Is Time's Arrow Perspectival?

Carlo Rovelli 1, 2
Abstract : We observe entropy decrease towards the past. Does this imply that in the past the world was in a non-generic microstate? I point out an alternative. The subsystem to which we belong interacts with the universe via a relatively small number of quantities, which define a coarse graining. Entropy happens to depends on coarse-graining. Therefore the entropy we ascribe to the universe depends on the peculiar coupling between us and the rest of the universe. Low past entropy may be due to the fact that this coupling (rather than microstate of the universe) is non-generic. I argue that for any generic microstate of a sufficiently rich system there are always special subsystems defining a coarse graining for which the entropy of the rest is low in one time direction (the "past"). These are the subsystems allowing creatures that "live in time" ---such as those in the biosphere--- to exist. I reply to some objections raised to an earlier presentation of this idea, in particular by Bob Wald, David Albert and Jim Hartle.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Carlo Rovelli <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 2:01:07 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 4:56:08 PM

Links full text


  • HAL Id : hal-01259426, version 1
  • ARXIV : 1505.01125



Carlo Rovelli. Is Time's Arrow Perspectival?. Khalil Chamcham, Joseph Silk, John Barrow, Simon Saunders. The Philosophy of Cosmology , Cambridge University Press, 2016. ⟨hal-01259426⟩



Record views