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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

**Walter Smilga**: *on* 2/27/18 at 15:22pm UTC, wrote Donald, On Quora: What is the difference between information and...

**Walter Smilga**: *on* 2/27/18 at 13:19pm UTC, wrote Dear Donald, Thank you very much for your comment. It's not quite clear...

**Donald Palmer**: *on* 2/27/18 at 1:28am UTC, wrote Dear Walter, An interesting essay from an information perspective. You...

**Steven Andresen**: *on* 2/23/18 at 13:37pm UTC, wrote Dear Walter If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

**Vladimir Fedorov**: *on* 2/22/18 at 7:39am UTC, wrote Dear Walter, I highly appreciate your well-written essay in an effort to...

**adel sadeq**: *on* 2/2/18 at 22:13pm UTC, wrote Hi Smilga Few weeks back I had your papers on my desktop, I can't exactly...

**Joe Fisher**: *on* 1/31/18 at 16:21pm UTC, wrote Dear Fellow Essayists This will be my final plea for fair treatment., ...

**Satyavarapu Gupta**: *on* 1/30/18 at 12:29pm UTC, wrote Hi Walter Smilga Wonderful words......“Several authors, before and after...

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FQXi FORUM

May 24, 2019

CATEGORY:
FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017
[back]

TOPIC: What is more fundamental than a bit? by Walter Smilga [refresh]

TOPIC: What is more fundamental than a bit? by Walter Smilga [refresh]

In a conference talk in 1989, John Archibald Wheeler suggested that 'every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits, binary yes-or-no indications, a conclusion which we epitomize in the phrase, it from bit.' Several authors, before and after Wheeler, have pursued similar ideas. However, no practical realisation of Wheeler's agenda within a realistic physical framework has emerged. Using the example of Wheeler's agenda, I pursue the question of what is fundamental in physics.

Walter Smilga studied physics and mathematics at LMU, Munich. He spent four years at MPI for Physics, Munich, and completed his PhD at U. of Tübingen. For 20 years he held positions in R&D in the optical industry. He founded a software company and worked for another 17 years as a software developer. After having retired he has returned to his research interests in foundational issues of quantum mechanics and particle physics.

From 2.2 "Here, there is something essentially different from classical statistical mechanics: even within this statistical distribution, the measured spin direction is always ‘up’ or ‘down’ relative to the orientation of the measuring device, independently of the angle of rotation of the device" It has been demonstrated that classical systems that manifest only a single bit of information exhibit the exact same behavior as quantum systems

From 2.3 "The encoded information is objective in the sense that it is independent of an external observer." Actually, it is critically dependent upon the observer knowing, a priori, the one and only measurement angle that is guaranteed to produce no bit-error - it is similar to the problem of a one-time pad. The so-called "quantum correlations" occur, because of all the bit-errors obtained, as a result of the observer failing to employ the one and only correct measurement angle, for each entangled pair - because, just as in a message encrypted with a one-time pad, the casual observer does not know the information content of the required pad.

"We need a second tool to extract the conditional expectation value from the information encoded in the state vector. A suitable tool, also known from quantum mechanics, is the Born rule" The Born rule is simply the result of the frequency shift theorem, pertaining to the Fourier transforms, used to describe wavefunctions; the mathematical description of the absolute-square of a wavefunction, turns out to be identical to the mathematical description of a histogram, when applied to equi-energy quanta.

‘quantum mechanics does not describe the micro-scopic objects themselves, but just relations between preparing and measuring procedures, mediated by microscopic objects’ That is correct - it is the process of histogramming quanta of energy.

Rob McEachern

report post as inappropriate

From 2.3 "The encoded information is objective in the sense that it is independent of an external observer." Actually, it is critically dependent upon the observer knowing, a priori, the one and only measurement angle that is guaranteed to produce no bit-error - it is similar to the problem of a one-time pad. The so-called "quantum correlations" occur, because of all the bit-errors obtained, as a result of the observer failing to employ the one and only correct measurement angle, for each entangled pair - because, just as in a message encrypted with a one-time pad, the casual observer does not know the information content of the required pad.

"We need a second tool to extract the conditional expectation value from the information encoded in the state vector. A suitable tool, also known from quantum mechanics, is the Born rule" The Born rule is simply the result of the frequency shift theorem, pertaining to the Fourier transforms, used to describe wavefunctions; the mathematical description of the absolute-square of a wavefunction, turns out to be identical to the mathematical description of a histogram, when applied to equi-energy quanta.

