Thursday, June 30, 2011

Poll 82 - Does Info Equal Reality?

A direct link to the above video is at

"The division between the quantum and classical worlds appears not to be fundamental. It is just a question of experimental ingenuity, and few physicists now think that classical physics will ever really make a comeback at any scale. If anything, the general belief is that if a deeper theory ever supersedes quantum physics, it will show the world to be even more counterintuitive than anything we have seen so far."
- from an article in the June 2011 issue of Scientific American, "Living in a Quantum World" by Vlatko Vedral

Poll 82 - "Information Equals Reality". Poll ended June 16, 2011.
68.5% agreed, while the remaining 31.5% did not.

One of the claims I've made from the outset of this project echoes Vlatko Vedral's statement quoted above. How great it is to see this idea has now officially moved into the mainstream! Five years ago when my book was published, this was one of the ideas that critics said proved I was a crackpot. As I said in Chapter Two, The Quantum Observer:
...the difficulties in determining where the dividing line between the quantum world and the macro world lies stem from the fact that it really is all part of the same continuum. Therefore the observer is functioning at both the quantum level, and as part of the physical world we see around us. This means that each of us is an observer, and each of us is creating our own unique reality, while we continue to participate in a shared consensus reality where the basic physical laws of our universe remain unchanged.
Which takes us to these words: "information equals reality". This is a highly useful phrase which I had not come across when I finished writing my book in 2006, but since then I've used it extensively in this blog. In 2009 when I created the pdf version of my book (available for download at I did add some addenda items to the end of each chapter to outline the progress that had been made in my ideas becoming less "out there" than they seemed at first. Here's a paragraph I added near the end of Chapter Two which helps to explain this concept:
Quantum mechanics is often portrayed as being completely unimaginable and supremely mysterious. I would propose that the way of imagining reality we are exploring here–which takes the indeterminate nature of subatomic particles and equates that idea with the simultaneously branching possibilities that we select from the probability space of the fifth dimension to create our fourth-dimensional reality–helps us to understand how both can be part of the same idea. When quantum physicist Seth Lloyd, in his book “Programming the Universe”, talks about information and reality being interchangeable, I feel a strong resonance between that statement and what we’re exploring in these pages: we are all navigating a sea of information, which from some perspectives may seem random and inexplicable. But within that sea of information we can find patterns and shapes, fractals and chaos, parts that start and parts that stop, all encoded within the underlying fabric of our observed reality.
Likewise, physicist Anton Zeilinger uses this phrase regularly, here's a few entries where I talk about his groundbreaking work: Local Realism Bites the Dust, God 2.0, The Spacetime Tree, The Past is an Illusion, and Scrambled Eggs.

There are numerous popular films that explore the idea that our reality equals information. We talked about some of those not long ago in my entry Poll 77 - What if the World's a Simulation?. A recent film about this idea, and it's one that I really loved, is Source Code. If you'd like to read an analysis of this film from a quantum physicist's perspective, here's a link from the Discover Magazine "Cosmic Variance" blog. Just a warning though, in order to discuss the underlying theories behind this movie the link I'm giving you has to reveal the surprise ending. Now that's okay, I suppose, if you've never seen the film and have no intention of doing so, but if you are thinking of watching it I'd really recommend you do so before reading this analysis.

Finally, here's a link to an exciting article published June 1st 2011 in New Scientist, which gives the seal of approval to a new paper published by Raphael Bousso and Leonard Susskind. This paper provides a formal proof for how the string theory multiverse and Everett's Many Worlds are directly equivalent. As I've admitted elsewhere, I've talked so much about this idea for the last five years that it seems a bit strange to have mainstream scientists only starting to accept it now, but once again I'm thrilled to see ways in which the "crazy" ideas I've been promoting with Imagining the Tenth Dimension are continuing to move closer and closer to the accepted mainstream. How cool is that?

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: Five Years Ago Today

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