It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
In a video interview, Oxford physicist (and atheist) David Deutsch argues against reductionism (the idea that material causes can explain everything), saying that information is not material and consciousness exists. In the process, he makes four very important points:
1. Information is not physical.
2. Yet, information is the proper explanation for some effects.
3. Though it is an immaterial cause, it does not contradict physics.
4. Therefore, we must not impose a criterion of physicality on all explanations in science. Rather, we ought to look for the explanations that describe the way things really are.
If you think about how to explain physical events like a footprint on the moon…, it happened because of human ideas [not because of mere configurations of atoms]….
This information can't, in my view, be reduced to statements about atoms because, if you think about what that information does, it is in brains, but the same information then gets transferred into, let's say, sound waves in air, and then it gets transferred into ink on paper, and then it gets transferred into magnetic domains inside a computer, which then control a machine that instantiates those ideas in bits of steel, and silicon, and so on. There's an immense chain of instantiations of the same information…. What is being transmitted, what is having the causal effect, is not the atoms, but the fact that the atoms instantiate certain kinds of information, and not other kinds. So therefore, it is the information that is having the causal effect….
If explanation is going to be the fundamental thing—our criterion, for example—about what is or isn't real, then we have to say that information, and this particular kind which we call "knowledge," is real and really does cause things….
I think that the argument against free will from reductionism is just a mistake. It's a fundamental mistake. It's the idea that all explanation must be in terms of microscopic things. There's no philosophical argument in favor of that that I'm aware of. It's just an assumption. It has historical roots in how science centuries ago escaped from the clutches of the supernatural. And as I said earlier, certainly I'm opposed to any kind of modes of explanation in terms of immaterial things, in terms of abstractions, that contradict physics, but the idea that all such explanations by their very nature contradict physics is simply false….
We have to accept the physical world as we find it. We have to find the best explanations that explain it, rather than impose, by dogma, a criterion that explanations have to meet other than that they explain reality.
Information describing that car isn't destroyed, it spreads out across the event horizon of a black hole.
this is because the information being distributed across an event horizon as you have described is no longer information. neither is a hologram composed of information.
The holographic principle was inspired by black hole thermodynamics, which implies that the maximal entropy in any region scales with the radius squared, and not cubed as might be expected. In the case of a black hole, the insight was that the informational content of all the objects that have fallen into the hole can be entirely contained in surface fluctuations of the event horizon. The holographic principle resolves the black hole information paradox within the framework of string theory.
Starting in the mid-1970s, Stephen Hawking and Jacob Bekenstein put forward theoretical arguments based on general relativity and quantum field theory that appeared to be inconsistent with information conservation. Specifically, Hawking's calculations indicated that black hole evaporation via Hawking radiation does not preserve information. Today, many physicists believe that the holographic principle (specifically the AdS/CFT duality) demonstrates that Hawking's conclusion was incorrect, and that information is in fact preserved. In 2004 Hawking himself conceded a bet he had made, agreeing that black hole evaporation does in fact preserve information.
The work sprung out of a long argument with Stephen Hawking about the nature of black holes, which was eventually solved by the realization that the event horizon could act as a hologram, preserving information about the material that's gotten sucked inside. The same sort of math, it turns out, can actually describe any point in the Universe, meaning that the entire content Universe can be viewed as a giant hologram, one that resides on the surface of whatever two-dimensional shape will enclose it.
As far as quantum mechanics is concerned, information about states is never destroyed. This isn't just an observation; according to panelist Leonard Susskind, destroying information creates paradoxes that, although apparently minor, will gradually propagate and eventually cause inconsistencies in just about everything we think we understand. As panelist Leonard Susskind put it, "all we know about physics would fall apart if information is lost."
t Hooft described how the disagreement eventually got worked out. It's possible, he said, to figure out how much information has gotten drawn in to the black hole. Once you do that, you can see that the total amount can be related to the surface area of the event horizon, which suggested where the information could be stored. But since the event horizon is a two-dimensional surface, the information couldn't be stored in regular matter; instead, the event horizon forms a hologram that holds the information as matter passes through it. When that matter passes back out as Hawking radiation, the information is restored.
