If a tree un-fell in the forest, would we remember it?
Nope, says a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And he's supposedly got the math to prove it.
In what I assume is a deliberate attempt to make my head hurt, MIT physicist Lorenzo Maccone has attempted to solve the problem of the arrow of time.
The arrow of time, if I understand it right (fingers crossed here), describes a contradiction between events at the microscopic level, which (theoretically?) occur in the same way whether time is moving forwards or backwards, and events at the macroscopic level which occur in a different way depending on the flow of time.
For example, the tree falls when we're moving to the future. It doesn't fall if we're moving to the past--it lifts itself back up. Imagine a film of a tree falling, running in reverse. Like that.
Most importantly, the tree doesn't un-fall in the future.
Or does it? Maccone's math apparently suggests it often does. We just don't remember it because of our quantum entanglement with the system of time moving forward.
Maccone says events like a coffee cup heating up instead of cooling or a pane of glass un-shattering do happen, but our memory is erased by necessity. So says his math.
Hence my throbbing temples.
There's a Guardian story on this here. And the Wikipedia entry on Time's Arrow is here. Read 'em and you'll know as much as I do. Probably more--I don't need quantum disentanglement to not-remember insanely weird and complicated physics theories.
But actually, the only reason I'm posting this is for purposes of atheist propaganda.
My understanding, probably similar to yours, is that physicists conceive of the word in bizarro, science-fictionesque ways. I'm not the slightest bit able to understanding their ideas. But I do have respect for them. From what I understand of history, science, and technology, physics seems to have a good track record at bringing us dependable knowledge of the universe we live in. Physicists study time, gravity and the elegant dance of microscopic particles. And while physicists argue about their theories and conclusions, they have an established framework for hashing out their disagreements.
Most importantly, if they can't prove something they call it a theory and they welcome challenges to it. 'Coz that's how stuff gets figured out.
Compare this to religion. Multiple Millennia have passed and there's still no agreement on the nature of god, his motives, how his power works or what he wants. Just lots of argument and fear and hatred and killing in his name. And when something isn't understood? Apparently we're not even supposed to try to figure it out. "God works in mysterious ways."
Physics maps the universe and tries to understand/explain our place in it. It brings forward tentative answers and adjusts its ideas as new facts emerge. I find it meaningful and beautiful. Religion says personal belief is more important than knowledge and tunes out argument. It uses politics, wealth and bullying to get its way. It celebrates that which is crass and ignorant.
Physics is the smart, weird kid who enriches a classroom. I like that kid.
Religion is the out-of-control child throwing books at teachers and biting other students.
I wish I knew how to help.