Time is the increase of order, not disorder

Towards a new arrow of time

The received view in physics is that the direction of time is provided by the second law of thermodynamics, according to which the passage of time is measured by ever-increasing disorder in the universe. This view, Julian Barbour argues, is wrong. If we reject Newton’s faulty assumptions about the existence of absolute space and time, Newtonian dynamics can be shown to provide a very different arrow of time. Its direction, according to this theory, is given by the increase in the complexity and order of a system of particles, exactly the opposite of what the received view about time suggests.


Two of the most established beliefs of contemporary cosmology are that the universe is expanding and that the direction of the arrow of time in the universe is defined by ever-increasing disorder (entropy), as described by the second law of thermodynamics. But both of these beliefs rest on shaky ground. In saying tha

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Peter Mason 2 August 2022

You come across this a lot. A person hears "the universe is expanding" and naturally assumes that everything is getting bigger uniformly - not just the space between sets of gravitationally attracted galaxies, (galaxy clusters), as it is properly understood, but even the stars themselves, and you and I too. Hence the author of this post states that if this latter assumption was correct (which unfortunately it is not) you would need to have a measure outside of the universe to establish it. This rather self evident fact suggests that the author is not only entirely unacquainted with the most basic concepts of modern science, but also has a very low opinion of the scientific community - and perhaps quite a high opinion of his own.

Gabriele Lazzarini 1 August 2022

This idea is really interesting and it really helps give Newton's law a modern framework. I would be curious to see if simulations can be run that can prove it