In The Physical Reality of Free Will [1], I described an interpretation of physical reality in which randomness is fundamental. I argued that simply eliminating physical determinism establishes Free Will. A reader posted a detailed and thought-provoking response. The following is a hypothetical conversation between this reader (RDR) and me (HC), based on the reader’s comments and responses to his comments. I start the conversation with a brief summary of my essay.

HC: The Dissipative Conceptual Model is an interpretation of physical reality, based on clearly defined assumptions, sound logic, and empirical physical facts [2,3]. The DCM establishes fundamental randomness…

Physics holds that Free Will is an illusion, but is this conclusion really mandated by physics? Physics’ denial of free will is a consequence of its view of time as a deterministic sequence of causes and effects. Determinism means that the future, as well as the past, is set in stone, and time is simply the playing out of fate. Even while quantum observations are fundamentally random, physics describes the quantum state, as it exists in isolation, unperturbed and unobserved, by the deterministic laws of physics. Physics regards both randomness and free will simply as artifacts of our imperfect perception…

It is sometimes claimed that all points throughout the universe are instantly connected. This is a reference to quantum nonlocality, which is an established fact of quantum mechanics, well-documented by Bell-type experiments. But what does nonlocality mean, and how can it be reconciled with relativity, which says that nothing, not even information, can propagate faster than the speed of light?

Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen first raised the issue of nonlocality in a 1935 article. …

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Entropy is associated with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that the entropy for any isolated system never decreases. But what is entropy? Few physical properties are as confusing as entropy. This is for a very simple reason; physics cannot define entropy as a fundamental property of state. That fact leaves entropy open to confusion and different interpretations.

It wasn’t always so.

Before physics subsumed thermodynamics as a statistical approximation of mechanics, there was a simple interpretation of the Second Law: “useful” energy (meaning available for useful work) is irreversibly dissipated to ambient heat, which has no availability for…

Introduction

Quantum measurements and observations are fundamentally random. However, randomness is in deep conflict with the deterministic laws of physics. Do hidden properties determine outcomes, so that they only appear random to us? Does our observation or consciousness act outside of physics to instantiate random change? Does the universe spit with each possible outcome manifested in a separate branch? These and other questions are still debated and unresolved. The answer boils down to the nature of time.

The Two Times

There are two very different conceptions of time and change. The first is the time of mechanics. Relativity describes change as a sequence of…

In a New York Times Opinion, physicist Sean Carroll stated that “quantum mechanics is the most fundamental theory we have, sitting squarely at the center of every serious attempt to formulate deep laws of nature.” Yet, he lamented, “Physicists don’t understand their own theory any better than a typical smartphone user understands what’s going on inside the device” and that physicists seem to be O.K. with this. This attitude is, perhaps, understandable. More than 90 years after Einstein, Bohr, and other physicists first started debating the meaning of quantum mechanics, there is still no consensus.

The true nature of physical…

Introduction

Perhaps the most fundamental problem of physics is the nature of time. There is a serious tension between the empirical randomness and irreversibility of quantum observations and the fundamental laws of physics, which are blind to the direction of time. This conflict underlies quantum mechanics’ conceptual difficulties, and it drives the need to reinvent time.

In another post, Is Quantum Randomness Fundamental?, I describe two distinct times: mechanical time and thermodynamic time. Mechanical time is the time of classical, quantum, and relativistic mechanics. It describes change as deterministic and reversible. Thermodynamic time, in contrast, describes the irreversible production of entropy…

The universe evolved from an initially homogeneous and featureless state to the rich complexity of atoms, planets, and galaxies that we see today. In our own corner of the universe, simple chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into self-replicating forms within as little as 0.1 billion years after formation of the earth’s oceans, and life took off. We see the arrow of evolution in the fossil record and in the advances of civilization, technology, and economies. …

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The universe has evolved from a nearly homogeneous state to the current diversity and structural organization seen throughout the cosmos. Weather systems evolve to form complex structures such as tornadoes and hurricanes. The fossil record documents the progression of life from simple microbes to multicellular organisms of increasing organizational complexity and diversity. These and numerous other observations document a pervasive tendency of systems that are open to energy sources to evolve complex and highly organized structures. There is little substantive debate regarding these facts. However, facts themselves do not address the deeper question of why systems evolve.

An argument commonly…

Harrison Crecraft

PhD Geoscientist. Exploring physics’ foundations to reveal the realities of time and evolving complexity.

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