Arrow of time  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In the natural sciences, arrow of time, or time’s arrow, is a term coined in 1927 by British astronomer Arthur Eddington used to distinguish a direction of time on a four-dimensional relativistic map of the world, which, according to Eddington, can be determined by a study of organizations of atoms, molecules, and bodies.

Physical processes at the microscopic level are believed to be either entirely or mostly time symmetric, meaning that the theoretical statements that describe them remain true if the direction of time is reversed; yet when we describe things at the macroscopic level it often appears that this is not the case: there is an obvious direction (or flow) of time. An arrow of time is anything that exhibits such time-asymmetry.

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