Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is information Physical?

"Information is inevitably tied to a physical representation. It can be carved on stone tablets, marked by a spin up or down, a hole punched in a card, or many other alternative physical phenomena. It is not just an abstract entity; it does not exist except through a physical embodiment. It is, therefore, tied to the laws of physics and the parts available to us in our real physical universe".- Rolf Landauer

According to Brian Hayes "There is a distinction between representation of information and information itself but both of these have always a physical form. Somehow, this increase of physical representations for information does not strengthen the conviction that information is subordinate to its physical representation. When we can write the same message in so many forms–everything from lines in the sand to holograms–the message itself begins to seem just as substantial as the physical medium, and perhaps more enduring".

The fact that the process of copying the bits of information is easier than capturing them, leads us to an argument from Rolf: "we can represent information in many physical forms: as packets of electric charge, as base pairs in a DNA molecule, as beads on an abacus. When we build machinery to process this information, we can also choose among many different computing technologies such as valves, transistors or even neurons".

We use numbers as representations of quantities, they are not pure information whatever that means. They make a reference to some quantity in a mind of an observer and that relation constitutes the information - the match between a physical instance of a symbol and the observers ability to connect that symbol to a certain quantity.

Some mathematical philosophy schools (Realists, Platonists and intuitionists) believed that mathematical concepts and propositions have meanings, and when we formalize the language of mathematics, these meanings are meant to be reflected in a more precise and more concise form. But according to the formalist school understanding mathematical object has no meaning; implying that all we have are marks and rules governing how these marks can be combined.

Haynes points at the fact that "There is a tendency to think of mathematics as a tool which somehow existed before and outside of our physical world. Mathematics, in turn, allowed the formulation of physical laws which then run the world. Nevertheless we emphasize that information handling has to be done in the real physical world, and the laws of physics exist as instructions for information handling in that real world. It, therefore, makes no sense to invoke operations, in the laws of physics, which are not executable, at least in principle, in our real physical world".

Here are two interesting riddles for you to think about:
  • How do you distinguish the concrete from the abstract when the word “concrete” is in fact an abstract concept? Or how do you distinguish the physical from the nonphysical with the nature of the word “physical” is in fact nonphysical?
  • How can we ask--not to mention answer--the question “What is information?” when the question itself is, in fact, pure information? - Bertrand Russell


human being said...


i was on the path
the scientist was with me
i had nothing
i knew nothing
i hold out my hand


the scientist said



examine it

the breeze took it
my hand
before i could do so

the scientist said



we know nothing about it

i walked on
the scientist was not with me
i had nothing
i knew nothing
i hold out my hand

i said


my hand started leafing

i walked on
i was god


JanetK said...

I think what we have here is a paradox that is the result of jumping across heirarchy levels. For example we cannot explain circulation in terms of quarks. We have to explain circulation in terms of phsyiology and then phsyiology in terms of biochemistry and biophysics. Then explain those in terms of ordinary chemistry and physics; then particle physics including the subparticle quark. In neurobiology there is not yet an accepted theoretical model of the level between mind and neuron. There are some models and some bits and pieces but there is no firm accepted big theory to understand the nature of the physical embodiment and manipulation of information. (no theory like quantum mechanics, the periodic law, plate techonics, evolution - only little clues and ideas).

guillermo said...

There is a saying I like that is:
"The universal can be expressed in a pure manner only when the particular does not obstruct it's path"
I think that this might be what is happening here

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting saying, I really liked it, It sounds very wise,
The fact is that I can not relate it completelly to what I say in this post because I do not thing that the
issues that seem to be obstructing the clarity of the problem are just particularities, I think they are important issues.
But I might be wrong, I do not have things completelly clear.
Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts.

ines said...

I was thinking that paradoxes, like the ones you wrote at the end of the post tend to produce lots of interest in human beings, we tend to spend quite some time reflecting about them whenever we step with one. Another thought I had is that they a strange effect on our appreciation of science and also of literature and discourses, its affects somehow their validity.

Mariana Soffer said...

In the case of literature's paradoxes attracts us so because a paradox suggests that there are limits to human rationality, and thus strikes a blow for literature and against science. Paradox ensures literature its own special realm, safe from the culturally imperialistic inroads of science's orderly, rational-empirical constructions. Literature thus gets to be seen as "bigger" than reason, because only literature can live with paradox, and thus only literature reveals those "deeper" truths of contradiction-ridden human existence, whereas science can never penetrate beyond rational manipulations of phenomenal surfaces.

Mariana Soffer said...

Always a pleasure to read your challenging and interesting arguments.

I always thought that paradoxes could only happen when levels talk about levels, and the one that refers to the other is not related to the one that is refered to in a coherent (also hierarchical) positiont to have any authority to do it.

But I am not sure that trying to explain one phenomenom such as gravity from a much lower level such as the atomic one can or does result in a pardox.

What certainly can result in a paradox is when you refer to the same level you are talking from, like for example if I say "This sentense is false".

Hope you understand what I said, I am not sure I expressed myself very clear. There is an interesting author that talks a great deal about paradoxes that is called Douglas Hofstadter, I strongly recomend to you if you can read some text from him.
It was an honour having you back

Mariana Soffer said...

Walking man
I almost cry while reading your poem, It made me very emotionall. I do not want to explain or even search
the explanation about why it produced that to me. I might me delirious but I felt it was important to you (you really cared) to
make me understand of feel what you wanted to transmit to me.
I think that you understand at a deep level some things that I can bearly scratch the surface while trying to use words.
And that you do not have much appreciation neither interest in science, which I do, it comes natural to me the desire to explore
and create (if it is possible) within its boundaries.

