Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Time Reversal and the like. Can we know the logically impossible to be possible?

John A. Wheeler, re A Life in Physics, page 347, commented in effect as follows:  You will say that the time reversal view of a torn piece of paper being ‘untorn' could never happen.  But in fact it could happen albeit with an incredibly small probability.  You and the universe won’t live or exist long enough to see it happen, yet in principle two torn sheets could weld themselves into a single mammoth sheet.  And the molecules of perfume that have spread to fill a room could migrate back and regather on the starlet who entered the room.

Wheeler’s argument appears to be then that no matter how unlikely the possible, the improbable is not the same as the impossible.
There are clearly several things wrong with this argument, logically as well as scientifically.  First, how did the reversal of a change somehow become a reversal of the “time” it took to make the change and then reverse it?  That would appear to be the problem whether time is seen as a separate dimension or a measure of the ongoing changes of all other dimensions in the here and now.
And if time is in fact a measure of the rate of change, then the sequence of those changes will continue to move in the direction that allows each bit of sequence to replace the other but never to effectively undo each others “doing.”  A happened sequence in other words cannot have never happened.
Further, a scientific theory that fails to recognize the role of purpose in all of the events it studies is not a proper demonstration of scientific logic.  A situation where nature will inevitably find some purpose for reversing the strategic processes that led over countless eons to the evolution of its regulated laws is simply not going to occur, as an intelligently devised strategy allowing it to start all of its systems over and reinvent those laws will not be found. If any thing is impossible, changing the beginnings of a system that has theoretically had no beginning seems to be that thing.

But, to take another tack, can’t something be illogically possible?  And if so, then anything is logically possible, right?  No.  Why not?  By our definition of sense and nonsense, okay?
But then, on the one hand, am I not playing with the necessary ambiguity of our words in order to offer evidence of the clearly impossible?  Yes, but on the other hand, I’d be violating all the rules of the game to claim to know, logically or illogically, that the logically impossible is possible.