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    Time, Physics, and History

    Bernard Bel

    par Bernard Bel

    1 920 vues
    C.K. Raju is the author of “Time: Towards a Consistent Theory” (Kluwer 1994), “The Eleven Pictures of Time” (Sage 2003), “Cultural Foundations of Mathematics” (Pearson Longman 2007) and “Is Science Western in Origin?” (Multiversity & Citizens International 2009). The main point of this talk is that religion penetrated science via time beliefs.

    Newton’s second law equates force to mass times acceleration. (…) A body is said to accelerate when it covers unequal distances in equal times. But what are equal times? Newton said that “absolute, true, and mathematical time flows on… regardless of anything external”. That is, he made time metaphysical. Why?

    Newton used the imported Indian calculus and infinite series which had developed in a very different cultural/philosophical milieu. The Indian understanding could not be reconciled with prevailing European religious beliefs about the perfection/universality of mathematics.

    In his analysis of Newtonian physics, Poincaré suggested the remedy was to define a clock by postulating the speed of light to be constant: this directly led to the special theory of relativity later attributed to Einstein. However Einstein overlooked the fact that knowledge of the present alone is not enough to determine the future…

    In mathematical terms, physics must be done using functional differential equations and not the ordinary differential equations of Newtonian physics. Unlike the situation in Poincaré’s time, today it is possible to solve such equations in a realistic physical setting.

    There is a further metaphysical aspect of time which needs to be eliminated: the doctrine of causality, i.e. the idea of a mechanical cosmos. Dropping causality amounts to using mixed-type functional differential equations. This leads to a history-dependent but non-mechanistic physics, in which future is only approximately decided, in principle, even from exact knowledge of past and present, as we commonly observe to be the case with biological organisms.