Foundations of Physics

, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp 849–863 | Cite as

On the origin of irreversibility in classical electrodynamic measurement processes

  • Darryl Leiter


We present a new formalism for the microscopic classical electrodynamics of point charges in which the dynamic absence of self-interactions is enforced by the action principle, without eliminating the field degrees of freedom. In this context, free local radiation fields are dynamically prohibited. Instead radiation is carried by charge-field functionals of the current which have a negative parity under mathematical time reversal. This leads to the dynamic requirement of a physical time arrow in the equations of motion in order to preserve the overall mathphysical time-reversal symmetry of the formalism. Since this physical time arrow emerges electrodynamically without the need of external thermodynamic or cosmological criteria, it offers a dynamical explanation for the origin of irreversibility in classical electrodynamic measurement processes.

“Science, like the arts, admits aesthetic criteria; it seeks theories that display ‘a proper conformity of the parts to one another and to the whole’ while still showing some strangeness in their proportion”—S. Chandrasekar.


Radiation Radiation Field Measurement Process Action Principle Point Charge 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darryl Leiter
    • 1
  1. 1.NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbelt

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