Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Experimental evidence that Time is an emergent property.

Well, this is certainly more important than Obamacare.

Its not every day that we get experimental evidence of a philosophical argument, but today we do.  Briefly, the mathematics of quantum physics equations predict that the universe is changeless. This is clearly not the case since we observe things changing all the time. Two theorists, Page and Wootters, came up with the idea that the universe might look changeable from the inside, but an observer external to the universe might see no change.  From the article:

Of course, without experimental verification, Page and Wooter's ideas are little more than a philosophical curiosity. And since it is never possible to have an observer outside the universe, there seemed little chance of ever testing the idea.

Until now. Today, Ekaterina Moreva at the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRIM) in Turin, Italy, and a few pals have performed the first experimental test of Page\Wooters ideas. And they confirm that time is indeed an emergent phenomenon for 'internal' observers but absent for external ones.

Link to the paper.


In the last years several theoretical papers discussed if time can be an emergent propertiy deriving
from quantum correlations. Here, to provide an insight into how this phenomenon can occur, we
present an experiment that illustrates Page and Wootters' mechanism of \static" time, and Gambini
et al. subsequent re nements. A static, entangled state between a clock system and the rest of the
universe is perceived as evolving by internal observers that test the correlations between the two
subsystems. We implement this mechanism using an entangled state of the polarization of two
photons, one of which is used as a clock to gauge the evolution of the second: an \internal" observer
that becomes correlated with the clock photon sees the other system evolve, while an \external"
observer that only observes global properties of the two photons can prove it is static.

So, if time is an emergent property, can you adjust it? What else might be an emergent property? Maybe gravity? Could those things be adjusted? If you make an Alcubierre warp bubble will time run the same inside as outside?

Isn't this fun?! Bwaha!


ZZMike said...

"... an observer external to the universe ..."

There are certain philosophical difficulties with that suggestion. For example, the universe is everything there is. Everything.

There is no "outside".

The Phantom said...

"...the universe is everything there is."

Yeah. Well, unless its not. :)

This kinda thing is what makes math fun, eh?