Klear wrote:I admit that I'm going by common sense more than I should - I know that in these kinds of thought experiments it is a dangerous thing to do.
Still, the way I see it, the room where you are throwing your coffee is packed with air molecules which bounce off each other and I imagine them being in some kind relative equilibrium. Furthermore, the air molecules behave in a different way than the molecules of the coffee and milk. Is there enough room/energy/time for such radical change to the natural behaviour of a lump of coffee?
Would it be theoretically possible for the random movements of air to, say, throw a paperweight down from a table in this way? Could they in theory topple a car standing in a garage? Or a steamroller? I think there is some limit to what is at all possible, if improbable. The question then is whether the separation of coffee and milk falls under this limit.
Like I said, common sense doesn't help much though I don't have the required knowledge to use instead. I'm just voicing my doubt.
At the particle level, you have gas particles bouncing off each other, and off solid particles, which are mostly held in place by electrostatic forces - some gas particles stick and some solid particles get knocked loose, and there are small chunks of solid flying around like colossal gas particles, but the main thing is you just have particles interacting in simple ways - none of those large-scale concepts like "car" or "garage" or "tornado". At the level of particle interaction, provided you don't have radioactive decay involved, time is reversible - if you could take a snapshot of a large-enough, well-enough isolated region, and reverse the velocity of every particle in it, then those particles would interact under the same laws of physics and reverse recent events, just like running a video backwards, until either quantum randomness, or the influence of the outside, or both, managed to make a noticeable difference in the course of events.
Given that you could take a car stood on its side and nudge it so it falls down flat, in principle, with sufficiently advanced technology and enough power, you could recreate the vibrations in the ground and the motion of the air so that they'd converge on the car and flip it up onto its side. The more advanced your technology, and the more resources you have to spend, the further in advance you could set things up to flip the car - up to the point where quantum uncertainty prevents you from controlling the outcome sufficiently precisely.
What we could do with sufficient effort, blind chance and natural forces could also do, but it would take a ludicrously long time, or a ludicrously large number of cars and garages.
It's more likely that I'd serve a term as US President than that white coffee chucked in the air would separate out and land in the appropriate containers - and I am not, and never have been, a US citizen...