Wednesday, January 10, 2024

If a Proton is just Bits, it must be a lot

Seth Lloyd argues that matter is made of information:
Does information work at the deep levels of physics, including quantum theory, undergirding the fundamental forces and particles? But what is the essence of information—describing how the world works or being how the world works. There is a huge difference. Could information be the most basic building block of reality?

Seth Lloyd is a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He refers to himself as a “quantum mechanic”.

Okay, but he is challenged for a proton, and says that a proton is fully described by 50-60 bits for its location in the universe, and 1 bit for spin up or down.

What? The diameter of the observable universe is about 4x1028 cm. So that is about 6x1084 cm3 in volume, so it would take that many bits to specify location to the nearest cubic cm.

A cubic cm is a lot of space for a proton. We need at least 100 bits to specify a proton location to some small region. And the universe could be bigger than what is observable.

But that is not my issue here. The proton could have velocity. Need many more bits for that.

And spin is not just one bit. Spin could point in any direction, not just up or down.

None of these proton parameters can be specified precisely, because of Heisenberg Uncertainty. A proton can have a wave function, and not position and momentum at the same time. So how many bits are needed for a wave function?

But then the wave function is not even real, so I don't know if it makes sense to ask how many bits are needed for a wave function.

So if a proton is equivalent to some number of bits of information, I don't know how to calculate that number. Lloyd is underestimating them.


  1. Oh god. It's Star Trek rubbish techno jargon parading as science...again. It's not hard to tell what these 'scientists' watched on the boob tube growing up. This idea of reducing actual things to bits of data is bullshit. You can represent information inside a digital computer efficiently by using bits of data, but that still requires (1.)Physical hardware, (2.) software to run on said hardware, and (3.) a person who can actually understand what the outputted data represents. If there is no person available who understands the output, there is no information, just like any other dead language without a speaker and a Rosetta Stone to translate.

  2. I guess the next question about the whole ridiculous 'the universe as bits of information schtick' is :
    How many bits is your universal OS/architecture running on?

    Any computer science major will tell you the more memory address space you want, the more bits are required to represent the same piece of information. In an eight bit architecture/OS you can represent a single digit number in eight bits. We now presently use a 64 bit architecture in modern PCs, meaning the same number which could be represented in eight bits now requires 64 bits. This law of diminishing returns is why there is an upper limit of accessible memory, as your memory grows, the size of what it takes to represent something inside it grows. Presently, the internet is straining under this rule, as the number of IP addresses is quickly running out, but if they increase the size of the IP address to allow for more addresses, it will take far more bandwidth to represent the same amount of data, which then overloads the capacity of your internet bandwidth causing your rate of data packet transmission to slow down.

    Physicists should really learn about the reality of how computers actually work before they decide to base their silly theories off of them.

  3. As a further note just to throw more gasoline on the fire, Only in theory is a bit actually a one or a zero. In reality (or inside a digital computer) there is no actual one or zero bits, there is only two potential states of a higher and lower voltage the computer has to differentiate, thus it is binary. They actually tried to construct base ten computation devices, but it was very difficult if not impossible to construct one that the computer could accurately and consistently differentiate between ten different states of voltage to represent the base ten numbering system. Base two was easy because it only takes two possibilites, a higher and lower state of voltage respresenting a one and zero to compare.

    There is no inherent reason why a one would be an 'on' bit or higher in voltage and a zero would be an 'off' bit or lower in voltage as long as the use was consistent and the computer could differentiate between the two voltages.