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In this chapter, spacetime is identified as the empirical realm, to be understood in a relational sense. The spacetime construct emerges from the quantum substratum by way of actualized transactions, which establish spacetime events and their structural connections. This process is discussed in terms of causal set theory. The quantum substratum constitutes the reference for “absolute motion,” and rest-mass systems in the substratum define inertial frames. The transactional process breaks time symmetry, thus establishing an arrow of time and shedding light on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Implications for free will are also discussed.
Providing a comprehensive exposition of the transactional interpretation (TI) of quantum mechanics, this book sheds new light on long-standing problems in quantum theory such as the physical meaning of the 'Born Rule' for the probabilities of measurement results, and demonstrates the ability of TI to solve the measurement problem of quantum mechanics. It provides robust refutations of various objections and challenges to TI, such as Maudlin's inconsistency challenge, and explicitly extends TI into the relativistic domain, providing new insight into the basic compatibility of TI with relativity and the meaning of 'virtual particles.' It breaks new ground in approaches to interpreting quantum theory and presents a compelling new ontological picture of quantum reality. This substantially revised and updated second edition is ideal for researchers and graduate students interested in the philosophy of physics and the interpretation of quantum mechanics.
Can we 'see' photons, black holes, curved spacetime, quantum jumps, the expansion of the universe, or quanta of space? Physics challenges appearances, showing convincingly that our everyday vision of reality is limited, approximate and badly incomplete. Established theories such as quantum theory and general relativity and investigations like loop quantum gravity have a reputation of obscurity. Many suggest that science is forcing us into a counterintuitive and purely mathematical understanding of reality. I disagree. I think that there is a visionary core at the root of the best science. Where 'visionary' truly means formed by visual images. Our mind, even when dealing with abstract and difficult notions, relies on images, metaphors and, ultimately, vision. Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, science is not just about making predictions: it is about understanding, and, for this, developing new eyes to see. I shall illustrate this point with some concrete cases, including the birth of quantum theory in Einstein’s intuition, curved spacetimes and quanta of space.
Thanks to the second law, entropy is the concept by wich the arrow of time can be expressed. Irreversibility is defined as internal production of heat. Work by compression of a gas is analysed for both reversible and irreversible processes, making obvious the difference between the internal pressure, which is the conjugate of the volume, and the external pressure associated with the force exerted on a piston. Chemical potentials are defined as the conjugate of the number of moles of substances contained in the system. Chemical reactions are readily seen as source of entropy production. Simple systems are defined, playing a role analogous to point masses in mechanics. Evolution of simple systems is worked out when they are subjected to heat and mechanical action.
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