THE ARROW OF TIME POINTS BOTH WAYS — MORE ON RETROCAUSALITY AND RETROCREATION

By Vince Giuliano

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Can present or future events affect the past?  A phenomenon known as retrocausality.  I have argued definitely YES, retrocausality exists in the quantum world and is also an important aspect of  what I have called Intentional Reality Creation (IRC). If you want a sample of what other “yes” voices say before going further here, you can check out the videos on this list.

The Cramer transactional model of quantum physics*, as applied to reality creation as outlined in my treatise ON BEING AND CREATION presumes quantum waves going both forward and backward in time, searching for possible events and situations that could lead fulfillment of an intention.  These are followed by quantum response waves moving in the opposite time direction.  The processes, though they have ranged both forward and backward in time are completely instantaneous because of the opposite-direction returning wave.  From the viewpoint of our intuition which is grounded in our biological grasping of the laws of normal reality, these ideas of are quite nonsensical.  After all, nothing has ever been known to go backwards in time and everything that happens takes at least a little time to happen.  And, what in tarnation is a quantum wave, anyway?  If we can’t see, hear, feel or taste any such thing, or tune it in with an electronic device, why should we believe that it exists?  From the viewpoint of physics and its mathematics, however, the situation is not so simple.  The equations of all of the fundamental laws of classical as well as quantum physics appear to work perfectly fine going backwards in time as well is forward. Just substitute (-t) for (t).  That is, they display symmetry regard to time.

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*Abstract of Cramer’s 1986 paper: “The interpretational problems of quantum mechanics are considered. The way in which the standard Copenhagen Interpretation (CI) of quantum mechanics deals with these problems is reviewed. A new interpretation of the formalism of quantum mechanics, the Transactional Interpretation (TI), is presented. The basic element of TI is the transaction describing a quantum event as an exchange of advanced and retarded waves, as implied by the work of Wheeler and Feynman, Dirac, and others. The TI is explicitly nonlocal and thereby consistent with recent tests of the Bell Inequality, yet is relativistically invariant and fully causal. A detailed comparison of the TI and CI is made in the context of well known quantum mechanical gedanken experiments and “paradoxes”. The TI permits quantum mechanical wave functions to be interpreted as real waves physically present in space rather than as “mathematical representations of knowledge” as in the CI. The TI is shown to provide insight into the complex character of the quantum mechanical state vector and the mechanism associated with its “collapse”. The TI also leads in a natural way to justification of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the Born probability law [P=*], basic elements of the CI.”

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What we see as the arrow of time  is inexorably increasing entropy, which has to do with asymmetry in thermodynamics which is also a time asymmetry in information transfer. Entropy is a measure of thermodynamic disorganization which always increases in any closed system, a measure with scientific history going back to the 1850’s (ref).  For example, entropy dictates that you never see smoke gathering itself up in the sky and going down a smokestack or pieces of a broken wine glass leaping up off the floor and reassembling themselves as the glass. That is because vastly more information is required to track each particle of smoke and send it back down the chimney than is required for smoke coming out the chimney and billowing out in the normal time direction. Likewise, vastly more information is required to identify the characteristics and positions of every particle of broken glass and reassemble of them into the original glass then would be required to run the movie in the normal forward direction.  The equations of Shannon Weaver information theory (ref) and the equations of statistical dynamics are identical, in fact.  And entropy and information are just different interpretations of the same equation. This asymmetry between forward in time and backwards in time is clearly and manifestly true in terms of classical physics. We experience it all the time.  However, many researchers have argued that this need not at all be the case for quantum physics. In other words, the fundamental barrier to going backwards in time need not exist on the quantum level.  That is the main topic I explore in this blog entry.  In particular, I explore retrocausation.  Events in the future effecting events in the past.

In terms of the physics and mathematics of the situation, having quantum waves go backwards in time is no problem. Again this makes no sense to us in terms of the sensory and nervous system processing capabilities provided to us as animals. Virtually everything that we read in science texts make no cognitive sense whatsoever to a worm, caterpillar, mouse or deer in a forest.  As biological creatures they as well as we humans have been evolved so as to have direct perception only of the matters most in the interest of their survival.  But we know there is much that is very real that we cannot directly perceive, like radio and TV waves, and virus and bacteria that can make us sick.

What we perceive to be real is a function of history and culture and technology of the times.  It would make no sense for most people two hundred years ago to be told that that there are invisible waves surrounding us full of sights and sounds, though we know that is so now because of TV. And for most of our human history we were unaware of bacteria and viruses as causes of infectious diseases.   Relatively few people understand the Maxwell equations governing the transmission of radio and television and cell phone waves but virtually everybody now believes that they exist. This is despite the fact that we cannot touch, smell, taste, hear or feel them or in any way perceive them without the aid of electronic circuitry. We are just not used to the incredible non-intuitive concepts of quantum physics, although we are necessarily utilizing quantum phenomena all the time for our very survival. And, most educated people say they believe in it although they do not begin to comprehend it. My suggestion is followed the math you are capable of doing so. For example, read the research articles cited below and seek to understand mathematics they puts forward.

