In “Reconstructing physics: The universe is information,” quantum physicists David Deutsch and Chiara Marletto tell us that the universe is information after all:
WHEN we consider some of the most striking phenomena permitted by the laws of physics – from human reasoning to computer technologies and the replication of genes – we find that information plays a central role. But, on the face of it, information is profoundly different from the basic entities that physical sciences use to describe reality. Neither quantum mechanics nor general relativity, the most fundamental theories in physics, provide a meaning for information or even a way of measuring it. And it has a “counterfactual” character: a message cannot carry information unless a different message is also possible.
Statements about information, they say, were long considered second class, but they have now come up with a “constructor theory” to change that.
The article is paywalled, but this is from behind the wall:
Ever since Galileo and Newton, this has been that the physical world is explained in terms of its state (describing everything that is there) and deterministic laws of motion (describing how the state changes with time). Only one outcome can result from a given initial state, so there is no room for anything else to be possible. Information cannot be expressed that way, because of its counterfactual character. It requires a new mode of explanation, one provided by our constructor theory. Its basic claim is that all laws of physics can be expressed entirely in terms of statements of which tasks – ie physical transformations – are possible and which impossible, and why.
A friend writes to say this idea as such isn’t news: Gitt, Compton, and Fernandez addressed these questions in Without Excuse (2011), outlining in detail the laws of information and its properties.
Probably no solution to problems of evolution will work if information is ignored. But that would mean dumping current materialism (and Darwin).
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One Reply to “New theory of physics attempts to incorporate information’s “central role” in nature”
Although information plays a fundamental role in reality (with consciousness playing the ‘central’ role), David Deutsch is hardly someone I would trust to bring that fact to the forefront. I anticipate that Dr. Dembski’s new book, ‘Being as Communion’, will be much better suited to that task:
The reason I don’t trust Deutsch in this area is that Deutsch was the primary source of much confusion in quantum mechanics by bringing an ounce of respectability towards parallel universes (many worlds) in which a quasi infinite number of parallel universes split off (including the observer) every time an observation is made. Here are some solid refutations of his bizarre many worlds position (which, as far as I know, he still adheres to):
Is Shor’s algorithm a demonstration of the many worlds interpretation?
Excerpt: David Deutsch is very fond of pointing out Shor’s integer factorization algorithm is a demonstration of the many worlds interpretation. As he often asked, where else did all the exponentially many combinations happen?
Are there any other alternative interpretations of quantum mechanics which can explain Shor’s algorithm, and the Deutsch-Jozsa and Simon’s algorithm?
,,, this argument is totally wrong for a simple reason: the real Universe – our Universe – is a quantum system, not a classical system. So it is normal for quantum systems in a single Universe to behave just like the quantum computer running Shor’s algorithm. On the contrary, if we only use the classical computers, we exponentially slow down the computer relatively to what it could do. In this sense, Deutsch’s “argument” shows that the many-worlds interpretation is just another psychological aid for the people who can’t resist to incorrectly think about our world as being a classical world of a sort.,,,
There is one more lethal conceptual problem with the “many worlds” explanation of the Shor’s algorithm’s speed: the whole quantum computer’s calculation has to proceed in a completely coherent way and you’re not allowed to imagine that the world splits into “many worlds” as long as things are coherent i.e. before the qubits are measured. Only when the measurement is completed – e.g. at the end of the Shor’s algorithm calculation – you’re allowed to imagine that the worlds split. But it’s too late because by that moment, the whole calculation has already been done in a single (quantum) world, without any help from the parallel worlds.
(Many more excellent answers are on the site)
Deutsch also claims that the ‘particle interfering with itself’ is another proof for many worlds, but the notion that particles intefere withemselves in the double slit was proven to be wrong by Stapp when he was a Jr. in college:
A Conversation with Henry Stapp, Ryan Cochrane – March 2014
Excerpt: As a junior in college, at the University of Michigan, (around 1950), I carried out, during Easter vacation a double-slit experiment where the photons were, on average, 1 km apart, and verified that effect was not due (to) different photons interfering with one another.
Henry Stapp – Physicist
If anyone is interested in how Dr. Stapp accomplished the preceding experiment, I e-mailed him and this was his reponse,
The experiment was meant only to inform myself, and there was never any thought of publication, although I saved for many years the glass slides with the two photographic images, one below the other, of the two double-slit patterns.
The U of M optics lab featured a double slit experiment. My modified version was not very ingenious: the lab had some calibrated color filters. I merely placed a stack of filters between the light source and the rest of the experiment, so that, using the stated absorption coefficients of the filters, the light was attenuated to an intensity that amounted to an average distance of 1km between photons, whose coherence length was supposed to be about a meter.
The run lasted ten days. The two interference patterns, one just above the other, were, to my eye, indistinguishable. The “crazy” quantum mechanical prediction was apparently correct! Something very, very interesting was afoot.
– Henry Stapp – Physicist