Watching information at play in the quantum world
is throwing physicists into a flat spin, says Mark Buchanan, 1998
In the context of quantum theory, information and physical stuff are beginning to blur into a kind of supersubstance that goes beyond the properties of either. “Information is such a fundamental thing,” says Andrew Steane of the University of Oxford. “The ambitious goal is to discover its basic properties, and then from that deduce quantum theory.”
WHAT does a financial index have in common with Shakespeare's Richard III, a drawing of a cat and this sentence?
No matter how important any one of them may be to you,
they can all be reduced to the ubiquitous digital bits of the information age.
And, as such, they can pass from a mind to a machine,
flow down telephone lines and spill out unchanged onto a page halfway across the world.
Information is nothing but patterns of 0s and 1s.
Or so everyone has believed. But now a growing band of physicists is putting forth a more alarming notion.
They believe that information is a superweird new substance,
more ethereal than matter or energy,
but every bit as real and perhaps even more fundamental.
For them, information is a kind of subtle substance that lies behind and beneath physical stuff.
"Information is deeper than reality," says Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the University of Innsbruck.
Ref.: Andrew Steane https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/contacts/people/steane