I am really greatfull for this comment WM

human being said...


human being

walking man


freudian slip

what does it say?

what do you say?

what do i say?

you are more than a scientist

that's why i can talk to you

i passed through science

to find me

science is poetry
poetry is science

depending on how you live them

depending on how you love them

depending on how you express them

i love you
i live you
i express you

what i wrote was the poem trapped in you

that's why you cried

i drink your tears





ANNA-LYS said...

I am convinced that questions always has to be related to a context, a level etc. to be able to even think about. Word to me are only tools, and I get no-ware discussing the tool, if I don´t know what You like to use it upon. To discuss tools or concept per see will always stay in the abstract dimension, it can never be concrete without its relation.

"everything is relative" ;-)

ANNA-LYS said...

Is information physical?
It depends! ;-)

Shadow said...

oh gosh. to me abstract is a not commonly recognised thing, whereas concrete is. and non-physical you senses but cannot touch, whereas physical you can. as for information, everything is hear, see, touch, taste, feel, is just that, information. but i suppose this is waaaay too simple.

Mariana Soffer said...

True, also how the question is made can be completelly determinant on the answer.
I do agree with you that words are just tools, the same way internet is a tool, atomic power is a tool,
etc ... The sole idea to judge wether those things are good or bad is completelly stupid, the judgment should
consider the intention of humans in using those things and also judge them, not the inhert tools.

Thanjs a lot for your cool and interesting comment

Mariana Soffer said...

Probably you are right, people do not understand what is abstract, I guess is simply somethings that is pretty far away from the concrete and real things that there are in this world.

You are right in proposing that everything is information, and that what inputs in us is just what our organs are capable of incorporate and registrate. And also there are different kinds of inputs such as auditive and tactil, and I think it is really interesting that the input according to it s kind is directelly connected to the part of the brain that process that raw input.

Thanks a lot for making me want to use the 3 neurons that I have left alive at this time.

Mariana Soffer said...

nice answer. If you ever get to know that the answer is "it varies" let me know cause I found it fascinating to talk to somebody that has a compelling posture regarding that toppic.

Jim Murdoch said...

As regards your two questions we can tie ourselves in knots if we're not careful and miss the point. If we simplify this it's probably easier to see what I'm on about. Words, the word 'word' itself, can only be defined by using other words which can in turn only be defined by still more and more words heading off into infinity. You cannot measure time since it is infinite (arguably) but we can measure chunks of time and so the same with words and information – we deal with finite chunks. It's like the sea – where does it begin and where does it end? The questions are meaningless but you can haul a bucket of water out of it and do so many things with it completely ignorant of its origins.

To answer your lead question: information is an abstract which can be represented in physical (and symbolic) terms. The words that I am typing just now are symbols representing (as best I can) the information held in my head. Arguably, since that information is recorded chemically, one could argue that it needs physicality but what we hold in our heads is merely a copy. I don't hold love in my head – or even in my heart – because everyone else on the planet is capable of working with the concept even those who have never had it defined. I do not retain information in its purest form, merely a record of my experiences with it.

Mariana Soffer said...

Human Being

I was

afraid of daylight
afraid of miseryi
afraid of fear
and alone

But then I saw
a human being
a text
a human being text

it gave me hope
and led to know
that human sings
and understands the lullaby

Ribbon said...

I like what you're saying here and thank you for your kind comment upon your visit to me :)

x Ribbon

human being said...


you're flowing like a beautiful stream...
such an expressive and touching poem... love to you!


we know
we are
all one
not alone
the same lullaby -
the only song
there is


and look at the flow of information you initiated...

was it physical?

you ARE a poet... because you see the world poetically...


christopher said...

Nicely presented. Scientists want the physical constraints because like Wittgenstein they must say that beyond these limits there is nothing to say. All the tools of verification lie in the physical realm. If more exists it cannot be verified within the rules.

But we can and do find confirmation in the realms of fantasy and the arts. This is not the verification of science. It is something else. We confirm for each other that the inner life exists. While our information in this realm may not be anchored by the clear rules of science, when we are confirmed in this way life becomes something worth living.

Even the beauty found in science spills over into this realm of confirmation. We do not rejoice in each other because the experiment yielded its result, but because of the passion in the success.

There is not only truth, there is beauty. These are not the same. They may overlap, but some truths are not beautiful and some beauty will not pass through the sieve of truth. Some philosophy, while remaining disciplined, is not focussed only on truth, and that is why philosophy, the "disciplined love of wisdom" is not only a scientific endeavor.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jim Murdoch

You are right, it is pretty easy to end up tied in knots.

Great explanation of y our concept in your first paragraph! Is as if you take parts of a hole, because the hole is infinite like the universe and also because you can not take infinite things, and do what you can do whith what you grabbed, so your capable to infer, deal, measure only with a particular limmited sample of the hole. And I guess the different samples you take can give you different perspectives from where to see.
There is one think you made me doubt about. Are definitions only composed by words?

I woulc say that information needs to be represented in physical, at least at an atomic level.
Yes you are typing symbols wich are representations of the real thing.
I understand also that the representation of love is something completelly different than "love", they belong to two separate words.
I do also agree with you that we do not retain information (symbols) exactely as they are, we have a particular way of representing and storing them in our head, which has nathing to do with the physical symbol.

