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Is disorder required to store information?

  1. Dec 14, 2015 #1
    Would a perfectly ordered crystal in an isolated system with no temperature be able to store information that can be used to predict the future of that system?

    I am asking this question with the Big Bang in mind: intuitively, it appears to me that at the beginning of the universe there should be extremely high degree of order, but if the universe was perfectly uniform, why are there asymmetry today? If a perfectly uniform object is blown up like the universe, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't expand into a sphere uniform on all sides.

    Assuming a deterministic universe, would it be possible to derive information from a perfectly uniform initial state? Or is the complexity of the universe today a result of quantum mechanism's non-determinism?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2015 #2


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    Depends on whether you can modify the structure. A perfectly ordered crystal contains no more information than it takes to describe the lattice -which is not a lot. To use it for information, you would have to be able to change parts so you can encode the information.

    The series 111111111... contains very little information.
    Start with 1. Repeat.

    If you can predict what the next character will be, then it nets you no more useful information.
    111 000 111 00?
    This has a little more information, but you can still predict what the next letter will likely be.
    Start with 1. Repeat 3 times. Switch to zero, repeat as with 1. Repeat the whole thing.
    [ (1)3 (0)3 ]...

    When you can't predict: 1011 1010 1011 0101 0110 1010 you're getting new information with every bit. There's not an easy way to shrink that to a simpler algorithm.

    But I don't think that's what you're asking.

    An excellent question - one that scientists have been grappling with for a long time. Why is there any asymmetry in the universe we see?

    One of the asymmetries we observe is the abundance of matter over antimatter.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
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