Christian Long

Sean Carroll: The Arrow of Time (Pt. 1)

In TED Talks on May 12, 2010 at 4:34 am

Reflection by CARL K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Sean Carroll: The Arrow of Time (Pt. 1)

Note:  No video available for embed.  Click link above to get to the actual video.

At the beginning of his speech, Sean Carroll wants to argue how the arrow of time affects us in way that when things were happening when the universe was created, that they have already shaped how we, collectively, live today on Earth. He defines the word “time” in a manner of repitition and change. Repitition, he explained it as, is predictable, or just a simple way of measuring time. While change is, well change. Not everything in time stays the same, or repeats itself in way that we can track it easily. As Sean showed in his slideshow, Elvis was once a slender, good-looking rockstar back in the ’50s. However as time passed, he progressively gained weight over the years. Change happens in way where anything that happened is irreversible, and so Sean believes that this is what helps define the arrow of time: the distance between the past and the future.

In order to help explain this in a much simpler way, I’ll use Sean’s language here: If you took a movie of a pendulum, and played it in reverse, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, whether it was going forward or backwards. Hence why a pendulum is a reliable measurement of time, when speaking of repitition. However, if you were to take a movie of the scenery of some European city, and played it in reverse, everything would look radically different. This can relate to how the universe looks now, than before. What the entire universe looks like now, or even in the future, it probably looked completely different in it’s past.

further in his speech, Sean explains how you can understand this concept. If you a take a look at a billiards table, with the a balls all aligned and such, everything is orderly. Which is how the universe first began. But as time goes on, based on the idea of entropy, the measure of how disorderly a system is, the universe is easily susecpitble to becoming more disorderly, beacause one of the law’s of entropy states that disorder tends to increase, or stay the same, in a closed system. Look at evolution. We all started out as a single, microscopic organism with basic elements of life. Today, there are millions of complex systems ranging from plant cells to humans.

In the last 3 paragraphs, I’ve pretty much reiterated the most extreme basics of Sean’s concept of the arrow of time. After watching about 12 mins of this video, my head now is having a major headache that I would like for it to go away. So for now, if any would like to know more about the arrow of time, feel free to continuing to watch his lecture. Since I’m any type of expert, nor do I necessarily find it all that exciting, I would still like to acknowledge how much time and thought have been put into this, and so I appreciate his work. It really is a fascinating topic to look over, but one has to have the right kind of mind to actually focus on it, without spacing off into an imaginary world. Again, this is a fascinating topic, and for those who are certainly more interested in this, than I am, I highly recommend this video.


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