Thanks a lot for your wounderfull coment, you really made me think and reflect.


Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad you liked it, and for me it is always a pleasure to visit your place


Mariana Soffer said...

human being
Thanks! I am blushing.
You keep writting beautiful creative words, I never get tired of them. They always move me.

Anyway, I was wondering if you would mind if I complie some of the comments you wrote in my blog and do a post or part of one with it?

Talk to you in less than 5 mins

Mariana Soffer said...

Well those who think like that constraint themselves.
For strict scientists it is worthless anything that can not be handled according to their rules (sciene,math,...) because it has no "real" validity (which is their god), and they can not obtain anything new or interesting basing themself on their classing frameworks.

I completelly agree and enjoyed your second paragraph. In there there are also the magical things life has.

I am not sure that the beauty of science necesary spills, things could be different with a small effort, maybe just by twisting a little their structured head. Scientists often rejoice in the passion that their work awakes in them.

Excuse me but I did not understood properly what do you refer to by "philosopy" therefore I can not reply, It would be wounderfull if you could clarify that for me. Anyway I kind of infer that you are refering to a discipline in wich a more ample universe can be aproached.

Really interesting what you say, I found some things excelent, some others I am not sure wether I am understanding properly or wether I do not agree a hundred perent.

Please keep feeding this discussion.
Take care

Renee said...

Mariana you are so smart. Lots and lots of brains.


Anonymous said...


Time, self, space, love, mind, death, life, information...
Don’t ask me, and I know what they are. Ask me, and I do not.

Ignorance = happiness

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot, but remember (and I tell this to myself) that are many other quialities humans can have that ar very valuable.

You are so nice

Mariana Soffer said...

Really cool what you said, sounds really wise.
Just a tip my dear friend, there is a famous saying in english that is similar than what you wrote but is like this "Ignorance is bliss".

Take care and be well!!

human being said...


were imprisoned in me
for a way

you freed them
they are yours


yes dearest Mariana you can use them where you'd like... i'm honored...

love and peace to you

christopher said...

Mariana, What is interesting here, English is the lingua franca, but is your second language. I have almost no Spanish, Brazilian, Portugese, or I am ashamed to say, any other language. I reread what I wrote, and my response to your questions, I wish in this case I had fluency in your primary language.

I believe what I said can be translated precisely and you would say you are satisfied and need no more to decide whether you agree with me or not. I think sometimes poetry is easier than prose in a person's second language. I have a Canadian friend who is Dutch and this trouble comes up with her too.

But then, I am not everyone's cup of tea.

Jon said...

interesting line of questioning... Marshal McLuhan has an answer for this... the information (message) and the medium are often confused

so the number may be the medium, the container, while the message, the info, has no physical property.

or a light... a light can be used to transmit Morse code, say... the light waves work at a certain frequency, but this is not the information... the information is in the understanding of it... for McLuhan

as for me... i don't know what i think... as usual


Anonymous said...

it's like
the biggest number
that we could ever think of

plus one

sometimes we just can't get there

from here

( but still fun to try :)

× × ×


Mariana Soffer said...

human being

I must confess that you make me
wish i could shrink you down and carry you around in my pocket all day long.

Thanks a lot!

Mariana Soffer said...

I know you are not everybody's cup of tea, and belive me that that is one of the things I like about you, that you say what you think and do not try to pretend.
Regarding the language issue I do not know what to tell you, just that I guess we'll both do our best to understand each other

Bye bye

Mariana Soffer said...

I belive that what mcLuchlan said that is that the medium becames the message, but you got the important idea he wanted to transmit.

I think it is an interesting proposal the one about the number being the medium and so on and also the one about the light, I need to think about it deeper but it sounds promissing.

I guess that you are on the right track you have the message and the form the message is presented, which is the conntent itself and how you transmit it.

I must confess that I also got lost writting this reply, don't worry, anyway I feel it has a message.

Mariana Soffer said...

t my dear
great analogie, I like that creativity of yours for doing that kind of things with words.

I am going to quote you something that Einstein said that I am sure you are going to like:
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality"

Mariana Soffer said...

t my dear
great analogie, I like that creativity of yours for doing that kind of things with words.

I am going to quote you something that Einstein said that I am sure you are going to like:
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality"

Charles Gramlich said...

If information did not exist, we humans would be forced to invent it.

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich
Interesting thought really interesting.
I was thinking that we invented the concept of information, because information existed since the begginings of the universe, information refers to having a knowledge about something that is valuable of usefull I think.
For example even cave mans had information regarding how to start a fire. They just did not consider it as information like we do now.

J said...

I haven't really anything to say about the main points of your post that contributers haven't covered very well. I would like to raise the question of what is meant when it is said that we can 'do' mathematics.
Why is it that it is said that I don't understand the mathematics behind throwing and catching a ball until I can write them down in symbols? Or even that I am stupid if I cannot symbolise the process?
And what is the 'I' that can or cannot do the maths?
If I want to demonstrate my mastery of mechanics, why is it not enough to bounce a tennis ball off a wall and catch it?
That is me doing it isn't it? It is not a different I to the one that works with mathematical symbols?
Viewed along these lines, what we call intelligence seems to be somewhat crude, and in fact what we do unthinkingly is a lot more sophisticated than what we can understand knowingly.
Over the last few thousand years the symbols have got ever more complicated and more thouroughly interconnected but they are still symbols and are often misleading as a map or representation, and being constantly revised.
Yet because predictions can be made using symbolic thinking (I am thinking of the prediction of the existence of black holes before their discovery by using instruments) it seem that mathematics can reveal some underlying truth that is not connected with our physical experience or memory, unless we perceive or remember black holes in a way which we do not
I hope I am not rambling...