‘quantum mechanics does not describe the micro-scopic objects themselves, but just relations between preparing and measuring procedures, mediated by microscopic objects’ That is correct - it is the process of histogramming quanta of energy.

Rob McEachern

report post as inappropriate

Dear Robert McEachern,

Thank you for your detailed comments and the link to your interesting paper.

Your comment to 2.2: From the informational point of view, I fully agree with you - except that I would not use the term 'classical system' for a directed quantity in space-time (a spin) that 'manifests only a single bit of information.'

Your comment to 2.3: There are, if you like, three 'observers':

1. The measuring device of the preparing measurement.

2. The external observer that observes the result of the preparing measurement and the relative angle of rotation of the measuring device between preparing and analyzing measurement.

3. The measuring device of the analyzing measurement.

The information encoded in the state vector are the result of the preparing measurement ('up' or 'down' relative to the orientation of the measuring device) and the angle of rotation between preparing and analyzing measurement. This information is purely 'classical' information and therefore independent of the orientation of the*external* observer. That is what I wanted to express.

I have just read the abstract of your essay. It looks very promising.

I will certainly read your essay in detail.

Thank you for your detailed comments and the link to your interesting paper.

Your comment to 2.2: From the informational point of view, I fully agree with you - except that I would not use the term 'classical system' for a directed quantity in space-time (a spin) that 'manifests only a single bit of information.'

Your comment to 2.3: There are, if you like, three 'observers':

1. The measuring device of the preparing measurement.

2. The external observer that observes the result of the preparing measurement and the relative angle of rotation of the measuring device between preparing and analyzing measurement.

3. The measuring device of the analyzing measurement.

The information encoded in the state vector are the result of the preparing measurement ('up' or 'down' relative to the orientation of the measuring device) and the angle of rotation between preparing and analyzing measurement. This information is purely 'classical' information and therefore independent of the orientation of the

I have just read the abstract of your essay. It looks very promising.

I will certainly read your essay in detail.

Hi Walter Smilga

Wonderful words......“Several authors, before and after Wheeler, have pursued similar ideas. However, no practical realisation of Wheeler's agenda within a realistic physical framework has emerged. Using the example of Wheeler's agenda, I pursue the question of what is fundamental in physics” dear Walter Smilga........

May I say…. In astrophysics I think…...

view entire post

Wonderful words......“Several authors, before and after Wheeler, have pursued similar ideas. However, no practical realisation of Wheeler's agenda within a realistic physical framework has emerged. Using the example of Wheeler's agenda, I pursue the question of what is fundamental in physics” dear Walter Smilga........

May I say…. In astrophysics I think…...

view entire post

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Hi Smilga

Few weeks back I had your papers on my desktop, I can't exactly remember which search words had led to your papers. Then it occurred to me that I had seen your name in FQXI and I saw your entries. I don't know why I have not communicated with you before because my idea seem to resemble yours and we reach very similar conclusion although the details seem to be different. However, our ideas seem to share the two particle state. I arrive at them very quickly as I try to play god and try to design a dynamic universe.

Please checkout my idea and see if it makes any sense to you. thanks.

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3127

report post as inappropriate

Few weeks back I had your papers on my desktop, I can't exactly remember which search words had led to your papers. Then it occurred to me that I had seen your name in FQXI and I saw your entries. I don't know why I have not communicated with you before because my idea seem to resemble yours and we reach very similar conclusion although the details seem to be different. However, our ideas seem to share the two particle state. I arrive at them very quickly as I try to play god and try to design a dynamic universe.

Please checkout my idea and see if it makes any sense to you. thanks.

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3127

report post as inappropriate

Dear Walter,

I highly appreciate your well-written essay in an effort to understand.

It is so close to me. «An outstanding feature of the physics of information is that it does not depend on the validity of abstract axioms (of quantum mechanics)».

Wheeler was declared a very useful entity - geons, analogues of real strings, which are sources of quantum information, and which are the basis of my work.

I hope that my modest achievements can be information for reflection for you.

Vladimir Fedorov

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3080

report post as inappropriate

I highly appreciate your well-written essay in an effort to understand.

It is so close to me. «An outstanding feature of the physics of information is that it does not depend on the validity of abstract axioms (of quantum mechanics)».

Wheeler was declared a very useful entity - geons, analogues of real strings, which are sources of quantum information, and which are the basis of my work.

I hope that my modest achievements can be information for reflection for you.

Vladimir Fedorov

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3080

report post as inappropriate

Dear Walter

If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the final days of the contest, will you consider mine please?

