How many bits or bytes of information are present in 1 atom

  • #1

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My guess is the number is huge,but I don't know what transformations from the hip Iwould use to figure this out.
 

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PeterDonis
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Aren't there different types of atoms?
 
  • #4
Use a basic atom like H. I think it's huge relative to a computers memory. Not necessarily huge compared to the info of a larger mass
 
  • #5
PeterDonis
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I think it's huge relative to a computers memory.
Again, why? Either you have some basis for thinking this or you don't. If you do, what is it? If you don't, why are you guessing?
 
  • #6
Again, why? Either you have some basis for thinking this or you don't. If you do, what is it? If you don't, why are you guessing?
Because hup defines a lot of detail being packed into matter
 
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PeterDonis
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jfizzix
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My guess is the number is huge,but I don't know what transformations from the hip Iwould use to figure this out.
The question of how much information is "in" an atom is very interesting, but hard to pin down philosophically. The easier question to answer is how many bits can be written into the state of an atom, and how many bits can be read out of the state of an atom?

So, one way to answer this question is to ask how many bits of information can you communicate by sending an atom?

The quantum state of the hydrogen atom can be expressed in terms of principal quantum numbers (energy, angular momentum, magnetic, spin), and the number of distinct values that this chain of 4 quantum numbers can have is the number of distinct quantum states that can be communicated. The base 2 logarithm of this number would be the number of bits you can encode into the state of the hydrogen atom. Since they are all distinguishable quantum states, one could read out the message at the other end with the appropriate measurements assuming it didn't get disturbed along the way.

Since there's technically an infinite number of values these four numbers can have, it is tempting to say one could encode an infinite amount of information into the state of the atom. However, due to practical limitations, like that the atom has an energy small enough that any disturbance won't just knock the electron away before any measurement can happen, and that our technical abilities are still developing in preparing atoms with specific quantum states when they get so close together at higher energy, the actual number of bits is much more reasonable.

For example, with 110 distinct orbitals from 1s up to 5g, one could encode 6.8 bits of information onto the state of the atom if that was the limit of your capabilities. One can go a good deal higher than this under special circumstances (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rydberg_atom), so one could imagine encoding at least one byte into the state of the atom in a way that can be read later.
 
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  • #10
I'm asking how much detail is packed into an atom. Like if the hup was smaller by a factor of a million, you would expect the amount of information present in an atom to be higher by a factor of 1 million. Follow?
 
  • #11
PeterDonis
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if the hup was smaller by a factor of a million, you would expect the amount of information present in an atom to be higher by a factor of 1 million.
Why?

You keep making these general assertions without anything to back them up. Where are you getting this understanding from? What QM textbooks have you studied?
 
  • #12
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Why?

You keep making these general assertions without anything to back them up. Where are you getting this understanding from? What QM textbooks have you studied?
Please keep in mind that not everyone get their info from text books or "proper schooling" and asking just "why"over and over again. it does not help if the person asking the question if thay does not really have a good reason other then cerostie. they may not know how to break down the question to a why anser. It also does not help anyone understand anything when someone answering a question with another question please do not take any offence to this it just an outside point of view from the mainstream way of learning physics

i would like to know what a "hup" is wolf if possible
 
  • #13
PeterDonis
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It also does not help anyone understand anything when someone answering a question with another question
The reason I'm doing it is that the question appears to be based on a mistaken understanding, but I don't have enough information to tell where the OP's understanding is mistaken, if it is. That's why I keep asking him to give reasons for the claims he is making. He's not just asking questions, he's making statements, but without explaining why he thinks they're true.
 
  • #14
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ok now that makes sense. ty for clarifying but why would you not just point out the misunderstanding and go from there but thats not the topic of the thred right now sooooo:wink:
now i'm not shere but i think he is trying to ask how meny bits would it take to record an H atom completely
for me to even try to answer that one it would take me weeks of research or more
 
  • #15
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i would like to know what a "hup" is wolf if possible
Heisenberg uncertainty principle: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/uncer.html

Edit:
And when I read the original post I saw it was pretty strangely worded:
I'm asking how much detail is packed into an atom. Like if the hup was smaller by a factor of a million, you would expect the amount of information present in an atom to be higher by a factor of 1 million. Follow? (my bolding)
The uncertainty principle is a relation and a relation can't be a million times smaller. However, Planck's constant [itex]h[/itex] could be, at least for thought experiments... :smile:
 
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  • #16
Heisenberg uncertainty principle: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/uncer.html

Edit:
And when I read the original post I saw it was pretty strangely worded:

The uncertainty principle is a relation and a relation can't be a million times smaller. However, Planck's constant [itex]h[/itex] could be, at least for thought experiments... :smile:
Right. I basically mean that hup puts an upper limit about how detailed the universe is.. In a way its like the size of pixels on a screen. From a pixel density on a computer screen you can infer the amount of data needed to encode the image displayed. There cannot be infinite detain in a given system, bc infinite detail would form a black whole due to endless energy density.right?
 
