All wrapped up with the neatest bow! No, but despite the hype, at least it’s worth a look:
At the Physics ArXiv blog:
In the new work, Masanes and co put forward four postulates about the Universe. If we accept these, they say, quantum mechanics naturally follows. What’s more, their formulation solves an important question about reality—why the universe relies on quantum mechanics and not one of the numerous similar theories that physicists have recently discovered.
So what are these four postulates? Let’s go through them one by one.
1. The existence of an information unit.
This is the big new idea. It states that information exists, it comes in fundamental units and only in one type so there cannot be different types of information. Masanes and co call this fundamental unit a ‘general bit’ or gbit and say that any aspect of the Universe can be encoded given a sufficient number of them.
This idea has significant implications. If there is only one type of information, then everything in the universe must be possible with it. Or as Masanes and co put it: “Any physical process can be simulated with a suitably programmed general purpose simulator.” More.
It’s nice to see someone exploring this area.
The problem with information as a fundamental unit is that physicists have never been sure how to think about information. That’s partly because we are surrounded by seemingly different types of information. There are the 0s and 1s of digital code, information in the form of entropy or as the opposite of randomness, genetic information and even the stuff we use for thought and communication.
A reader suggests that Masanes’ thesis may be relevant to William Dembski’s metaphysics of information. Thoughts?
Lluis Masanes: Existence of an information unit as a postulate of quantum theory :
ABSTRACT (from seminar):Does information play a significant role in the foundations of physics? Information is the abstraction that allows us to refer to the states of systems when we choose to ignore the systems themselves. This is only possible in very particular frameworks, like in classical or quantum theory, or more generally, whenever there exists an information unit such that the state of any system can be reversibly encoded in a sufficient number of such units. In this talk I will show how the abstract formalism of quantum theory can be deduced solely from the existence of a suitable information unit, together with two further natural assumptions: the continuity and reversibility of dynamics, and the possibility of characterizing the state of a composite system by local measurements. This constitutes a new set of postulates for quantum theory with a simple and direct physical meaning, like the ones of special relativity or thermodynamics, and it articulates a strong connection between physics and information.
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