This law of nature has been hidden from science – until now | Robert Hazen

From Big Think.

This interview is an episode from ‪@The-Well‬, our publication about ideas that inspire a life well-lived, created with the ‪@JohnTempletonFoundation‬.

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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.

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About Robert Hazen:

Robert Hazen is a renowned American mineralogist and geologist, known for his pioneering work in mineral evolution and mineral ecology. He is a Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory and a Professor of Earth Sciences at George Mason University.

Hazen has written over 400 articles and 25 books, contributing research as a profound leader in mineral evolution and mineral ecology. His studies delve into the complex interactions between minerals and life, contributing to our understanding of Earth’s history and the potential for life on other planets. Hazen is also a passionate educator and science communicator.


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