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August 27th, 2009
Is quantum mechanics messing with your memory?
Imagine if a cold cup of coffee spontaneously heated up as you watched. Or a cracked pane of glass suddenly un-broke. According to physicist Lorenzo Maccone at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you see things like this all the time - you just don't remember.
In a paper published last week in Physical Review Letters, he attempts to provide a solution to what has been called the mystery of "the arrow-of-time".
Briefly, the problem is that while our laws of physics are all symmetrical or "time-reversal invariant" - they apply equally well if time runs forwards or backwards - most of the everyday phenomena we observe, like the cooling of hot coffee, are not. They never seem to happen in reverse.
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