A popular explanation of this recent research on retrocausatuion can be found in the July 2018 Science Daily article Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers  Here are some selected quotes from that publication and my reactions to them (in red):

“Watch a movie backwards and you’ll likely get confused — but a quantum computer wouldn’t. That’s the conclusion of researcher Mile Gu at the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University and collaborators. — In research published 18 July in Physical Review X, the international team show that a quantum computer is less in thrall to the arrow of time than a classical computer. In some cases, it’s as if the quantum computer doesn’t need to distinguish between cause and effect at all. — In everyday life, understanding what will happen next is easier if you know what just happened, and what happened before that. —  the fundamental laws of physics are ambivalent about whether time moves forwards or in reverse.”  Unidirectional cause-and-effect as we know it appears to be a function of the arrow of time in macroscopic decoherent systems, ultimately having to do with increasing entropy in normal reality.

“The most exciting thing for us is the possible connection with the arrow of time,” says Thompson, first author on the work. “If causal asymmetry is only found in classical models, it suggests our perception of cause and effect, and thus time, can emerge from enforcing a classical explanation on events in a fundamentally quantum world,” she says.  We are fundamentally in a quantum world and trying to see it through our biological filters of normal sensory reality simply doesn’t work.  We need to grow up and give that up if we want to understand what is really going on.

Selections from the original 2018 publication Causal Asymmetry in a Quantum World:

“The fundamental laws of physics work in the same way whether time moves forward or backward. Yet, while a glass can fall and scatter shards across the floor, glass shards never gather together and leap back onto the counter to form a complete glass. The source of this temporal asymmetry is one of the deepest mysteries in physics. We tackle this problem by combining two different disciplines, computational and quantum mechanics. Our results illustrate that the asymmetry could emerge from forcing classical causal explanations on observations in a fundamentally quantum world.”   Scientists who do this need to Grow Up if they are really concerned with the nature of reality!

“Computational mechanics asks the following question: Given a sequence of observations, how many past causes must we postulate to explain future behavior? This quantity is asymmetric when time is reversed. There is an unavoidable memory overhead cost for modeling a process in the “less-natural” temporal direction—one must pay a price to enforce explanations adhering to a less-favored order of events. — We show that quantum models always mitigate this overhead. Not only can we construct quantum models that need less past information than optimal classical counterparts, these models can always be reprogrammed to model the time-reversed process without additional memory cost. This remains true even for observational data where this classical overhead diverges, such that all classical models for the less-natural temporal direction require unbounded memory. — We illustrate scenarios where classical favoritism for particular causal orders vanishes when quantum models are permitted, thus highlighting a new mechanism for the origin of time’s arrow.”  Talking about less overhead in classical models from going from past to future is like saying you need much more information in going from future to past – so this is just another way of talking about entropy in classical models.

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  • “A stochastic process can be modeled in either temporal order. (a) A causal model takes information available in the past ←xand uses it to make statistically accurate predictions about the process’s conditional future behavior P(→X|←X=←x). (b) A retrocausal model replicates the system’s behavior, as seen by an observer who scans the outputs from right to left, encountering Xt+1 before Xt. Thus, it stores relevant future information →x, in order to generate a statistically accurate retrodiction of the past P(←X|→X=→x). Causal asymmetry implies a nonzero gap between the minimum memory required by any causal model C+ and its retrocausal counterpart C−.”  The memory required for retrocausality in a quantum system is the same or less as that for causality.

Implications are that retrocausality – events now or in the future affecting events or situations in the past – is no problem at the quantum level.  My fundamental proposition is that Intentional Reality Creation is basically a quantum phenomenon on the macroscopic scale.  As explained below, sending macroscopic messages backwards in time is impossible, because of thermodynamic/information considerations.  However, creating events and situations in the past may be going on all the time due to retrocaustion.   The suggestion is that we cannot send messages into the past but can to a significant extend dictate to the past to have been as how we want it to have been!  Holly bananas! Why do we not notice this?  Probably because evolutionary biology does not require such noticing and further, such noticing would confuse us endlessly.

Next, let’s turn to a 2017 publication Physicists provide support for retrocausal quantum theory, in which the future influences the past.

