one from GEB

“One could suggest, for instance, that reality is itself nothing but one very complicated formal system. Its symbols do not move around on paper, but rather in a three-dimensional vacuum (space); they are the elementary particles of which everything is composed. (Tacit assumption: that there is an end to the descending chain of matter, so that the expression “elementary particles” makes sense.) The “typographical rules” are the laws of physics, which tell how, given the positions and velocities of all particles at a given instant, to modify them, resulting in a new set of positions and velocities belonging to the “next” instant. So the theorems of this grand formal system are the possible configurations of particles at different times in the history of the universe. The sole axiom is (or perhaps was) the original configurations of all the particles at the ‘beginning of time.’ This is so grandiose a conception, however, that it has only the most theoretical interest; and besides. Quantum mechanics casts at least some doubt on even the theoretical worth of this idea. Basically, we are asking if the universe operates deterministically, which is an open question.” – p. 54

[If we are to take Tom Stoppard's Arcadia as food for thought, it seems Thomasina was right by suggesting that the laws of Thermodynamics (even the combustion engine) repudiate this Newtonian species of Determinism. - ed. Summer 08]

[Maxwell thought of this asymmetry as well - ed March '09]
Written on July 7, 2007