Critique of "The Scientific Worldview": Part 9a The Ten Assumptions of Science: Irreversibility

Bill catches an incomplete analogy. Is time more "relative" than motion?

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked TSW are from "The Scientific Worldview[1]" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

TSW: Seventh Assumption: irreversibility (Part 9a)

 "All processes are irreversible."

BW: Agreed, generally ... even absolutely.

TSW:  "... the concept of time encourages the attempt to relate the motions of one thing to the motions of other things."

BW: I discussed it previously, but I think time is even more "relative" than motion. In the universal sense, it's a *change* in the relative position of objects: there would be no time in a static universe. In the qualitative sense, that change is measured in relation to objective spin: some rotational or periodic motion, usually a clock.

[GB: “Time is even more ‘relative’ than motion” makes no sense. Time is either motion or it is not. Your second sentence contradicts the first. At least we agree that there would be no time in a static universe (that is because it could not exist, per the Fourth Assumption of Science, inseparability (Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is no matter without motion).]    

TSW:  "Strictly speaking, time per se does not occur; only particular events occur."

BW: If events are merely collisions of particles in motion, neither time nor its measurement requires events, only a change in relative position.

[GB: Agree. I see what you mean. Time can involve collisions (events) or it can involve inertial motion, which does not. I will have to replace the word “events” with the word “motions” in the next edition. On the other hand, the measurement of time requires events (collisions) as Heisenberg found out.

There can be no motion without time, as I had to point out in a comment involving a fad called “catastrophe theory” in the ‘70s: “Obviously, the very nature of variation or change in any material always involves time, even if it is measured in microseconds. A catastrophe results from extremely rapid changes, not from "changes" occurring in zero time as implied by the theory.” [1]]

TSW:  "As with the existence of matter, time occurs independently of us regardless of what we are able to say about it."

BW: Universally, yes. But time itself is not quantified by nature, so we fabricate a conventional "clock time" for human convenience. However, our perceptual "sense of time" (independent of clocks) is modified by our own motion, biological and environmental. So, our sense that "time flies" when we're engaged, or "time stops" when we're sleeping, is true *for us*. I think it's important to distinguish between universal, conventional, and perceptive time in any discussion.

[GB: That is why I use the slogan “time is motion.” One size fits all. It so obviously begs the question: What is in motion? In the infinite universe, there are an infinite number of microcosms in motion with respect to all other microcosms. You can call that “universal time” if you wish. Conventional time can be whatever others agree to as well (Earth’s rotation, anyone?). Perceptive time is subjective, of course. If I am looking south, I may see much evidence for time in the south, but none in the north. Immaterialists, who commonly think that the universe revolves around them, tend to overemphasize time as a perception. That overemphasis is part of the general philosophical struggle between materialists and immaterialists.]

TSW:  "Time is thus an echo of causality."

BW: Not a good analogy. We consider motion *prior to* an event as a necessary condition of distinguishing cause from effect, but there need not be an event for there to be time (by my definition).

[GB: You are right. The analogy is correct, but incomplete. It should also include inertial motion. The next edition will have this instead: “Time is thus an echo of causality and inertia.”]  

TSW:  "Planck was right in pointing out that the antithesis between irreversibility and reversibility that he thought irresolvable ..."

BW: He didn't seem to have any problem resolving the two states:

"In fact, the motions of single atoms are always reversible, and thus far one may say, as before, that the irreversible processes appear reduced to a reversible process, but the phenomenon as a whole is nevertheless irreversible, because upon reversal the disorder of the numerous individual elementary processes would be eliminated." - Reversibility and Irreversibility.”

I suspect you would disagree with his assertion of reversibility in atomic motion. Planck described a reversible process as one in which an initial state is "restored", without modifying anything else. I think any spin or rotary motion can objectively occur, independent of any interaction with or relation to the universe ... but that doesn't make the process "reversible", only "recurrent". That kind of cyclical recurrence is useful for *quantizing* the degree of change in the motion of other objects, but it doesn't make either of them "reversible", except in a mathematical sense.

[GB: You are right. I totally disagree with Planck. Glad to see that you are catching on. Planck’s microcosmic mistake here is typical of “systems philosophy,” which overemphasizes the system and ignores the environment. But I also disagree with you that rotation can occur “independent of any interaction with or relation to the universe.” What we teach at PSI is that every motion is univironmental: the motions of every single microcosm and its respective submicrocosms occur in relation to all the supermicrocosms in the macrocosm. This means that each motion is unprecedented, and thus irreversible. In particular, no microcosm can rotate without producing a new relationship with its macrocosm. Rotation affects the macrocosm because the boundary between microcosm and macrocosm is never distinct. This follows from the Tenth Assumption of Science, Interconnection (All things are interconnected, that is, between any two objects exist other objects that transmit matter and motion).]  

Next: Irreversibility (Part 9b)

cotsw 016

[1] Borchardt, Glenn, 1978, Catastrophe theory: Application to the Permian mass extinction: Comments and reply: Geology, v. 6, p. 453-454.


Rick Doogie said...

“Time is thus an echo of causality and inertia.”
Glenn, can you define what is meant by "echo" in this context. And it might be good for future reference to give your definition of "inertia" here as well. Thanks.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks Rick. Of course, time is motion. With causality, we are describing the collision of one microcosm with another, while with inertia we are describing the motion of a microcosm with respect to another. I think the “echo” appellation merely is used here to imply the necessary contribution of motion in causality and inertia. So, with causality, we describe the collision of a collider with a collidee per Newton’s Second Law. With inertia, we describe the motion of a microcosm with respect to the rest of the universe. I define inertia, as did Newton, as the unpropelled motion of an object (Newton) or microcosm (Borchardt). Ideally, objects moving via inertia have a constant velocity and are thus not subject to acceleration or deceleration as they move through perfectly empty space. Of course, space is not perfectly empty, and in actuality, there is always acceleration and deceleration affecting a microcosm as it travels inertially. That is because every microcosm is surrounded by a macrocosm that has the supermicrocosms that provide the acceleration and deceleration. The principle remains dominant, however, with the cause of inertial motion being a result of some distant acceleration in the infinite universe having occurred perhaps eons ago.