  • #17
PeterDonis
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I basically mean that hup puts an upper limit about how detailed the universe is.. In a way its like the size of pixels on a screen.
That's not how the HUP works in standard QM or in standard QFT. There are speculations about spacetime being made of discrete "pixels" at the Planck scale, but those are just speculations.

There cannot be infinite detain in a given system, bc infinite detail would form a black whole due to endless energy density.right?
No. I don't know where you are getting this from.
 
  • #18
That's not how the HUP works in standard QM or in standard QFT. There are speculations about spacetime being made of discrete "pixels" at the Planck scale, but those are just speculations.



No. I don't know where you are getting this from.
People definitively answered a question i had on stack saying that the HUP is the precise reason there is not infinite information or infinite detail present in any sort of matter or energy. If you had infinite detail you would be able to say things like “the electron actually DOES HAVE both a definite position and definite momentum at the same time.”
It doesnt, because hup puts limits on how much information there is in a system/particle. You cant get more detail than the hup allows. Thats probably the most important corollary of the hup. Infinite detail isnt only counter intuitive, (unless you believe in the free will), its also paradoxical. How can you have infinite information without infinite energy or mass. You cant.

To your second part- I read some science mag article saying the reason you cant store infinite data on a hard drive or it would collapse into a black hole. For the same reason i have stated. You cant have information without energy. If some people have a concept of information that violates this then they shouldnt be calling it information. Information can affect the universe. Things that have 0 energy and zero mass cannot effect the universe. Storing information takes energy or mass equivalent. And im not talking about programming molecule spins. Im referring to the amount of resolution that exists in the uni wrt the HUP. Again, Peter, isnt this well established? Because both this forum and stack are the places that have guided my intuitions.
 
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  • #19
PeterDonis
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People definitively answered a question i had on stack saying that the HUP is the precise reason there is not infinite information or infinite detail present in any sort of matter or energy.
Did they give any references to textbooks or peer-reviewed papers? Can you give a link to the discussion?

i wouldve assumed you knew this PeterAdonis
I know a quantum particle doesn't have an exact position and an exact momentum at the same time, yes. I have not seen anything in a QM textbook or peer-reviewed paper about the claims you are making about the HUP and information.

Also read this in an article
What article? Can you provide a link?

the reason you cant store infinite data on a hard drive or it would collapse into a black hole
This is silly. The reason you can't store infinite data on a hard drive is that it stores data in finite size cells and it has only a finite number of them. But this limitation is imposed by our limited technology, not by the laws of physics.

Storing information takes energy or mass equivalent.
This is true. However, I don't think it means what you think it means.

There is a physical result called the "Bekenstein bound" which says that only a finite amount of information can be stored in a finite volume, and uses characteristics of black holes to make the argument for what that finite amount is. It's possible that you are reading garbled versions of this.

Again, how do u not know this?
Know what? Know the vague, confused things you are claiming, taken from sources you have provided no links to, and paraphrased by you so I don't even know that what you think the sources said is what they actually said?

I have asked you repeatedly to provide references for where you are getting your understanding from, because the things you are saying do not seem like things that I know from textbooks and peer-reviewed papers and my understanding of them. It's possible that you are misunderstanding or mis-stating actual true pieces of physics that you've read. It's also possible that you are reading pop science sources that are misrepresenting the science. Unless you give some actual references, I have no way to tell. Either provide some references or this thread will be closed.
 
  • #20
Did they give any references to textbooks or peer-reviewed papers? Can you give a link to the discussion?



I know a quantum particle doesn't have an exact position and an exact momentum at the same time, yes. I have not seen anything in a QM textbook or peer-reviewed paper about the claims you are making about the HUP and information.



What article? Can you provide a link?



This is silly. The reason you can't store infinite data on a hard drive is that it stores data in finite size cells and it has only a finite number of them. But this limitation is imposed by our limited technology, not by the laws of physics.



This is true. However, I don't think it means what you think it means.

There is a physical result called the "Bekenstein bound" which says that only a finite amount of information can be stored in a finite volume, and uses characteristics of black holes to make the argument for what that finite amount is. It's possible that you are reading garbled versions of this.



Know what? Know the vague, confused things you are claiming, taken from sources you have provided no links to, and paraphrased by you so I don't even know that what you think the sources said is what they actually said?

