Skip to content

Time is not an illusion

Dr. Ethan Siegel’s article No, the laws of physics are not time-symmetric is an interesting piece. The article explains an important discovery made in 2012 by BaBar collaboration that observed time-reversal symmetry violation directly in ϒ(4s) particle decays into mesons.

Time-reversal symmetry violation, or T-symmetry violation, is the physics term for ‘the arrow of time’, meaning that time is one-directional, always moving forward and never backward.

The news of the T-symmetry violation discovery was overshadowed by the ‘slightly bigger news’ of the discovery of Higgs boson in the same year.

But Higgs boson was considered ‘slightly bigger news’ for a reason. Higgs boson was a prediction of a fundamental physics theory of ‘what things are’ (The Standard Model), and therefore its discovery was a great deal, as an impressive confirmation to the theory.

The T-symmetry violation, however, is not a prediction of such a theory. At the macro level, it is just an observation. In fact, T-symmetry violation, or ‘the arrow of time’, is a such an invariable observation known to everyone that only an opposite discovery might have been news to people.

At the microlevel, T-symmetry violation is a prediction of CPT theorem, which is a logical theorem derived from the self-consistency of physics, not a fundamental physics of ‘what is’.

But this doesn’t mean that BaBar collaboration discovery of T-symmetry violation in 2012 is insignificant.

What makes the BaBar discovery important is that it was observed at a strict elemental particle level. This shows that T-symmetry violation, or ‘the arrow of time’, isn’t some kind of aggregated phenomenon nor an illusion, but something happens at elemental particle levels.

But it is an observation. There is no theoretical explanation for it. It is quite possible that any explanation of T-symmetry violation, i.e., ‘the arrow of time’, is beyond the realm of physics itself, but something that is just there, and here, a given, something that precedes time and physics itself. See the Universe is a Timechain.

There are things that are within the realm of science, but there are also things that are beyond. They are beyond not because of the limitation of the current scientific observations and theories, but because of their nature.

Facing such a challenging realm, however, people start to throw fantasy into science, or extend science into fantasy.

“The universe is a simulation,” and “time is an illusion,” etc.

No they are not. They’re not only real, but also have a clear purpose.

Both the time itself and the time arrow are real. Being a part of the creation, however, the time may end when the new creation enters into eternity.

Let us have some faith instead, humbly give dues to the Creator of the universe, and submit our existence to the reality and its divine purpose. See Science and Faith.