At 02:05 PM 1/24/2011, Loet Leydesdorff wrote:
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Dear colleagues,
It seems to me that the relation between information and energy provides the special case that the entropy is thermodynamic entropy. The relation is S = k(B) H. H is dimensionless, but S is not because k(B) adds the dimensionality of Joule/Kelvin. H can also be considered as probabilistic entropy. S is relevant in the case that the system of reference is the chemico-physical one based on collisions among particles. This level – the exchange of momenta and energy – is always involved in higher-order exchange processes, but the next-order ones emerge on top of the lower-order ones.

I think that joules are energy, and temperature is energy per degrees of freedom. If you cancel out the energy part you get degrees of freedom, which is dimensionless (a number), and is also a good measure for things like information in physical terms. So I don't see a problem. W

For example, when specifically molecules are exchanged, life can emerge (Maturana). The self-organization may also reduce the uncertainty locally (“negentropy”). The system of reference, however, then is different from the chemico-physical one. The information exchange is provided with meaning.

Only because it is interpreted (biosemiotics).

Things change dramatically when meaning can again be communicated because then models can be entertained at a more rapid speed than the underlying (that is, modeled) systems. The redundancy generation can then prevail over the entropy generation and a knowledge-based economy, for example, maintained. The discursive models proliferate options other than the ones which occurred historically. This cultural system incurs on the historical manifestations and thus counteracts upon their following of the entropy law. The social system, for example, can be based on other premises than the lower-order ones. For example, the “survival of the fittest” can be replaced by universal human rights.
In other words: the specification of the system of reference provides the information exchanges with meaning.


This meaning can again be communicated reflexively in the respective disciplines. The systems can be expected to gain in their capacity to process complexity insofar as these different layers become more nearly decomposable. This expansion spans the different dimensionalities and thus can be expected to enlarge the space for knowledge-based interventions.

Dimensionalities add degrees of freedom, and thus information capacity. So information capacity can emerge (or even be created) by the sort of process you mention. It is all physically grounded, though.

One more thing:

GR: That's thermodynamically impossible. Any organic system requires to convert and transduce energy so you may think it does no work but the relationship is like Ostwald's Ripening there is always an energy cost

Sorry Gavin, but you are mistaken. The entropy budget is made at the expense of information loss in these cases.

Incidentally, you are posting too often. The rules say two a week. This allows people to check sources, etc. Google is good, plus archives of the fis list.

Schroedinger, What is Life? (1945). The connection is via negentropy, and then to biological information in the DNA (he called it a nonperiodic crystal).

The  1929 Szillard, SZILARD L., Z. Phys., 53 (1929) 840-856, paper is in German. An English translation can be found in Leff and Rex, Maxwell's Demon (1990, Princeton University Press). It is generally regarded as the first explicit connection between information and physics.


Professor John Collier, Acting HoS  and Acting Deputy HoS
Philosophy and Ethics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041 South Africa
T: +27 (31) 260 3248 / 260 2292       F: +27 (31) 260 3031
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