J said...

I hesitate to add more and take your time, but I found this talk to be very good on some very basic points to do with the difference between math symbol and reality.

Maybe one day you will throw out all the science and go live in a cave, Mariana. If you do, don't forget to take a decent sleeping bag and some nice tea!

Tom Bailey said...

I would look at this from the possibility that the concrete part could even be the language and the thought. I know enough to know that I am not capable of knowing the limits absolutely what is possible and what is not.

I love the depth of which you are thinking here it is incredible. I use different levels and styles of thinking like this to solve different types of problems. I have a hard time solving a problem at the same level of thinking that got me there in the first place.

I am always looking for ways in thinking like this of ... what is possible now? How do I take this brilliant information to move my life and the other people around me forward?

The challenge with thinking like this is it create MASSIVE what is possible now that can be like trying to take a drink of water out of a firehose on full blast it can nearly choke and drowd you.

Thank you very much for sharing this now I am off to relax my brain to let in the points of thinking here that I think I can apply.

Kindest regards,
Tom Bailey

Ted Bagley said...

Your questions-
I like , 'A signifier points to another signifier.

kj said...

my heart sister mariana, it is too late and i cannot read all this tonight but i am thinking of you and coming by to say a dear hello.

i am envious of the dialogue between human being and you. how do you do that? it brings me joy to see you both connecting and creating like this--two of my favorite brilliant women.

i will be back. meanwhile, love to you,

Mariana Soffer said...

First of all I am sure you have something to add to this discussion and never think you or anybody is stupid for not being able or not knowing about a certain science, like in this case math.
Lets try to clarify a little your first doubts, I guess by saying you do math it means that you are able to represent/simulate something by using its symbols and rules. That you do not understand the math behind the catch and else refers simply that you are not able to write the math equasions to represent the physical movments in space and time of the ball, which is not necesarilly releant for most people, even for professional players.
The I in can do math refers to the person who is capable to speak coherently in math language about something. It is not enough for demostrating the mastery because by doing that you are just demostrating mastery in coordinating your body movments with external objects, but not of using math to represent that.

You are write we can instinctly our automatically do extremelly complex tasks which are imposible to us to understand how they can be represented or function in the scientific language.
You are right about the fact that symbols are just an aproximation to representation ofreality, not the perfect representation of it. But this representation are trying to be perfected constantly to make them as accurate as possible.

Very interesting your last paragraph, you are right, that is one of the onders of math, they can also calculate how to send a rocket to the moon, that is a tasks that it is impossible for humans to do just by practicing or following their instincts.

I liked your rambling!!

Mariana Soffer said...

you are really conidered, by the way you can write me as much as you want, the worst that could happen is that I take some time to reply.

Anyway I read several books about Allan Watts, I think he is amazing, so I beliving you understand pretty good where do my threads of thoughts go by.

I thought about going to live to a place like usuhaia for a while, I would like to live part there part in bs as, I might do that in a couple of years.

I think you might enjoy the following quotation to end with.

"tiger got to hunt
bird got to fly
man got to sit and wonder why why why?
tiger got to sleep
bird got to land
man got to tell himself he understand
-kurt vonnegut "

I really enjoy the videos, thanks.

Mariana Soffer said...

Tom Bailey
Excellent comment opening, it sounds like you are extremely wise, and free to explore and not limit yourself with useless constraints..

I am glad you find interesting how things are analyzed at different levels of thought., I guess you must have also very interesting analysis, which as you mention are probably really different than mine. I think that we might complement each other in that way, which can be very beneficial and educational for us.

Sorry but I do not get exactly what you mean by what is possible how, can you give me an example? Regarding your quest for ways of using information to improve ours and other’s people lives, I think that is a fundamental question and everybody should pay attention to. Personally I do not find interesting or relevant to obtain new information which can not be used in real life for something beneficial..

I agree that is a challenge, I guess the secret for not getting drown , lost or overwhelm is to always keep an eye on real needs and which things are probably beneficial for life.

Have a wonderful break, I can assure your thoughts are really beneficial and well applied in this context..

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted Bagley
Signifier:A linguistic unit or pattern, such as a succession of speech sounds, written symbols, or gestures, that conveys meaning; a linguistic sign.

I am glad you like it. I guess paradoxes can also appear when in order to describe something you utilize 2 signifiers and they are used with signifier1 pointing to singnifier2 and also with signifier2 pointing to signifier1.

Mariana Soffer said...

I feel happy that you wrote here because you were thinking about me although it was too late for a long intellectual discussion.

I am really happy to have met such interesting and kind people with whom I can communicate very well like, as you said, human being, but also with you although of course in a different style. My secret about talking to H B is just letting here express as wondefull as she does and try write at least descent reply. You are also welcome to add any comment about what we talk about, do not be shy.
Thanks for all your kind compliments and I will be looking forward to see you here.
Whish you the best

Dave King said...

Too abstract becomes sterile, too particular becomes unenlightening.

Mariana Soffer said...

Dave king
Excelent comment!
I think is an art to find the right degree of abstraction and particularization. There are no rules for this, it all depends upon the case.

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB) said...

Information is physical. A clock can not be constructed, that demands no energy. According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy can not be destroyed or made from nothing. Is it possible to create information from nothing?