This article points out that allowing for retrocausality is much less of a violation of what we think we know about physics than the alternative which requires we accept “spooky action at a distance.”  Accepting retrocausality makes some of the worst paradoxes of quantum physics – liken “spooky action at a distance” go away.   “Although there are many counterintuitive ideas in quantum theory, the idea that influences can travel backwards in time (from the future to the past) is generally not one of them. However, recently some physicists have been looking into this idea, called it “retrocausality,” because it can potentially resolve some long-standing puzzles in quantum physics. In particular, if retrocausality is allowed, then the famous Bell tests can be interpreted as evidence for retrocausality and not for action-at-a-distance—a result that Einstein and others skeptical of that “spooky” property may have appreciated.”  For example, if two correlated particles are emitted from a common source and go running off in opposite directions, then one must have + spin and the other must have – spin.  But there is no way to distinguish which is which until a measurement is made.  Experimentally this has been shown.  If one has + spin then the other surely has – spin, and the other way around.  This holds no matter how far the particles have traveled apart, apparently even over stellar distances.  The paradox arises if the particles have traveled far enough and the measurements made so quickly one after another, that there is not time at the speed of light for a signal to get from the first measured particles when its spin is measured to the second particle when its spin is measured.  The second particles “knows” what spin it must have, measurements indicate, the very instant the spin of the first particle is measured.  So this information must be transmitted instantly somehow over long distances, violating the principal that nothing ever ever in the universe travels faster than light.  This is a rock solid Einstein conclusion from relativity theory that has held solid for well over 100 years now.  Now allow retrocausation and what happens is that when the spin of the first particle is measured, that spin is set back at the time when the pair of particles was emitted, and also the spin was simultaneously set for the second particle.  The paradox of a mysterious signal faster than light goes away.  Retrocausality thus permits a simple explanation of what otherwise would violate a fundamental principle of physics.

Note that in this example, it is the very act of measurement that triggered retrocausation.  As we will see, this is very relevant for IRC where the formulation of an unbounded intention IS the act of measurement.  In my treatise, retrocausation is discussed in the Cramer interpretation as due to a “quantum query wave moving backward in time looking for possible past conditions that would lead to satisfaction of the intention.”  And retrocausation was discussed there in the multiple-worlds interpretation in terms of “a successful intention shifting the intender into a submanifold of universes where past and future conditions are favorable to satisfaction of the intention.”  This blog entry uses other frameworks for discussing retroccausation, but the underlying concept is the same.  From the above-cited publication, where again comments in red and parentheses are mine.

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Fig 1

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Can Bell correlations be explained by retrocausal influences? Figure 1 shows an influence diagram representing the possible causal influences in a model with no retrocausality. Credit: Leifer and Pusey. ©2017 The Royal Society. — In a new paper published in Proceedings of The Royal Society Aphysicists Matthew S. Leifer at Chapman University and Matthew F. Pusey at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics have lent new theoretical support for the argument that, if certain reasonable-sounding assumptions are made, then quantum theory must be retrocausal.”

The appeal of retrocausality

First, to clarify what retrocausality is and isn’t: It does not mean that signals can be communicated from the future to the past—such signaling would be forbidden even in a retrocausal theory due to thermodynamic reasons. Instead, retrocausality means that, when an experimenter chooses the measurement setting with which to measure a particle, that decision can influence the properties of that particle (or another particle) in the past, even before the experimenter made their choice. In other words, a decision made in the present can influence something in the past.  Instantly.

In the case of IRC, where an unbounded intention corresponds to an Operator in classical QM, specifying an intention where the intention itself makes clear what must be observed for it to be satisfied, can influence past events or conditions so as to lead to satisfaction of the intention.  The disquieting implication is that the past is not manifest but exists as complex quantum wave functions of what could have existed.  The past mostly consists of wave functions of possibilities.  Note that the past also consist of “collapsed” wave functions of believed past realities, things that make it “real”  such as in memories, historical records, geological artifacts, photographs and astronomical and terrestrial observations.)  In my treatise and in past blog entries, in particular in WHAT’S ALREADY DONE ISN’T NECESSARILY DONE YET, I explain the same situation by saying the past is vastly undetermined and is fixed only insofar experience records are concerned.

In the original Bell tests, physicists assumed that retrocausal influences could not happen. Consequently, in order to explain their observations that distant particles seem to immediately know what measurement is being made on the other, the only viable explanation was action-at-a-distance. That is, the particles are somehow influencing each other even when separated by large distances, in ways that cannot be explained by any known mechanism. But by allowing for the possibility that the measurement setting for one particle can retrocausally influence the behavior of the other particle, there is no need for action-at-a-distance—only retrocausal influence.  Actually in physics, it is far less disruptive of theory to honor retrocausality than spooky instantaneous action at a distance.

