The Science of Existence – The Information Paradigm

The Information Paradigm

A century of physics has taught us that information is a crucial player in physical systems and processes. Regard the physical world as made of information, with energy and matter as incidentals. ~ Israeli theoretical physicist Jacob Bekenstein

As matter is made of energy, and energy is nothing more than an immaterial concept, theoretical physicists progressed to considering whether there is a meaningful essence of existence. Their answer: information.

Information Theory

The fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point, either exactly or approximately, a message selected at another point. ~ Claude E. Shannon

American mathematician Claude E. Shannon founded information theory in 1948 with a seminal paper on “a mathematical theory of communication.” Shannon sought to comprehend the fundamental limits of signal processing and communications operations, such as data compression. Information theory has since been applied to several sciences, including physics, genetics, evolutionary biology, intelligence physiology, and ecology.

Shannon treated information as meaningful content received from a message transmission. The potential problem is noise. Shannon used the term entropy to ascribe the inherent uncertainty of received (destination) information equating to transmitted (source) information.

Bizarrely, information theory ignores the most important aspect of information: that there must be both a source and a perceiver of it. With their ersatz information paradigm, physicists cannot pick the lock of significance because they overlook the key.

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Everything in our reality is made up of information. ~ Vlatko Vedral

Slamming into a dead end in trying to suss the nature of energy, Shannon’s information theory washed up on the shores of physics, with the notion that the universals of the universe were themselves information. Gerard ‘t Hooft proposed the idea in 1993. Instead of a law where energy was only transmuted in a closed cosmos, never created nor destroyed, the dicta morphed into a universe where no information is lost – a conceptual absurdity taken seriously.

Bytes of reality may have their bits scrambled beyond practical redemption, but alchemic physicists believe it is at least theoretically conceivable that some accounting trick might right a digital Humpty Dumpty. Otherwise, all is lost.

The whole structure of everything we know would disintegrate if you opened the door even a tiny bit for the notion of information to be lost. ~ American theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind

The Holographic Principle

Holography is a huge leap forward in the way we think about the structure and creation of the universe. ~ Dutch theoretical physicist Kostas Skenderis

With energy cast aside for sheer data as the source of cosmic construction, the holographic principle emerged, with existence as an information structure painted on a cosmological canvas; like a hologram, where information is both distributed and entangled. Gerard ‘t Hooft concocted the concept in 1993. Leonard Susskind gave it wings via strings in 1995 with a string theory model. Inscrutably, all that is needed to encode the hd richness of the 3d world is a mere 2 dimensions, as if Nature could be written on a piece of paper.

Most physicists believe that the degrees of freedom of the world consist of fields filling space. Instead of a 3-dimensional lattice, a full description of Nature requires only a 2-dimensional lattice at the spatial boundaries of the world. The world is 2-dimensional and not 3-dimensional as previously supposed. ~ Leonard Susskind

Remarkably, what goes unremarked is energy–data equivalence. The ordered patterns that energy take are inherently the informational content of existence. As energy creates forms greater than 3D spatially (e.g., virtual particles), the holographic principle is hooey. Treatment of black holes under this hypothetical regime illustrates the folly.

Singularities imply information loss. ~ Gerard ‘t Hooft et al

Radiation from black holes, predicted by Stephen Hawking in 1974, has been shown to exist. The randomness of Hawking radiation obliterates information. For years, Hawking had no problem with that idea. But once quantum information theory became popular among physicists, Hawking contradicted himself, with the hedge that information is preserved if one waits for the black hole to completely evaporate. In Hawking’s imagination, the ‘information’ rent by a black hole reintegrates in a Humpty Dumpty manner once it dries up.

The physics of black holes – immensely dense concentrations of mass – provides a hint that the principle might be true. Studies of black holes show that, although it defies common sense, the maximum entropy or information content of any region of space is defined not by its volume but by its surface area. ~ Jacob Bekenstein

In bounding the universe to 2 spatial dimensions under the holographic principle, by definition, no energy can actually go into a black hole; doing so would defy the 2D limit, as well as information being lost. So, the matter drawn to a black hole simply piles up on its horizon (surface) as a sheet of increasingly dense information entropy.

When matter falls into a black hole, the increase in black hole entropy always compensates or overcompensates for the “lost” entropy of the matter. ~ Jacob Bekenstein

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The holographic principle requires a medium for the canvas. The concept of a cosmic canvas is not new.


Aether has a long history. 2,300 years ago, Aristotle proposed aether as a divine substance that makes up the heavenly spheres and bodies. Aether was the 5th element; the basic 4 being earth, water, fire, and air.

As physics solidified through the centuries aether held its own, being the medium by which electromagnetism propagated and through which light traveled.

The concept of luminiferous aether had its heyday in the 19th century. Particularly popular with British physicists and mathematicians was the Victorian Theory of Everything, whereby every atom was soaked in aether. Lord Kelvin developed the Vortex Theory, based upon mathematical knots, whereby atoms were vortices in the aether.

There can be no doubt that the interplanetary and interstellar spaces are occupied by a substance. ~ James Clerk Maxwell on cosmic aether in 1870

In 1887, American scientists Albert Michelson and Edward Morley set out to show the aether flow by measuring light patterns. In one of the most famous failed experiments of all time, the aether wind didn’t blow. Nevertheless, the Michelson-Morley experiment shed some light for Albert Einstein, who came up with special relativity in its wake.

With the holographic principle, the aether is back, though shrunk to a fantastically flimsy sheet in a 3D universe, with information digitally tucked away in a fluctuating foam, with the bits miraculously shorter than Planck length, which is the theoretical limit of spatial measurement. (An electron is 1015 larger than Planck length.) Foam at this resolution is eminently convenient, as it puts any prospect of proof out of reach.

