@MISC{Weinert_minkowskispace-time, author = {Friedel Weinert}, title = {Minkowski Space-Time and Thermodynamics}, year = {} }

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Abstract

I. Ever since Minkowski published his four-dimensional representation of space-time, the dominant view in physics and philosophy has been that time is a fourth dimension such that human perception of change and the passage of time is a mere illusion, due to our particular slicing of space-time. But four-dimensional space-time is a block universe. This conclusion takes the form of an inference from the measurable and observable evidence. Traditionally the block universe was inferred from the stipulation of relative simultaneity as a consequence of the Special theory of relativity (STR) (Eddington, Einstein, Gödel). But newer defences infer a static block universe from the well-known relativisitic effects: length contraction, time dilation, the twin paradox. The argument states that such relativistic effects would be impossible in a three-dimensional world. As they occur and are observed, it is legitimate to infer a) that the physical world is four-dimensional, and not just a mathematical representation, and b) that this four-dimensional world is static and timeless. (Lockwood 2005; Petkov 2005, Ch. 4) Yet it is by no means clear that Minkowski himself was a believer in the block universe. In his 1908 Cologne lecture on ‘Space and Time ’ he speaks of a four-dimensional physics but concedes that a ‘necessary ’ time order can be established at every world point. The conception of the block universe, however, focuses on Minkowski’s geometric approach, which is based on his world postulate. But an alternative view has been in circulation since the 1910s according to which the nature of space-time has to be based on the behaviour of light. (Robb 1914,