Can we determine how much information there is in the universe?

Every thought we have, everything we see, the number of stars in the sky and the different sizes of ants in the earth can be considered information. Some scholars believe that information is so important to the constitution of our physical reality that it should be seen as fundamental. state of matter, along with gas, liquid, plasma and solids.

Seeing the universe as full of information has another potential fork – if everything in the universe is data, then the universe is essentially a giant computer running a program that includes me and you, the one who thinks that thought right now?

From this point of view, it may be possible to estimate the total amount of information in the universe, and some scientists are trying to come up with such a number.

IN recent document published in AIP Advances from the American Institute of Physics, Melvin M. Wapson, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth, calculated exactly how much information there is in the universe. As he writes in the newspaper, “We found that each particle in the observed universe contains 1,509 bits of information and has 6 × 10 ^ 80 bits of information stored in all particles of matter in the observed universe. “

How the numbers are calculated

In order for the mathematics that Wapson performed to make sense, we must accept the principle formulated by the researcher in paper that “information is physical, information is registered by physical systems and all physical systems can register information.”

While the “information capacity” of the universe has been hotly debated for decades, Wopson’s approach is different, relying on Shannon’s information theory in making the estimate. Wopson created a formula that calculated the total number of protons in the observed universe, the so-called Eddington number. From this number, the researcher calculated the number of all elementary particles in the universe and the amount of information about himself that is contained in each particle.

The theory of information used by Wopson was proposed by the mathematician Claude Shannon, known as the “father of the digital age.” Shannon’s work on information theory dates back to 1948 and outlines a method for quantifying information. The theory connects entropy, the amount of uncertainty in the system, with information. According to the logic of the theory, the information content of the message is a measure of how much entropy (or uncertainty) reduces the message, as different messages have different values.

Vapson applies such entropy calculations to understand how much information about mass, spin, and charge can be retained by protons, neutrons, and electrons before extrapolating the results to the entire universe.

“This is the first time that this approach has been used to measure the information content of the universe and provides a clear numerical forecast,” explain Wopson. “Even if it’s not entirely accurate, the numerical prediction offers a potential path to experimental testing.”

Wapson’s current study has some limitations because it does not look at antiparticles and neutrinos. He also makes some assumptions about the transmission and storage of information in the universe. However, it can serve as an assessment tool for further research and practical experiments, which is in line with recent work by other researchers in this field.

What is information?

While researchers are increasingly focusing on clarifying the exact nature of information, it remains a relative mystery. Although we can describe information in different ways, such as facts, descriptions of physical states or mathematical formulas, the question remains – is there a physical presence that can be measured, as some suggest?

Earlier, Wapson suggested that information is the fifth state of matter and may even be the mysterious dark matter that is rated to make up about 27 percent of the known universe. However, this has not been experimentally confirmed. By comparison, normal matter, which includes you and me and everything we can observe in the universe, is only five percent of all matter.

The computational universe

Vapson is not the first to suggest that information may be a key building block of reality. physicist John Archibald Wheeler described this idea as “it from a young age” – as “it” is everything in the universe, and “bit” refers to information.

Seth Lloyd, a professor at MIT who focuses on quantum information, sees the universe as a giant computer, calling it “A physical system that divides information into bits and flips those bits in a systematic way.”

He cites the example of an electron whose spin, according to quantum mechanics, assumes one of two values, up or down. Lloyd compares this to computer bits, the smallest units of digital information that also accept two types of information – either 0 or 1. Since every elementary particle contains information, so the universe that Lloyd offers also processes this information in a way that which makes it quite similar to a computer. In fact, Lloyd argues, the universe is not just like a computer, but is a computer in which all changes in the universe can be considered “calculations”.

In his article on The Computing Universe, Lloyd actually appear in total for these calculations, considering how many “elementary logical operations” the universe would have performed since it began – a number that is close to 10 ^ 120 (10 to 120). Earlier, he came up with his own estimate of how many bits can be contained in the amount of matter currently in the universe – 10 ^ 90 (10 to 90) bits.

Of course, proving that the universe is a computer would have great philosophical and practical consequences. One big question – who programs the computer of the universe? For Lloyd, explanation can lie in “small arbitrary quantum fluctuations. “He suggests that quantum fluctuations may be responsible for all physical phenomena, programming the universe and even our DNA, albeit with a certain amount of chance.” If you follow this coincidence down, you will find that this coincidence is actually it results from small quantum fluctuations that are disguised as thermal and chemical fluctuations, ”explains Lloyd, adding,“ Your genes are programmed by quantum fluctuations. ”

Suffice it to say that further research in this area can have profound implications for everything we know about ourselves and our universe.

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