Chris Fields, for perhaps obvious reasons an independent researcher, offers a thesis that attempts to grapple with the nature of information in cosmology, as discussed at the Physics arXiv Blog:
In fact, Fields argues that it is the interaction between the cosmic microwave background and all large objects in the universe that causes them to decohere giving them specific positions which astronomers observe.
But there is an important consequence from having a specific position—there must be some information associated with this location in 3D space. If a location is unknown, then the amount of information must be small. But if it is known with precision, the information content is much higher.
And given that there are some 10^25 stars in the universe, that’s a lot of information. Fields calculates that encoding the location of each star to within 10 cubic kilometres requires some 10^93 bits.
That immediately leads to an entirely new way of determining the energy density of the cosmos. Back in the 1960s, the physicist Rolf Landauer suggested that every bit of information had an energy associated with it, an idea that has gained considerable traction since then.
So Fields uses Landauer’s principle to calculate the energy associated with the locations of all the stars in the universe. This turns out to be about 10^-30 g /cm^3, very similar to the observed energy density of the universe.
But here’s the thing. That calculation requires the position of each star to be encoded only to within 10 km^3. Fields also asks how much information is required to encode the position of stars to the much higher resolution associated with the Planck length. “Encoding 10^25 stellar positions at [the Planck length] would incur a free-energy cost ~ 10^117 larger than that found here,” he says.
That difference is remarkably similar to the 120 orders of magnitude discrepancy between the observed energy density and that calculated using quantum mechanics. More.
See also: Data Basic, a brief introduction to information
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