Can information be the fundamental building block?

An article on the ArXiv blog starts out by claiming that a number of physicists are starting to imagine that the most effective way to imagine the Universe is as giant collection of information. And by extension most physical processes can be thought of in terms of information exchange, creation or loss.

That’s certainly where the recent papers in Gravitational theory seem to be heading. They are seeing gravity as a primarily entropic phenomenon – and not a fundamental force at all. And, in terms of the electro-weak force and the strong force, imagining quantum interactions in terms of boson exchange (in Feynman diagram dialect) makes it sort of obvious how to extend that idea to the remaining forces.

But if that’s all true, then the idea of real quantum randomness is a major intellectual conundrum. Because creating real randomness in an ordered Universe if very hard. No one has yet been able to do it on computers – and Lord knows they’ve tried. It’s a very important problem in cryptography.

So the news posted today that researchers believe that they’ve actually shown that quantum processes used in a quantum computer generate real randomness is important at a fundamental level:

“The results show that the sequence generated by Quantis is easily distinguishable from the other data sets. This say Calude and co, is evidence that quantum randomness is indeed incomputable. That means that it could not have been be generated by a computer.

[I]f this evidence is taken at face value, it leaves us with a significant conceptual dilemma. On the one hand, it shows that Quantis produces sequences of random numbers that cannot be generated by a computer. And yet Quantis itself is a machine that must work by manipulating information in the way the laws of physics allow–it must be a computer of sorts.

This contradiction can only mean there is something wrong with the way we think about randomness or information or both (or at least with the way I’ve set it up here).

Of course, the answer must lie in the nature of information in the quantum world. It’s easy enough to define information classically as an ordered sequence of symbols. But that definition falls apart as soon as these symbols become quantum in nature.”

Read the full article here.

Author: Nick Knisely

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

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