[SydPhil] Foundations of Physics seminar, Thurs 13 June - 'Initial Conditions and the Direction of Time', Matt Farr

Matthew Farr matt.farr at sydney.edu.au
Tue Jun 11 18:43:44 AEST 2013

The next talk in the Sydney Foundations of Physics series is Thursday 13th June. Details are below.
Speaker. Matt Farr (Sydney, Centre for Time)
Title. 'Initial' Conditions and the Direction of Time

Abstract. A central problem concerning the role of time-directed causal notions in scientific explanation is the time-symmetric nature of fundamental physics. Under reasonable assumptions, classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and relativistic quantum field theories can be taken to be symmetric under time reversal (in the latter case under the guise of combined CPT symmetry). It follows that there exist pairs of models of such theories that differ with respect to their temporal orientation that are empirically underdetermined by the relevant data, implying that for any causal (time-directed) explanation of some phenomenon, there exists an alternative model that is empirically equivalent to the first yet the causal relations are inverted. In the recent literature, multiple authors claim that there is an important time-asymmetric feature of explanation within the domain of time-reversal symmetric physical theories insofar as placing constraints on initial, rather than final, conditions offers an explanatory advantage in such cases as cosmology, statistical mechanics, classical electrodynamics, and quantum mechanics. I assess the common structure of such arguments and argue that the apparent special role of initial conditions is due to an asymmetry in the selection of data under consideration. I consider the implications of this for the wider debate on time direction in physics.

Time. Thursday 13th June, 11:30-13:00
Location. Philosophy Common Room S413, Main Quad - A14, University of Sydney.

All are welcome!

*Please note* that we are seeking speakers for future seminars - any area related to foundational concepts in physics (e.g. space, time, matter, motion, probability, measurement, etc.) is welcome, whether theoretical, philosophical or methodological. If you'd like to give a talk, or know of any future visitors who would like to give a talk, please contact me at matt.farr at sydney.edu.au<mailto:matt.farr at sydney.edu.au>.

A list of future SydFoP talks is available here: http://newagendasstudyoftime.wordpress.com/events/

Details for how to subscribe to the SydFoP mailing list are here: http://lists.arts.usyd.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/sydfop

All the best
DR MATT FARR | Postdoctoral Research Fellow
New Agendas for the Study of Time<http://newagendasstudyoftime.wordpress.com/> | Centre for Time
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Room N494 | Quadrangle A14
University of Sydney | NSW | 2006

T +61 2 9114 0633<tel:%2B61%202%209114%200633> | F +61 2 9351 3918<tel:%2B61%202%209351%203918>
E matt.farr at sydney.edu.au<mailto:matt.farr at sydney.edu.au>
W mattfarr.co.uk<http://mattfarr.co.uk/>

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