The view from no-when [Book Review]

In Philip K. Dick’s Counter-Clock World the direction of time flips in 1986, putting the Earth into what its inhabitants call the ‘Hogarth Phase’. Named after the scientist who predicted that ‘time’s arrow' would change direction, the Hogarth Phase is a period in which entropy decreases instead of increases. During this time the dead call from their graves to be excavated, people clean their lungs by ‘smoking’ stubs that grow into mature cigarettes, coffee separates from cream, and so on. Although such reversals may be familiar from works of fiction, we are utterly unfamiliar with them in experience. The processes of nature behave in a temporally asymmetric manner. Once the cream mixes with the coffee, it stays that way, never to return to its original separated state. Neither cigarettes nor people ever fully reconstitute themselves. This kind of asymmetric behaviour is ubiquitous in thermodynamic, radiative, and quantum mechanical phenomena. But we also find our common-sense impression ofthe world painted with temporally asymmetric concepts. Time feels like it is ‘f|owing’ forward and causation appears to be an asymmetric relation. These phenomena and impressions stand in sharp contrast with the world as perceived through eyes tutored by modem science. Spacetime, rather than..
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