Physicists are finally getting their heads round what information truly is – and using it to gain new insights into life, the universe and, well… everything
11 December 2019
By Josh Howgego
AS THE messages ping, notifications buzz and headlines scream for your attention, it is easy to think you could do with a little less information. That’s bog-standard “semantic” information. It encapsulates a nugget of knowledge: a friend’s status, a place and time to meet, or the fact that the sky is blue.
Over the past century, though, physicists have dug deep into what information truly means, and uncovered deep links between it and the fabric of reality. We’re likely to be hearing a lot more of this type of information.
This all started with studies of the second law of thermodynamics, the uniquely powerful rule that describes the fundamental direction of processes in the universe. It says that stars always burn out, ice cream always melts, warm air always escapes out of a window left ajar. These processes are encapsulated by a rise in the quantity known as entropy, which measures how disordered something is on the atomic scale. More disorder means higher entropy.
Did You See This CB Softwares?
37 SOFTWARE TOOLS... FOR $27!?Join Affiliate Bots Right Away
What does this have to do with information? Well, the more ordered something is, the less information you need to fully describe it: compare describing a box of identical buttons with one filled with buttons in 20 different colours. In 1948, the US engineer Claude Shannon used this thermodynamic connection to come up with a new, more abstract definition of information, divorcing it from having to actually be about anything.
“Deep connections exist between information and reality’s fabric”
Abstract – and yet very real, as recent experiments have shown. In 2015, for …