Shubhajit said...

I just put here an excerpt from my blog to understand the information theory. It is indeed a good subject and apparently look very complicated but if we realize, it is simple like nothing.

If we consider mind as a physical entity (Which in fact it is as it depends on our brains) then information is physical. Whatever, we perceive by our senses we call it physical but there is much beyond that sphere, which governs us more than any solid. Information is what? It is just an inert subject. It is our senses that perceive it and then also it is insufficient. The afferent and motor nerves carry all that information to our brain, and brain process all information. Yet, this is not sufficient. Many of us experience that when we deeply imbibes in something, we can’t hear any other sound for a moment. The pulsation of that sound comes to our ears, hit the tympanum, the nerves into the brain carry the impression and the whole process is complete. Why do we not hear? This is because mind is not attached to it. If mind is detached with the organ, organ may bring any news but it will not receive it. Yet, this is also not sufficient. The whole cycle may be complete, but still perception is not complete. The factor now requires is the reaction within. And what we call knowledge is actually this reaction. Your mind takes it up, and presents it to brain, which groups in relation to perceived impressions, and sends a current of reaction, and with that reaction comes perception. This is called will and the state of mind, which reacts is called intellect.

Shubhajit said...

Yet, this is also not sufficient. A last step is more required to complete the cycle. According to logic, there must be something permanent on which all those impressions must be focused. Suppose, if I want to throw a picture on a sheet, what am I to do. I am to guide various rays of light through the camera to fall upon the sheet and become grouped there. Something is essential to have the picture thrown upon, which does not move. I can’t throw a picture that is moving because ray of lights of camera is moving, and these moving rays of light must be gathered, unified, coordinated, and completed upon something that is stationary, otherwise how could be a picture formed. Similar with the case of sensations of organisms in which these organs of ours are carrying inside and presenting to the mind, mind presents it to intellect and the process is incomplete unless there is something permanent in the background, which we unify all the impressions.

What is that gives unity to changing whole of our being? What is it that keeps up the identity of the moving things moment after moment?

Shubhajit said...

So we see information is basically depends something that is apparently physical but in a strict sense it is non physical. In fact, everything is non-physical; it is just the illusion of time, space and cause that makes everything physical. And there is the answer to your comment in my blog. Why should we worship ourselves, if not GOD because God is nothing but infinite and that infinite is within every organism and it is just apparent physical form that forces to see that this is an object. You are right we are not perfect because perfection is infinite and we are all moving towards that perfection thats why we are disturbed by our imperfections. If we were not moving towards that then we would have lived perfectly forever but that’s not happening.

And, if we have no faith in ourselves then where we could find faith for something outside. When we say we worship God then in a strict sense we actually worship ourselves. Believe, trust, faith, love and all universal phenomena everything is in us. So, whatever we see, hear, perceive, emotion, commotion, and everything is controlled within us, though we (our body) can’t understand it. And again, this impenetrable net of time, space and cause shrouds this simple thing, otherwise how can this evolution is going on?

I am overwhelmed with the previous comment by you. I sometimes also think about animal life. I am glad at least in earth someone at least think like me.

Mariana Soffer said...

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB):
Excellent argument, I agree that you need some physical expression of it, otherwise it would not exist.
Well I believe that there is no way to create information from nothing. Except you are a creationist, which I am certainly not. Darwin talked about this.

I checked your blogs and them seemed pretty interesting but they where all in Swedish, is there anything from you I can read that was done in English?

Thanks a lot for your really interesting comment.

Anonymous said...

In the physical world thing may be
1. Matter
2. Fields
3. Or nothing

If they are matter, they have a precise location (let’s not get into uncertainty, precise location in a classical way).
If they are fields, give them enough time and they will be everywhere. If they are everywhere, so all the information in the universe will mix and there will be no information at all, would be a universal field of non information, since nothing usefull could be taken from there
And if it’s nothing, there information would be no information (not possible)

So, the only possibility left behind is the first one, which is what we see in the everyday world

Problem solved???
Too much time to think in this 25th floor ; )

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB) said...

Thank you very much. You are right, my blog is mainly in swedish.
It is about swedish misunderstandings, being of little interst to foreigners.
If we have a physical conception of the world, all that exist can be observed and measured.
Some persons claim that other things exist, that can't be measured.
They know it, because they have a book, that tells the truth.
I'd say, they have not a physical conception of the world.
Creationists belong to them.
But also mathematicians refuse to measure.
They are not in the field of physics.
Still their results are true and "real" independantly of physical conditons. This is Plato's reality.
What the physicist sees are just shadows, according to Plato. They use math. it's true, but all charlatans decore their weird theories with math.
I could not find a definition of 'information' anywhere among the comments. I define it as 'entropy'. Having this definition, it can't be hard to decide whether it is physical or not. But a creationist may define 'information' differently. ;-)

Mariana Soffer said...

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB)
You should write once in a while in english, I bet you have many interesting things to say.

I completelly agree that "beliver" in physics think that everything can be measure and creationsts not(belive that the the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing).
Well math can be completelly abstract and have nathing to do with reality.
That is a good description of plato's theory of the cave.
Regarding charlatan's I want to mention that math is based in arbitrary precepts. who says 1=1?
Also related to Goedel's theoreme:

Well I think that entropy is like the opposite of information indeed, but I wont go in detail here.
Well entrophy is a theorical concept a mathematical one therefore if you base your definition in that I would be incline to belive it is not physical.
I do not know what creationist belive about it, right now nothing seems reasonable. Well maybe creationists do not belive information exists, that could be the answer.

