© 1989

The Physical Basis of the Direction of Time


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-VIII
  2. H.-Dieter Zeh
    Pages 1-7
  3. H.-Dieter Zeh
    Pages 8-11
  4. H.-Dieter Zeh
    Pages 12-30
  5. H.-Dieter Zeh
    Pages 31-69
  6. H.-Dieter Zeh
    Pages 70-103
  7. H.-Dieter Zeh
    Pages 134-148
  8. H.-Dieter Zeh
    Pages 149-151
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 153-166

About this book


This book arose from a series of lectures which I gave at the University of Heidelberg during the summer terms of 1979,1982 and 1986. They led in 1984 the publication in German of Die Physik der Zeitrichtung, which appeared to as Vol. 200 of the Springer Lecture Notes in Physics. The present English version is not merely a translation of these notes, but has been widely revised and extended. The number of changes and additions roughly increases with chapter number. Chaps. 5 and 6 have been completely rewritten (except for Sect. 5. 1, which is a revised version of the former § 5. 2). The new title is intended to express the somewhat more ambitious program of this book as compared to its German predecessor. My interest in this subject stemmed originally from an attempt to place the quantum mechanical measurement process in its proper relation to other irreversible phenomena. It soon became evident that statistical thermody­ namics is too limited for the search for the common roots of the obviously related arrows of time. It is precisely the interconnectedness of many areas of physics, and not least their relation to some fundamental concepts (or per­ haps prejudices) of epistemology, which sustained my fascination with the subject of this book over many years. Thus it was not my intention to de­ scribe technicalities or mathematical problems, but to point out the essential physical ideas (which are often overlooked).


Zeitbegriff arrow of time cosmology general relativity physical notion of time physikalische Zeitpfeil relativity thermodynamics universe

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Theoretische PhysikUniversität HeidelbergHeidelbergFed. Rep. of Germany

Bibliographic information



"The presentation is clear and readable. The book gives an excellent overview of the phenomena which characterize a direction of time like radiation, thermodynamics, quantum indeterminism and the structure of black holes.”

"…I recommend this book to those willing to devote serious effort to learning part of the subject.”

"…an excellent summary of what is known at present about this fascinating mystery.”



"The book contains an impressive (we’d say exhaustive) list of references: almost 300 titles (papers and books)…We have to mention the high scientific value of the book, its rigorous well-documented discussion of the subject, refinement and subtlety of its reasonings. We strongly recommend it to students and specialists in various fields of theoretical physics.”