Death near Trieste
On September 5, 1906, in a wonderful resort town called Duino, near Trieste, then belonging to Austro-Hungary, Ludwig Boltzmann hung himself in a hotel while on vacation with his wife and daughter. What made a successful physicist from Vienna to terminate his life so drastically? His lectures attracted hundreds of students, no lecture hall could accommodate all those who were eager to listen to a great scientist. He was happily married with three daughters and two sons. Money was not an issue either. Most likely, as many tend to think now, Boltzmann was mentally stressed by irreversibility of time. All the laws of physics at the microscopic level (for instance the Newtonian mechanics) are time reversible. In other words, past is not different from the future. At the macroscopic level, however, time irreversibility rules, for instance we all are getting older, no one of us gets younger with the flow of time.
Boltzmann’s ideas were quite advanced for his time. Frankly speaking at present we do not add a lot more to what he knew. The Universe started in one special event when all the matter and energy were located in one region. Then they started to spray away from that location, creating some structures on the way. We live in such a structure, say, the Solar system and we, humans, are result of the diffusion of the matter and energy form the initial state. Contemporary astronomy and physics give some details to this picture. Two decades ago we discovered that our Universe is expanding with an accelerating speed due to dark energy. This means that more and more galaxies will go forever beyond our cosmological horizon and the information from them will never reach us again. This will continue to the extent that in some time our galaxy will be alone in the visible Universe and eventually there will be nothing there. Any complex structures will be the outcome of quantum fluctuations. As a result there will be no arrow of time. In other words, if something has the beginning, then it develops and then decays – we may imagine the time direction. If, however, something comes into being through random processes, symmetry violations, space-time bifurcations, then it is extremely difficult to speak of any directionality.
In the nutshell, given the fact that you see the flow of time around us it is more likely that there were molecules in the University that incidentally stumbled upon one another to form your brain with all the thoughts, memories, recollections and expectations in it, than that there was a unique beginning with gradual unfolding of the history of the existent Universe.
It is interesting that the model of divine origin of the Universe seems to be as probable as the best models of physics. The ultimate difference is then in motivation: the scientific models push us to think further and try to discover new phenomena and better understand the discovered ones, whereas the divine origin models fail to sufficiently inspire us. It should be noted, however, that in the Middle Ages the belief in divine origin of the Universe was the foundation for scientific research and the source of unflagging drive to fathom deeper the mysteries of God’s creation.
If you happen to entertain your own view about the genesis of time irreversibility (or about the time itself, whether it is real or not) please share it with us by writing at firstname.lastname@example.org