Is there a second arrow of time? New research says yes

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You may be familiar with the “arrow of time,” but did you know there could be a second one?

Dr. Robert Hazen, staff scientist at the Earth and Planets Laboratory of Carnegie Science in Washington, DC, thinks that a single arrow of time may be too limiting. A second arrow, which he dubs “the law of increasing functional information,” takes evolution into account. Specifically, Hazen explains that evolution seems to not only incorporate time, but also function and purpose.

Consider a coffee cup: it works best when holding your coffee, but it could also work as a paperweight, and it would not work well at all as a screwdriver. Hazen explains that it appears the universe uses a similar way of evolving not only biology, but other complex systems throughout the cosmos. 

This idea suggests that while as the universe ages and expands, it is becoming more organized and functional, nearly opposite to theories surrounding increasing cosmological disorder. Hazen suggests that these two “arrows” – one of entropy and one of organized information – could very well run parallel to one another. If true, this theory could be groundbreaking in the way we perceive time, evolution, and the very fabric of reality. 

This video Is there a second arrow of time? New research says yes is featured on Big Think.

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