I love talking to you!
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

Interesting text. I think you explain very well many concepts. I just have the following to add:
I think that when a human being is deeply focused in something it is true that it does not percive things like an other sound, well that is related to the range of awarenes, the range of awarnes is related to the amplitude of consciousness you have.
What capacity do you have to be aware of a number of different things.
Also I think that the first thing the brain does with what it percives is convert it to a representation and store it in a place of the brain. Well I have all this more detailed here:

Mariana Soffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mariana Soffer said...

Excelent thing to think about. I could think of two possibilities either is as if we froze aspects of reality to get it inside of us and unify and integrate those different aspects.
Or maybe we have a way to get in our heads a model of reality which is indeed repesented as in constant movment. If the last one is how our brain works it is easy to see how the identity and unity are mantained.
But non of the 2 theories sounds real to me. I have no answer for this.

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting reasoning regarding infinit and the material or inmaterial, really interesting.

And I also love your argument of the second paragraph, I have to thank you for that concept because you really expanded my mind with it.

Thanks a lot for your last kind comment

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB) said...

So I occasionally do: blogreality It might not be proper english, but something similar. Swenglish we call it. Your blog is very interesting; bringing up classical filosophy in a modern suit. This latest post reveals a paradox: information is physical. We may have hard to accept this as a fact, but we have no problem accepting 'heat' or 'time' as being physical. That is interesting. Time is not even well defined. But that is psychology, of which I know nothing. It is intersting, that you talk about "believer" in physics. Even in this discipline assumptions are made that could never be proven. And to pseudoscience one belief is as as good as the other.
What is math? It is surely not what Plato expected it to be. I came across the
incompletenesstheoreme, when reading about the 'continuum hypothesis' of Cantor. How sad! Math is incontinent!
The Shannon information entropy is identical to thermodynamical entropy. At least I believe it is. A simple watch can only tell if it is day or night (imagine you're sitting in a cave, not able to seeing daylight). This is the least amount of information, I can think of: one bit. According to modern science fundamental particles are guided by similar information. It is information that makes gold heavier than aluminum. This is a physical property, no doubt.
Once again: I really appreciate your blog.

ArtSparker said...

I associate this with two thingss -

The memory palace. As soon as I associate something like a name with a physical object, I stop repeatedly forgetting it.

And the uses of metaphoric representation - symbols can take in so many facets of the whole.

Sometimes it seems to me that logic , aside from the fact that it is a magnificent tool with a limited use, is simply a longing for an ordered universe.

Joe Bloggs said...

If we take the alphanumberbet Ja 2 Nein, the answer is?







cosine(9) = -0.911130262
tangent(9) = -0.452315659
sine(9) = 0.412118485

+ I'm bore + I'm sure I need say nein more ╠)

Harlequin said...

another thought provoking post from you, of course :)
I was also thinking of McLuhan when I was reading, the medium being the message....
I also could not help but think about " physical " and shaped forms of communication like dance and music and song, which bring the notion of physical to a place beyond functionality to expressiveness
as usual, lots to reflect on, thanks

otin said...

If you stare at something that is level long enough, eventually, it will appear to be slanted. Also, how can something be level if the world is round and constantly turning.

Information is partly what we want it to be. If we don't like the information that we get, then we change the rules.

You are so cute when you are all scientific! :)

J said...

I'm wondering if I deleted my own post, above, by accident.

Ruela said...

Happy Xmas ;)

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB) said...

May I add, if I say 'information is physical', I don't say it is "real". Like math, physics is - or could be - based upon arbitrary axioms.You can't, like Shubhajit, say 'physics is not physical'. If Aristotle invented a game called "physics", the pieces of that game must be "physical", but not necessarily "real" or "true".

~otto~ said...

This is so far over my head that I am just going to say hi. "Hi."

Mariana Soffer said...

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB):
Very interesting post, I am glad I actually asked you, let me tell you that is perfectly clear, at least to me, your
english, I think you should keep doing those kinds of posts, I really enjoy them.
Thanks for the compliment about my blog. I liked a lot how you described the paradox, you added a new dimension
to this discussion by mentioning that we consider time physical. Well time is a huge subject in itself, I wrote
something about it here:

You got my point of why I refer to the sciences/areas/disciplines/pseudoSciences as "Beliefs" Which is by the way
completelly related to math being incontinent (I loved how you said that).
As far as I understand I think that Shannon and thermodynamic entropy are completelly analogous also.

I really appreciate your comments, they make me want to keep thinking and investigating.
I think I might had misunderstood you a little, somehow it is difficult for me to understand when you finish
with an idea/topic/theme, and start with another exactly, or if they are all intertwined indeed.
Excuse me for that I did the best I could so far.

A pleasure talking to you.

Mariana Soffer said...

Well I guess your first association is related to how our mind works and stores the information, which is a long subject to discuss, but it is true what you say.
Your second one I think is pretty wise, we can only see facets of reality (for example trough physics, or trough quantum mechanics), but never the hole.

I liked a lot your last paragraph, it is poetic and philosophic. Let me add an extra question. Is it a longing for the feeling that we understand and somehow control the universe?

Thank you very much for your collaboration

Mariana Soffer said...

Joe Bloggs:
It was correct what you wrote, according to math rules, but you get bored because you should go beyond, that is when the fun starts.

Mariana Soffer said...

