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Is Time Handed in a Quantum World?

Callender, Craig (2000) Is Time Handed in a Quantum World? [Preprint]

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    This paper considers the possibility that nonrelativistic quantum mechanics tells us that Nature cares about time reversal. In a classical world we have a fundamentally reversible world that appears irreversible at higher levels, e.g., the thermodynamic level. But in a quantum world we see, if I am correct, a fundamentally irreversible world that appears reversible at higher levels, e.g., the level of classical mechanics. I consider two related symmetries, time reversal invariance and what I call Wigner reversal invariance. Violation of the first is interesting, for not only would it fly in the face of the usual story about temporal symmetry, but it also appears to imply (as I'll explain) that time is handed, or as some have misleadingly said in the literature, anisotropic. Violation of the second is, as I hope to show, even more interesting. The paper also contains a discussion of two mostly neglected topics: what it means to say time is handed and what warrants such an attribution to time.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: quantum mechanics; time reversal; direction of time
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
    Depositing User: Craig Callender
    Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2002
    Last Modified: 13 Sep 2015 11:07
    Item ID: 612

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