature is caused by our intellectual skillfulness in mastering the chain of causality. Does nature encompasses only that order?Is the logical causal thought of the thinking subject a result of the learning of human being, directly confronted to the external world, or is it the fruit of the anthrôpos’evolution? It is the reason for which the task undertaken by S. Dehaene is, in my opinion, of great importance. If, as suggested by S. Dehaene, the causal reasoning is a legacy of evolution which allows to hear the data of the external world, then the nature is probably much more rich and complex than what we can decipher. So my conviction that “within an eternity, among all the possible, the thinking subject endlessly digs, the understanding of its universe corresponding to his capacities of deciphering“ would be in accordance with the real dynamic intellectual investment of the thinking subject in the world. If, on the contrary, the nature is perfectly causative, without anything else, and the human logic is similar, by learning, then the correspondence between what we conceive gradually as properties of the nature and what is really the nature, is narrow.
What is sure, is that the fact to establish the present in the nature, either, as recommends L. Smolin, because time is, before all, real, or because the thinking subject cannot be eradicated, as I recommend, ‘’requires a radical departure from the standard paradigm of physics”