Glad you liked the post.
Regarding McLuhan, well it is completelly related, you did a great link there. It is well as if information means the message and the physical representation means the form. Therefore according to McLuhan the physical representation ends up being the information (which implies we need a physical representation).

Interesting think to write about, what you mention about physical beyond functionality and more like an expression medium. Well that I would need some time to reflect upon. But I guess it will involve art.

Thanks a lot to you, if you can tell me what you think about what I said about McLuhan.

Mariana Soffer said...


Well your first paragraph refers to our perception models and processing of the input from the outside world. Which is an interesting topic.

I like this:"Information is partly what we want it to be. If we don't like the information that we get, then we change the rules.", I think you have an amazing freedom of thought that you can free yourself from the classic constraints which allows you to think beyond the ordinary, that is fantastic.

Thanks for the cute compliment!!!

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you sweetie, I love your kind and simple comment in the middle of all this complicated reflections.
Same for you!

Mariana Soffer said...

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB):
Check this quote:
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality." ~Albert Einstein

Mariana Soffer said...

You cracked me up, thanks for your refreshing and cute comment.

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB) said...

Checked the time post. Very good! The common man accepts time being physical, but phycicists hesitate. Information is physical, which the common man tends to doubt. Could it be that 'information' involves 'mind', 'spirit', and such mumbo-jumbo. 'Physics' is just the "true reality" to him. Physics is observation. Questions about how nature behaves, when it is not observed, is not physics. Every observation involves energetic exchange. When you look, listen and feel, there is a process of energy transformation.
In the physical world, there is no "hidden" information. Maybe it is in the spiritual world. I have never been there, so I don't know.

Jo said...

Interesting! Music is a form of language, and it is said that Mozart's music was beautiful because it was mathematically perfect. Art, as well, depends on certain mathematical formulas in order to send a message or to please the eye.

I believe there is a mathematical precision to everything, physical and metaphysical.

Now you have given me something to think about all day. Thank you. :-)

Mariana Soffer said...

Tyko Brae (exgen. NB):
I am glad you liked the post and understood what I meant.

Very interesting thoughts regarding that, I like how you liked information with time and all, cool reasoning.

Regarding the spiritual world who knows, it is kind of a creationist standpoint, which I am not a hughe fun of, but I do not discard it either.

Pleasure talking to you

Mariana Soffer said...

Well also painting which can be considered mathematical, like the aurea proportions and the fractal forms pollock used to paint.

Well that is a big question if everything is based on math, even language, I am not sure. But it is worth to research about it.

I am glad you got interested in this.

I leave you here something else you can think about, is all meaning inherently geometrical?

Good luck JO

Harlequin said...

Mariana-- I owuld have to agree with you re the medium being the message and therefore the need for representation. Not that all that can be apprehended necessarily need physical representation.... here I am afraid I am a casualty of my phenomenological training.
cheers :)

Mariana Soffer said...

I am happy that you understood what I msaid (at least tried to), by mentioning mcluhan theory.
I also agree with what you say regarding that not everything needs physical representation. At least not a visible and tangible one. Interesting words.
Do not be afraid, it is futile, maybe we are all casualties, maybe not, but one think I can tell you is that you are not a nusiance, you are actually always expected (I imagine that counts for all the places you visit).

Take care

TC said...


Wonderful synchronicity. After talking with you a moment ago about the tragedy of the linguistic condition I followed you back over here and found we are continuing the conversation.

(You have very empathetic neurons, I believe.)

Plainly there is still much to be learned from silence as well...

Mariana Soffer said...

I belived that we always had a certain wierd synchronicity,
it does not happen to me with everybody, the only one I can
tell you that we had amazing coincidences with was robb from imagine the tenth dimension blog. I think that when this things happen it means we are connected at a certain level.

Thanks you very much for you comment T.

Ted Bagley said...

We need to remember that meaning comes from the signified, though.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted Bagley
You are right, we are on the verge of loosing that important fact of sight.

Rob Bryanton said...

Hi Mariana, another great entry. As you know I subscribe to the digital physics approach, which is why I love and often use the phrase "information equals reality".
Reality is information and vice versa, the two concepts are interchangeable depending upon the point of view from which you approach your subject. The day after you published your entry I happened to publish one called "Life is But a Dream" which showed a movie about what happens when consciousness engages with the information that becomes reality. Now that I'm getting caught up on my work I've just come across your comment here about the synchronicity of minds that can happen when curious people such as you or I are out exploring those information patterns, an I talked about these kinds of synchronicities in that entry as well.

The riddles you pose at the end of this blog entry are, to my way of thinking, examples of what happens when we try to treat information and reality as being two separate things... all sorts of contradictions spring up when we make this assumption.

Fond regards and best of the season to you,


Andy Coffey said...


Fantastic post. Your questions and conversation with your followers reminds me of two of my favorite subjects: one: smell. Especially the theories of smell as put forward by Dr. Luca Turin, as covered in Chandler Burr's excellent The Emperor of Scent. Basically Turin believes that scent works by the nose being able to determine a smells identity by it's vibration, not the current orthodoxy as represented by Dr. Axle's acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Physiology, a few years back, for the structures which "feel" the shape of a molecule, ostensibly, identifying it. For some reason, the award to Dr. Axle depressed me so much, I could not continue attempting to read a book on Turin to my parents. Of course, Turin is having the last laugh utilizing his theories in the commercial world. And of course, I have no concept of the truth, except the delicious notion that information exists in that netherworld that Einstein spent so much energy bringing to us: between Energy and matter: somehow a mediation amongst the two. Even smell!!! Which, is human, after all. What else could it be? More in a second.