...he compares it to the way information is stored on a computer.
noise is a corruption of the information signal.
Could it be said that the "music" (to follow that analogy) or information is this chaos or noise? and merely heard a certain way? and that it is us, not reality, that makes information out of noise?
This surprising result--that information capacity depends on surface area--has a natural explanation if the holographic principle (proposed in 1993 by Nobelist Gerard 't Hooft of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and elaborated by Susskind) is true. In the everyday world, a hologram is a special kind of photograph that generates a full three-dimensional image when it is illuminated in the right manner. ALL THE INFORMATION describing the 3-D scene is encoded into the pattern of light and dark areas on the two-dimensional piece of film, ready to be regenerated. The holographic principle contends that an analogue of this visual magic applies to the full physical description of any system occupying a 3-D region: it proposes that another physical theory defined only on the 2-D boundary of the region completely describes the 3-D physics. If a 3-D system can be fully described by a physical theory operating solely on its 2-D boundary, one would expect the information content of the system not to exceed that of the description on the boundary.
JACOB D. BEKENSTEIN has contributed to the foundation of black hole thermodynamics and to other aspects of the connections between information and gravitation. He is Polak Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and a recipient of the Rothschild Prize. Bekenstein dedicates this article to John Archibald Wheeler (his Ph.D. supervisor 30 years ago). Wheeler belongs to the third generation of Ludwig Boltzmann's students: Wheeler's Ph.D. adviser, Karl Herzfeld, was a student of Boltzmann's student Friedrich Hasenöhrl.
The images on your computer screen also exist in software as a series of ones and zeros. The music coming from your headphones might come from those same ones and zeros - or from carefully-pressed plastic, or from laser-etched metal. A lot of things you interact with daily come from information that's stored in many formats…and so are you. According to physicist Leonard Susskind, the three-dimensional universe is a hologram, a projection of two-dimensional information stored along the boundary of the universe.
"This is a real disconnect and it's very hard to get your head around," said Susskind in the first episode of NOVA's The Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene. But the concept of the universe as a hologram arises from the mathematical study of black holes. When an object - say a red rubber ball - gets sucked into a black hole, it passes the event horizon and is lost. The distinctions that make that object unique, however, do not disappear. Instead, information about the ball's redness and spherical shape spreads over the surface of the event horizon, forming a two-dimensional shell of information. Theoretically, a computer could even use that shell to reconstruct a duplicate of the original ball.
When an object - say a red rubber ball - gets sucked into a black hole, it passes the event horizon and is lost. The distinctions that make that object unique, however, do not disappear. Instead, information about the ball's redness and spherical shape spreads over the surface of the event horizon, forming a two-dimensional shell of information. Theoretically, a computer could even use that shell to reconstruct a duplicate of the original ball.
Entropy is also a measure of the amount of information it would take to describe a system completely. The entropy of ordinary objects—people, sand buckets, containers of gas—is proportional to their volume. Double the volume of a helium balloon, for instance, and its entropy will increase by a factor of eight. But in the 1970s, Stephen Hawking and Jacob Bekenstein discovered that the entropy of a black hole obeys a different scaling rule. It is proportional not to the black hole's three-dimensional volume but to its two-dimensional surface area, defined here as the area of the boundary called the event horizon. Therefore, while the actual entropy of an ordinary object—say, a hamburger—scales with its volume, the maximum entropy that could theoretically be contained in the space occupied by the hamburger depends not on the volume of the hamburger but on the size of its surface area. Physics prevents the entropy of the hamburger from ever exceeding that maximum: If one somehow tried to pack so much entropy into the hamburger that it reached that limit, the hamburger would collapse into a black hole.
The inescapable conclusion is that all the information it takes to describe a three-dimensional object—a black hole, a hamburger, or a whole universe—can be expressed in two dimensions. This suggests to physicists that the deepest description of our universe and its parts—the ultimate theory of physics—must be crafted in two spatial dimensions, not three. Which brings us back to the hologram.