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Dan Peterson Oral Defense

Monday, June 17, 2013
4:00 AM
1164 Angell Hall

Prospects for a New Account of Time Reversal

Prospects for a New Account of Time Reversal


Recent literature concerning the symmetry of time reversal has left unclear both what this symmetry is and what physical theories are invariant under it. In this dissertation, I argue that to understand how time reversal transforms physical states, we should seek symmetry transformations that meet minimal criteria of time reversal-hood under which all of the fundamental physical laws are invariant. If there is a unique transformation that emerges from this procedure, that transformation may be properly called time reversal. I apply my methodology to model worlds governed by various differential equations and examine the consequences of my account in each world. In the final chapter, I discuss the implications of failures of time reversal invariance in the fundamental laws for the nature of spacetime and conclude that two prima facie promising arguments for a connection between temporally asymmetric features of the laws and spacetime rest on questionable assumptions.