At Planck length, the structure of spacetime becomes dominated by quantum effects. It is theoretically impossible to determine the difference between 2 locations less than 1 Planck length apart.

The human imagination incessantly demonstrates that actuality is no bar to abstraction. Freewheeling minds roam all the way to the foam, where physics gives way to Dada philosophy.

At a very, very small scale, there are these little foamlike fluctuations. ~ American astronomer Nicholas Suntzeff


In classical physics, concepts of entropy quantify the extent to which we are uncertain about the exact state of a physical system at hand or, in other words, the amount of information that is lacking to identify the microstate of a system from all possibilities compatible with the macrostate of the system. If we are not quite sure what microstate of a system to expect, notions of entropy will reflect this lack of knowledge. Randomness, after all, is always and necessarily related to ignorance about state.

In quantum mechanics, positive entropies may arise even without an objective lack of information. This entropy arises because of a very fundamental property of quantum mechanics: entanglement. ~ German physicist Jens Eisert et al

The volume of a thermodynamic state is an intensive property that equals an examined system’s volume per unit of mass. Volume is a function of state, and is interdependent with other intensive properties, such as temperature and pressure. But the entropy of a region within a thermodynamic system – its volume scaling – is an extensive property.

Whereas an intensive property is independent of system’s size or materiality, an extensive property is dependent upon such system characteristics. The basic difference is how a property is stated. Whereas extensive properties are (absolute) measures of a system, intensive properties tend to be ratios of certain system attributes.

Intriguingly, for typical ground states, volume scaling follows a simple, often logarithmic, area law. The scaling of ground state in a designated region is merely linear to its boundary area. This owes to inherent entanglement in a ground state.

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By terminating existence at its singularity (past the event horizon), a black hole can be said to hide information. Following the holographic principle, entropy is a measure of missing information, and so involves a level of uncertainty. From this perspective a black hole is chock full of entropy.

Black hole entropy is considered the amount of entropy that a black hole must have for it to comply with laws of thermodynamics, as interpreted by an observer outside the black hole. But the entropy of a black hole follows the volume scaling of a typical ground state, not that of a thermodynamic system. Black hole entropy increases only as fast as its surface area increases, not its volume. (Note that the volume of a black hole, in being a singularity of mass/energy, is necessarily infinite, which means that black holes are beyond thermodynamics, and everything else in existence, for that matter.)

From an information theory standpoint, the area law for black hole horizon entropy is analogous to measuring how many files are in a filing cabinet drawer based upon the surface area of a drawer, rather than how deep the cabinet goes.

Cool helium to 2.17 K and it becomes a superfluid. Owing to the entanglement incurred in this state, measuring the entropy of a puddle of supercooled helium follows the same area law as for a black hole or a ground state: sussing surface area is sufficient.

So-called area laws for quantum entanglement are widespread. ~ Italian theoretical physicists Paolo Zanardi & Lorenzo Campos Venuti


By shifting viewpoint to information instead of energy, physicists vest hope in the holographic principle to point the way to a unified theory of everything, especially reconciling relativity with quantum mechanics.

The holographic principle is a signpost to quantum gravity. ~ American string theorist Raphael Bousso

That signpost is illegible.

The general consensus is that the amount of information that Nature can store in a very tiny volume of space and time is gigantic, it is so tremendously big that there is no hope whatsoever to follow this thing with any rigorous mathematics at all. ~ Gerard ‘t Hooft

In 1997, Argentinian theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena developed, via dazzling math, a version of the holographic principle which reconciles the paradox between black holes and string theory, via M-theory D-branes. A mathematical minimalist, he was able to do so by upping the number of necessary spatial dimensions to 5, a cardinal violation of the holographic principle’s minimal spatial dimensionality (a 3d world from a 2d construct). Maldacena admits that the holographic principle is just flashy hokum.

It is not clear how to define a holographic theory for our universe; there is no convenient place to put the hologram. So far, no example of the holographic correspondence has been rigorously proved – the mathematics is too difficult. ~ Juan Maldacena

 Gravity & Thermodynamics

Dutch theoretical physicist Erik Verlinde suggests that gravity arises once spacetime has emerged.

Gravity is explained as an entropic force caused by a change in the amount of information associated with the positions of bodies of matter. ~ Erik Verlinde

Working out gravity using the holographic principle, Verlinde mathematically demonstrated that Newtonian thermodynamic and gravitational laws, and Einstein’s general relativity, naturally arise at appropriate scales of observation.

Indian theoretical physicist Thanu Padmanabhan agrees. Padmanabhan showed how Einstein’s equations describing gravity can be rewritten in a form that makes them identical to the laws of thermodynamics. Gravity turns out to be an emergent metric of spacetime. Considering that gravity dimensionally defines the characteristics of spacetime, Padmanabhan’s common-sense conclusions proverbially sewed silk from the sow’s ear of holography.

The underlying description of gravity may lie in a microstructure made up of “atoms of spacetime.” ~ Thanu Padmanabhan


The explanatory power of the holographic principle in deriving observed forces does give pause to wonder about what is behind the veil of Nature. If existence is information in action, the cosmos must be a coherent illusion coming from an intelligent source.

The whole 3-dimensional physical world is an illusion born from information encoded elsewhere. ~ Canadian theoretical physicist Mark Van Raamsdonk


Special relativity creates a universal speed limit: nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. In other words, causality is universal. This is locality.

Electromagnetism and gravity work at a distance but in concert; hence fields. All the known forces of physics work at a distance, including the nuclear forces, though the distances there are subatomically short. Still, locality is maintained.

But entanglement of particles is also known. Entangled quanta respond to each other instantaneously. Alter an entangled photon, and its twin instantly changes with it. This is nonlocality. What can explain it? Only hidden dimensions.