It from QBit

  • Information, Physics, Quantum, Wheeler’s 1989 essay propounding the idea that the physical universe arises from information, which he dubbed “it from bit.”
    • ESSAY:
    • reading the autobiography of Wheeler, it seems that the scientist has in-
      tended a vision more materialistic than that of Bohr, in which these bits would be true “quanta of reality”: “I suggest that we may never understand this strange thing, the quantum, until we understand how information may underlie reality. Information may not be just what we ‘learn’ about the world. It may be what ‘makes’ the world. An exam- ple of the idea of it from bit: when a photon is absorbed, and thereby ‘measured’ – until its absorption, it had no true reality – an unsplittable bit of information is added to what we know about the world, ‘and’, at the same time, that bit of information determines the
      structure of one small part of the world. It ‘creates’ the reality of the time and place of that photon’s interaction.”
    • The main mystery of quantum mechanics is contained in Wheeler’s
      delayed choice experiment, which shows that the past is determined by our
      choice of what quantum property to observe. This gives the observer a par-
      ticipatory role in deciding the past history of the universe. Wheeler extended
      this participatory role to the emergence of the physical laws (law without
      law). Since what we know about the universe comes in yes/no answers to
      our interrogations, this led him to the idea of it from bit (which includes the
      participatory role of the observer as a key component).
      The yes/no answers to our observations (bit) should always be compatible
      with the existence of at least a possible reality – a global solution (it) of the
      Schr¨odinger equation. I argue that there is in fact an interplay between it
      and bit. The requirement of global consistency leads to apparently acausal
      and nonlocal behavior, explaining the weirdness of quantum phenomena.
      As an interpretation of Wheeler’s it from bit and law without law, I discuss
      the possibility that the universe is mathematical, and that there is a “mother
      of all possible worlds” – named the Axiom Zero.

A Physicist’s Physicist Ponders the Nature of Reality


  • Information, Physics, Quantum, Wheeler’s 1989 essay propounding the idea that the physical universe arises from information, which he dubbed “it from bit.”
  • “it from qubit.”
  • I tend to assume that space-time and everything in it are in some sense emergent.
  • He drew a picture on the blackboard of the universe visualized as an eye looking at itself. I had no idea what he was talking about. It’s obvious to me in hindsight that he was explaining what it meant to talk about quantum mechanics when the observer is part of the quantum system. I imagine there is something we don’t understand about that.

The universe is not supposed to exist

The most elite scientists in the world are still struggling to find why exactly our universe didn’t destroy itself as soon as it came into existence. That’s what science says should have happened – but it clearly hasn’t, since you’re here reading this, as far as we know.

At the beginning of the universe, according to the standard model, there equal amounts of matter and anti-matter. The trouble with that is that they would each have annihilated each other, leaving none of the matter that surrounds us today.

Researchers have been frantically looking for some difference between matter and anti-matter that could explain why the universe is still around. But they have tried a range of different possibilities – that they have different mass, electric charge, or something else – but have found no difference.

That has led researchers to question why the universe is still around at all.

“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually exist,” explained Christian Smorra, the author of a new study conducted at CERN.

“An asymmetry must exist here somewhere but we simply do not understand where the difference is. What is the source of the symmetry break?”

The latest possibility was matter and anti-matter’s different magnetism. But new research shows that they are identical in that way too – lending further mystery to the question of why the universe is still around at all.

The universe’s greatest game of spot the difference goes on. The next hotly anticipated experiment is over at ALPHA, where CERN scientists are studying the effect of gravity of antimatter – trying to answer the question of whether antimatter might fall ‘up’.


Physics drives Sociology

Let’s try to unify a couple of Ideas:

  1. There is no free will. Everything is either random or deterministic.
  2. Physics is the basis of life’s origin and evolution

So together, the above ideas combine to say that using physics (determinism of laws and quantum randomness) life and all it’s variety can come to be.

In that case, it’s not a big stretch to say that the same 2 forces drive human progress (or any other sociological change) and leads to all the things we see around us from electronics to arts.

The things that we say we humans have designed, in absence of free will, might actually be a natural consequence of physics as well. Before we discovered the laws of physics, we believed life too is “designed”, didn’t we?

With randomness and time, and the physical laws favoring complexity and fitness (survival of fittest) in non biological matter (just like they do with biology in the evolution of life) just as well (coz physics is the same for all matter be it biological or not) its easy to see the complexity of society and electronics and systems that we have today.

Moreover, wars etc. can be attributed again to physical (environmental) changes and biology adapting to those changes, just like life adapted to environmental changes over and over in the course of evolution.

The final “But Why”

If you try to play the “But Why” game where one person answers everything with “But Why” eg. It’s raining. “But Why”  Coz water vapor in clouds crossed equilibrium. “But Why” …..(after explaining why elements exist and going all the way back to the big bang)…”But Why”. Coz there is something rather than nothing and that something is a quantum graph whose behavior/existance can be explained by the laws of physics. “But Why?” Coz what exists exists and what doesn’t doesn’t