Information Theory: Beyond the Standard Model

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Main Question or Discussion Point

What is the consensus here about Information Theory beyond the Standard model?

The three fundamental theories of the universe, relativity, quantum mechanics, and the second law of thermodynamics all involve limitations on the transfer, accessibility, quantity, or usefulness of information. Relativity forbids the transfer of messages (ordinary information) or particles at faster-than-light speed; the uncertainty principle prohibits quantum particles from having definite speeds and locations at the same time. The second law of thermodynamics fundamentally limits our ability to use energy and information. Perhaps then, we should consider information itself as a fundamental property of the universe, promoting information to a status equal to or perhaps even greater than that afforded enegy and its relativistic equivalent, mass?

Why and why not?
 

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  • #2
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I made some informal criticisms of the idea that information is fundamental http://thecosmist.com/?p=460#comment-23" [Broken]. I would emphasize two points. First, anything sensible that you can say about "information", in the context of physics, can be translated into statements about "numbers of states". Second, information quantifies the amount of "knowledge" that one entity has of another entity's state, so making it fundamental mixes up ontology and epistemology.
 
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  • #3
marcus
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Varon, you might find Achim Kempf congenial--a kindred spirit:
I don't mean his 50 papers here http://arxiv.org/find/grp_physics/1/au:+Kempf_a/0/1/0/all/0/1
I mean this one recent paper:
http://arxiv.org/abs/1010.4354
Spacetime could be simultaneously continuous and discrete in the same way that information can

And also he gave a talk that is available in Pirsa video--often easier to get the ideas from a seminar talk or lecture than by reading.
Google "pirsa Kempf" and you get
http://pirsa.org/09090005/
You also get some series of video lectures on GR and QFT for Cosmology.
 
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  • #4
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The three fundamental theories of the universe, relativity, quantum mechanics, and the second law of thermodynamics
I don't think that the second law of thermodynamics is fundamental. First, it is valid only on the macroscopic level. Second, even on that level, it is only an approximation.
 
  • #5
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First, anything sensible that you can say about "information", in the context of physics, can be translated into statements about "numbers of states".
I agree. This is why I consider analysis of the physical basis of "counting" important. Ie. we can not just do "information theory" by resorting to continuum probability. We need to get down to intrinsic state counting. Because there may be physical constraints on counting.
mixes up ontology and epistemology.
Why is this a problem per see?

I think it's nature that mixes this up. Essentially the way Zurek put it "what the observer KNOWS, is indistinguishable from what the observer IS".

About what's "fundamental" or not is a different question. I do not think we need fundamental degrees of freedom. THAT kind of "information theory" is IMO not what we need, because it adds nothing new. It's just a reformulation as in "the information theory" of physics ie. an ordinary information theoretic DESCRIPTION of physical models, rather than also the physics of information, which would be a depper perspective that suggest that it's an intrinsic model where the physics constrains the construction of measures and counting.

/Fredrik
 

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