I have asked you repeatedly to provide references for where you are getting your understanding from, because the things you are saying do not seem like things that I know from textbooks and peer-reviewed papers and my understanding of them. It's possible that you are misunderstanding or mis-stating actual true pieces of physics that you've read. It's also possible that you are reading pop science sources that are misrepresenting the science. Unless you give some actual references, I have no way to tell. Either provide some references or this thread will be closed.
I cleaned up my post just now and reinforced the points im making please read through it.
Ill look for the articles i read which reinforced my preformed understandings.
Also i didnt see you disagree with anything i said other then semantic(s/ally) so I want to clarify; infinite detail in a confined space would cause the creation of a black whole because of concentrated mass or energy density. You sounded kind of dragging your feet about conceding that but i know you understand that.
Also the hard drive is under a similar constraint to raw information. The density of info on the hard drive is limited by the ability of transistors to function, and raw information is limited by tbe HUP.
I dont think we are in a major disagreement Peter, I just think its a semantic issue we are having.
 
  • #21
Did they give any references to textbooks or peer-reviewed papers? Can you give a link to the discussion?



I know a quantum particle doesn't have an exact position and an exact momentum at the same time, yes. I have not seen anything in a QM textbook or peer-reviewed paper about the claims you are making about the HUP and information.



What article? Can you provide a link?



This is silly. The reason you can't store infinite data on a hard drive is that it stores data in finite size cells and it has only a finite number of them. But this limitation is imposed by our limited technology, not by the laws of physics.



This is true. However, I don't think it means what you think it means.

There is a physical result called the "Bekenstein bound" which says that only a finite amount of information can be stored in a finite volume, and uses characteristics of black holes to make the argument for what that finite amount is. It's possible that you are reading garbled versions of this.



Know what? Know the vague, confused things you are claiming, taken from sources you have provided no links to, and paraphrased by you so I don't even know that what you think the sources said is what they actually said?

I have asked you repeatedly to provide references for where you are getting your understanding from, because the things you are saying do not seem like things that I know from textbooks and peer-reviewed papers and my understanding of them. It's possible that you are misunderstanding or mis-stating actual true pieces of physics that you've read. It's also possible that you are reading pop science sources that are misrepresenting the science. Unless you give some actual references, I have no way to tell. Either provide some references or this thread will be closed.
Also closing this thread would be immature and completely on you Peter. If im dropping things that are not easily answered, then this thread is one of the few threads that you should want to guard with your life until an very adept person comes along and shows us that you and i were perhaps just arguing two sides of the same coin.
If you want to call me an arm chair physicist and say because i dont read stephen hawkings peer reviewed nonsense im illegitimate go ahead. An office clerk physicist who basically freestyled GR because it followed the way he thought things should work is pretty much equivalent to an armchair physicist. Not bad company tbh. Im 20 iq pts below him but AP physics is something i could have learned when i was 10 years old so i know im not as inept as you seem to believe.

Also, again, im trying to find the articles.
 
  • #22
PeterDonis
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closing this thread would be immature and completely on you Peter
No, it will be on you for not providing references after repeated requests.

i know im not as inept as you seem to believe.
What you think you know is your business. So far you have not shown me any evidence that you have a good understanding of physics.

im trying to find the articles.
Good. When you have links, post them.
 
  • #23
PeterDonis
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I cleaned up my post just now and reinforced the points im making please read through it.
Rather than editing an existing post, you should make a new one if you have more information to post.

Re-reading your post I don't see any new information that's useful.

infinite detail in a confined space would cause the creation of a black whole because of concentrated mass or energy density
No, that's not correct. What is correct is that if a physical system has anything close to the maximum information per volume that it can have, according to the Bekenstein bound, it is already a black hole. There is no such thing as having an object that is not a black hole but is "close" to one, and then packing a little more information into it and having it become a black hole. The system would collapse to a black hole well before you got anywhere close to the limit on information storage given by the Bekenstein bound.

Also, the Bekenstein bound has nothing whatever to do with the uncertainty principle. It has to do with applying classical thermodynamics in the context of a classical black hole as described by General Relativity.

The density of info on the hard drive is limited by the ability of transistors to function
Actually, the key limitation for hard drives is the ability to reliably distinguish the magnetic domains that signify 0 and 1 bits.

and raw information is limited by tbe HUP.
No, it isn't. A hard drive is not relying on quantum effects anywhere near the point where the uncertainty principle would significantly affect its operation.
 
  • #24
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I'm asking how much detail is packed into an atom. Like if the hup was smaller by a factor of a million, you would expect the amount of information present in an atom to be higher by a factor of 1 million. Follow?
The problen here is that the amount of information in bits is the logarithm to the base 2 of the number of states. Even if you could measure the atoms quantum numbers with an accuracy that is a million times bigger, the number of states would only increase by a factor 10^18, and this would add less than 60 bits for each atom.
 

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