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New Scientist on information: More fundamental than matter and energy?

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Are they growing up over there? From Anil Ananthaswamy at New Scientist:

But what is this information? Is it “ontological” – a real thing from which space, time and matter emerge, just as an atom emerges from fundamental particles such as electrons and quarks and gluons? Or is it “epistemic” – something that just represents our state of knowledge about reality?

Here opinions are divided. Cosmologist Paul Davies argues in the book Information and the Nature of Reality that information “occupies the ontological basement”. In other words, it is not about something, it is itself something. Sean Carroll at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena disagrees. Even if all of reality emerges from information, he says, this information is just knowledge about the universe’s basic quantum state.(paywall) More.

Well, if we must choose between the cautious Paul Davies’ concerns and Sean Carroll’s war on falsifiability, we should ask whether science really matters a whole lot compared to what dope the Cool crowd smokes now.

<em>Teapot</em> Cobalt Blue We remember, a while back, when New Scientist astounded us: Information is physical. Right up there with the Boltzmann brains. It’s nice to see them break out of the mold now and then.

See also: Data basic: An introduction to information theory


The war on falsifiability in science continues

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One Reply to “New Scientist on information: More fundamental than matter and energy?

  1. 1
    Otangelo Grasso says:

    What comes first, mind or matter?


    Max Planck, theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918
    “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

    Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician. He received a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963
    “It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

    R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University , “The Mental Universe” ; Nature 436:29,2005) ? He wrote:
    “A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction.

    Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote:
    “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.”

    Sir Arthur Eddington explained:
    “It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character.”

    Newton called light “particles”, knowing the concept to be an ‘effective theory’ — useful, not true. As noted by Newton’s biographer Richard Westfall:
    “The ultimate cause of atheism, Newton asserted, is ‘this notion of bodies having, as it were, a complete, absolute and independent reality in themselves.’” Newton knew of Newton’s rings and was untroubled by what is shallowly called ‘wave/particle duality’.

    The notion that random molecular movement and “emergence” from this can explain subjective experience is a bankrupt theory. The word “emergence” is used when the mechanism is not understood. 3

    Einstein’s Gulf: Can Evolution cross it? by John Oller, Ph.d

    The mind cannot emerge from matter


    Albert Einstein,undoubtedly one of the greatest scientists of all time, described the “gulf’ that logically separates the concrete world of hard objects on the one hand from the abstract world of ideas on the other. He wrote: We have the habit of combining certain concepts and conceptual relations (propositions) so definitely with certain sense experiences that we do not become conscious of the gulf-logically unbridgeable which separates the world of sensory experiences from the world of concepts and propositions

    On the one side, we find the real world of objects, events, and tensional spacetime relations. On the other side, we find fully abstract representations that contain information about the material world. That articulate information is abstracted first by our senses, secondarily by our bodily actions, and tertiarily by our ability to use one or more particular languages . Between the two realms we find what appears to be an uncrossable gulf.

    A small part of the materialists problem is that hard objects are never observed spontaneously to transform themselves (on their own recognizance) into abstract ideas.

    Albert Einstein, “Remarks on Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge,” The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, Vol. 5 of The Library of Living Philosophers, editor Paul Arthur Schilpp (LaSalle, Illinois, Open Court, 1944), p. 289.

    I am convinced that … the concepts which arise in our thought and in our linguistic expressions are all—when viewed logically—the free creations of thought which cannot inductively be gained from sense experiences. … we have the habit of combining certain concepts and conceptual relations (propositions) so definitely with certain sense experiences that we do not become conscious of the gulf—logically unbridgeable—which separates the world of sensory experiences from the world of concepts and propositions

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