A couple of days in and semblance of my essay taking form, however the house bound inactivity was wearing me. I had just the remedy, so took off for a solo sail across the bay. In the lea of cove, I had underestimated the open water wind strengths. My...

view entire post

If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the final days of the contest, will you consider mine please?

A couple of days in and semblance of my essay taking form, however the house bound inactivity was wearing me. I had just the remedy, so took off for a solo sail across the bay. In the lea of cove, I had underestimated the open water wind strengths. My...

view entire post

report post as inappropriate

Dear Walter,

An interesting essay from an information perspective.

You state: "The encoded information is objective in the sense that it is independent of an external observer; it is realistic in the sense that it describes the result of a real (and repeatable) measurement in combination with a real manipulation of the measuring device."

There appears to be an assumption with information theory adherents that 'information' does not require an observer and can somehow be evaluated 'objectively'. An understanding of what the measurement is about, how it is being captured and the purpose for its capture is needed for any 'measurement' to have meaning. This requires an intelligence - an external observer.

On the other side, a 'bit', in mathematical terms, can represent anything. That is the abstract nature of numbers and mathematics. It is also what separates it from physics, which is always about something (and not anything). The shift to 'algebras' in mathematics in the past two hundred years (or less) has been a shift to involve even more abstract concepts into what mathematics deals with. This has provided physics with the means to build more abstract theories on mathematics.

But 'information' is always about something and so is limited by the range of what a 'thing' is. If physics expands to include things that are not today considered things, then the domain of 'information' will have expanded - even without changing mathematics.

So information appears to be like all those turtles, an endless recursion of 'things'.

Take care,

Don

report post as inappropriate

An interesting essay from an information perspective.

You state: "The encoded information is objective in the sense that it is independent of an external observer; it is realistic in the sense that it describes the result of a real (and repeatable) measurement in combination with a real manipulation of the measuring device."

There appears to be an assumption with information theory adherents that 'information' does not require an observer and can somehow be evaluated 'objectively'. An understanding of what the measurement is about, how it is being captured and the purpose for its capture is needed for any 'measurement' to have meaning. This requires an intelligence - an external observer.

On the other side, a 'bit', in mathematical terms, can represent anything. That is the abstract nature of numbers and mathematics. It is also what separates it from physics, which is always about something (and not anything). The shift to 'algebras' in mathematics in the past two hundred years (or less) has been a shift to involve even more abstract concepts into what mathematics deals with. This has provided physics with the means to build more abstract theories on mathematics.

But 'information' is always about something and so is limited by the range of what a 'thing' is. If physics expands to include things that are not today considered things, then the domain of 'information' will have expanded - even without changing mathematics.

So information appears to be like all those turtles, an endless recursion of 'things'.

Take care,

Don

report post as inappropriate

Dear Donald,

Thank you very much for your comment.

It's not quite clear to me whom you mean by "information theory adherents" and who you think makes the "assumption" that "information does not require an observer." By Shannon's work, 'information' has become a physical quantity like 'energy' and 'momentum.' It can be evaluated objectively and there is no need for an 'assumption' that this can really be done. In fact, this evaluation can be done by a Roboter - at CERN they do it this way - and there is no need that the Roboter "understands the purpose of the measurement."

Of course, you are right that 'information' is always about something. This is not different from other physical terms such as 'energy' and 'momentum.' But I don't understand what this has to do with those turtles. Think of the 'hen-egg' system: The hen hatches from the egg, a hen lays eggs. This is a logically consistent description of the hen-egg system; what are the turtles needed for?

Best regards,

Walter

Thank you very much for your comment.

It's not quite clear to me whom you mean by "information theory adherents" and who you think makes the "assumption" that "information does not require an observer." By Shannon's work, 'information' has become a physical quantity like 'energy' and 'momentum.' It can be evaluated objectively and there is no need for an 'assumption' that this can really be done. In fact, this evaluation can be done by a Roboter - at CERN they do it this way - and there is no need that the Roboter "understands the purpose of the measurement."

Of course, you are right that 'information' is always about something. This is not different from other physical terms such as 'energy' and 'momentum.' But I don't understand what this has to do with those turtles. Think of the 'hen-egg' system: The hen hatches from the egg, a hen lays eggs. This is a logically consistent description of the hen-egg system; what are the turtles needed for?

Best regards,

Walter

Donald,

On

Quora: What is the difference between information and knowledge

you can find a nice graphics by David Snowden explaining the difference between data, information, and knowledge.

Walter

On

Quora: What is the difference between information and knowledge

you can find a nice graphics by David Snowden explaining the difference between data, information, and knowledge.

Walter

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