Andy Coffey said...

The other thing your incredible talents had me thinking about, was this book I wish I could simply send you (perhaps I should send it with my Art Historian sister, who dearly loves your country, your city, and most of all your people and their works.... she gets to your town a few times a year, and one of these days I am going to have the trip of a lifetime with her, all over your country and it's gifts) called: The Rainbow and the Worm by Mae-Wan Ho. Incredible book about the physics of organisms. Many challenging concepts which I wish to discuss on my blog: our cells are liquid crystals with many many channels of communication beyond the usual concepts of ennervation. Many many other discussions which show Ho, like you, to very much be the poet: one who makes others say, "I've thought about that my entire life, but only heard it when [Mariana] writes, or speaks." In any case, Ho mentions a similar concept to Turin's (discussed above) where the body's cells might communicate via vibration, in sympathetic manner much like a pianos strings sympathetic harmonics. The reason this is important is that the body has a mysterious efficiency in it's chemical transmittance of energy and movement. Muscles, for example, are nearly 100 percent efficient in their utilization of energy, all things considered. Something important given that our bodies would simply overheat were they to be subject to the chemical efficiencies enjoyed in the Scientists lab.
All of this is but a slice of the books wonders. Seriously, I will buy it for you and send it to your institution in care of Mariana Soffer, if I can. Unbelievable book and researcher.
Lastly, plants utilize this harmonic, vibrational manner of transmitting and harboring energy from photons, when the electrons finally fall through their cloroplast's Z scheme. Again, it's nearly 100 percent efficient: unlike anything we can hope to do, for now: but not always.....
Thank you endlessly Mariana: more on my blog about all of this.... soon.

Mariana Soffer said...

Andy Coffey
Thanks a lot for your compliment. Very interesting the smell theories to tell you the truth I did not know about them, thanks for the great lesson. I do also prefer the same theory that you do, it sounds much more interesting, the standard one reminds me of the inmune system works. Well who says smell can not be both things at the same time, we know the famous theory that was so hard to accept for most scientific people.

Great comment andy

Mariana Soffer said...

Andy Coffey
Once again thanks a lot for your complients, please do not pay me so many or I will become a selfish bratt.
So nice to know your sister comes here often and that you are also planning to follow her one of these days, I promise you won t regreat it, I could show you lots of things I am sure you are going to be happy of getting to know. I am going to check later the book you recomended, now you made me curious about it. How cells function was allways very hard to understand for me, even dough I get along pretty well with genetics somehow the chemistry and interaction kills me. Please do a post and teach me about it.
I really apreciate the nice words you pay me, I am blushing. now.
I am even more serious about checking that book sounds so interesting dough I must confess I did not understand a part of what you say (I do not know what is the chloroplast's Z scheme). I will check your blog as soon as I finish answering my comments be sure about it.
Good luck my dear friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Rob Bryanton
Hi my friend, it is really an honour to be able to enjoy your post so often, I feel glad about it.

What a coincidence that you published that movie the day before, I think our relationship might be adding a second coincidence level, the self referential one.

Also let me tell you that I read what you said about synchronicity and found it really exhiting.

Well indeed I am not convince that information does not need to be physical so I can t comment about the end of my blog.

I am sending you a great hugh and lots of inspiration and interesting thoughts towards your head

Stu said...

I wonder about oral traditions, before the invention of writing, where information was passed on from generation to generation. What was the 'physical representation' of the information in this case? Perhaps in some cases objects in the natural environment (e.g. a tree, or a rock formation) played the role of 'physical representation' for the information to be passed on?

Can spoken language be referred to as a 'physical representation'? I don't see why not, but it somehow seems different to the other examples mentioned in this post.

Very interesting nonetheless...

Mariana Soffer said...


Well first I think that you added a great and very important comment to this post. You asked something that is just in front of us, which therefore is impossible to see or think about for most of the people:
"If the spoken language can be considered a phyisical representation"
My response to that would be yes, I think that is correct but it does not have the exact same content that the original one does, cause the media always changes the message. (YOU ARE GREAT FOR ASKING THIS).

I also belive that trees or other objects can be physical representations of it.

This can be reinfored when you checked the definition of what it means:
Information as a concept has many meanings, from everyday usage to technical settings. The concept of information is closely related to notions of constraint, communication, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, mental stimulus, pattern, perception, and representation.

So you see there are a great amount of things that can be considered information, much more than the ones we are used to think.

J said...

I remember coming across Mae Wan Ho's liquid crystal ideas in relation to acupuncture- I think she was proposing it as a basis for the meridians.
I have big doubts about acupuncture but it was interesting stuff.
I think she is big part of this organisation here

Mariana Soffer said...


Thank you very much for the extra information, I have been checking the blog and it seems serious to me, I had accupunture done to me only once, I had tendinitis, and it really worked, the pain went away really soon, but that is all I can tell you regarding it.

Do not forget to send me an email telling me about your things


Andy Coffey said...


You should be blushing... you're an honest rock star. A bad idea, really.
Talk to you later....

PS the Z scheme is merely the somewhat mysterious path by which a chloroplast takes the excited electrons of water, and through bizarre manipulations, drop their energy levels twice, in order perform electrolysis and obtain the fuels (free hydrogen) that eventually allow for growth and energy.

Mariana Soffer said...

Andy coffey:
Thank you once again andy.

Great explanation by the way, really clear, I like learning new things.