One of the main proponents of retrocausality in quantum theory is Huw Price, a philosophy professor at the University of Cambridge. In 2012, Price laid out an argument suggesting that any quantum theory that assumes that 1) the quantum state is real, and 2) the quantum world is time-symmetric (that physical processes can run forwards and backwards while being described by the same physical laws) must allow for retrocausal influences. Understandably, however, the idea of retrocausality has not caught on with physicists in general.

“There is a small group of physicists and philosophers that think this idea is worth pursuing, including Huw Price and Ken Wharton [a physics professor at San José State University],” Leifer told Phys.org. “There is not, to my knowledge, a generally agreed upon interpretation of quantum theory that recovers the whole theory and exploits this idea. It is more of an idea for an interpretation at the moment, so I think that other physicists are rightly skeptical, and the onus is on us to flesh out the idea.”  A video presentation by Hue Price on retrocausality can be found here.

“In the new study, Leifer and Pusey attempt to do this by generalizing Price’s argument, which perhaps makes it more appealing in light of other recent research. They begin by removing Price’s first assumption, so that the argument holds whether the quantum state is real or not—a matter that is still of some debate. A quantum state that is not real would describe physicists’ knowledge of a quantum system rather than being a true physical property of the system. Although most research suggests that the quantum state is real, it is difficult to confirm one way or the other, and allowing for retrocausality may provide insight into this question. Allowing for this openness regarding the reality of the quantum state is one of the main motivations for investigating retrocausality in general, Leifer explained.”

“The reason I think that retrocausality is worth investigating is that we now have a slew of no-go results about realist interpretations of quantum theory, including Bell’s theorem, Kochen-Specker, and recent proofs of the reality of the quantum state,” he said. “These say that any interpretation that fits into the standard framework for realist interpretations must have features that I would regard as undesirable. Therefore, the only options seem to be to abandon realism or to break out of the standard realist framework.”

“Abandoning realism is quite popular, but I think that this robs science of much of its explanatory power and so it is better to find realist accounts where possible. The other option is to investigate more exotic realist possibilities, which include retrocausality, relationalism, and many-worlds. Aside from many-worlds, these have not been investigated much, so I think it is worth pursuing all of them in more detail. I am not personally committed to the retrocausal solution over and above the others, but it does seem possible to formulate it rigorously and investigate it, and I think that should be done for several of the more exotic possibilities.”

Can’t have both time symmetry and no-retrocausality

“In their paper, Leifer and Pusey also reformulate the usual idea of time symmetry in physics, which is based on reversing a physical process by replacing t with –t in the equations of motion. The physicists develop a stronger concept of time symmetry here in which reversing a process is not only possible but that the probability of occurrence is the same whether the process is going forward or backward.”

“The physicists’ main result is that a quantum theory that assumes both this kind of time symmetry and that retrocausality is not allowed runs into a contradiction. They describe an experiment illustrating this contradiction, in which the time symmetry assumption requires that the forward and backward processes have the same probabilities, but the no-retrocausality assumption requires that they are different.”

“So ultimately everything boils down to the choice of whether to keep time symmetry or no-retrocausality, as Leifer and Pusey’s argument shows that you can’t have both. Since time symmetry appears to be a fundamental physical symmetry, they argue that it makes more sense to allow for retrocausality. Doing so would eliminate the need for action-at-a-distance in Bell tests, and it would still be possible to explain why using retrocausality to send information is forbidden.”

“The case for embracing retrocausality seems stronger to me for the following reasons,” Leifer said. “First, having retrocausality potentially allows us to resolve the issues raised by other no-go theorems, i.e., it enables us to have Bell correlations without action-at-a-distance. So, although we still have to explain why there is no signaling into the past, it seems that we can collapse several puzzles into just one. That would not be the case if we abandon time symmetry instead.

Second, we know that the existence of an arrow of time already has to be accounted for by thermodynamic arguments, i.e., it is a feature of the special boundary conditions of the universe and not itself a law of physics.   Since the ability to send signals only into the future and not into the past is part of the definition of the arrow of time, it seems likely to me that the inability to signal into the past in a retrocausal universe could also come about from special boundary conditions, and does not need to be a law of physics. Time symmetry seems less likely to emerge in this way (in fact, we usually use thermodynamics to explain how the apparent time asymmetry that we observe in nature arises from time-symmetric laws, rather than the other way round).”

“As the physicists explain further, the whole idea of retrocausality is so difficult to accept because we don’t ever see it anywhere else. (Actually I am suggesting we see it all the time with IRC,  We just don’t recognize that is what is going on.) The same is true of action-at-a-distance. But that doesn’t mean that we can assume that no-retrocausality and no-action-at-a-distance are true of reality in general. In either case, physicists want to explain why one of these properties emerges only in certain situations that are far removed from our everyday observations.  (If IRC goes on using mechanisms of retrocausality, not at all removed)

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