Dear Srinandan,

He relation of geometry to information theory (and also of particle theory in 
the Standard Theory) is by way of group theory. Groups describe symmetries, 
which are reversible. What is left over are the asymmetries, which are the 
differences that can be identified as information. This is worked out in some 
detail by my former student, Scott Muller, in Asymmetry: The Foundation of 
Information. Springer: Berlin. 2007. Seth Lloyd relates the information concept 
to quantum mechanics via group theory and other means in his Programming the 
Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos. More direct 
connections can be made via the entropy concept where the information is the 
difference between the entropy of a system and its entropy with all internal 
constraints relaxed, but it comes to the same thing in the end. There are 
several convergent ways to relate information to form, then, in contemporary 
physics. But basically it is in the asymmetries.

As far as the relation between the asymmetries and symmetries go, I think this 
is still a bit open, since the symmetries represent the laws. Some physicists 
like Paul Davies talk as if the symmetries add nothing once you have all the 
asymmetries, so the laws are a result of information as well. I don’t see 
through this adequately myself as yet, though.


From: Srinandan Dasmahapatra []
Sent: May 26, 2015 10:20 PM
To:; John Collier
Cc: fis
Subject: Re: [Fis] It From Bit video

Re: boundary conditions, etc.

I struggle to understand many/most of the posts on this list, and the 
references to boundary conditions, geometry and information leave me quite 
befuddled as well. Is it being claimed that geometry the same as information? 
That the requirement of predictions makes the focus on physical laws irrelevant 
unless the boundary conditions are specified? Or even that the continuum is at 
odds with the speed of light, considering classical electromagnetism is a 
well-defined continuum field theory. As for galactic distances, the only 
scientific basis upon which we conceive of the large scale structure of the 
universe is via the field equations of gravity, which brings a coherent package 
of causal thinking built into it. I did understand the bit on Noether, as 
energy conservation is indeed a consequence of time translation invariance, but 
that comes embedded in a continuum description, typically.

In biological systems, energy input makes the picture specific to the system 
one cordons off for study, and often it is hard to adequately describe 
phenomena by scalar potentials alone due to the currents in the system. And 
Noether cannot deliver reversibility.

To me the message of Sean Carroll in the YouTube video that an equivalent 
redescription of physics (or biology) in terms of information is not enough, 
strikes me as sane.


-------- Original message --------
From: "Robert E. Ulanowicz"
Date:26/05/2015 16:16 (GMT+00:00)
To: John Collier
Cc: fis
Subject: Re: [Fis] It From Bit video

I would like to strongly reinforce John's comments about boundary
conditions. We tend to obsess over the laws and ignore the boundary
statements. (Sort of a shell game, IMHO.) If boundary conditions cannot be
stated in closed form, the physical problem remains indeterminate! (The
aphorism from computer science, "Garbage in, garbage out!" is appropriate
to reversible laws as well.)

Then there is the issue of the continuum assumption, which was the work of
Euler and Leibniz, not Newton. Newton argued vociferously against it,
because it equated cause with effect. The assumption works quite well,
however, whenever cause and effect are almost simultaneous, as with a
force impacting an object, where the force is transmitted over small
distances at the speed of light. It doesn't work as well when large
velocities are at play (relativity) or very small distances and times
(quantum phenomena) -- whence the need arose to develop the "exceptional"
sciences, thermodynamics, relativity and quantum physics.

I would suggest it doesn't work well at very large distances, either.
Consider galaxies, which are on the order of 100,000 or more light years
in diameter. (I was surprised to learn recently that we really don't have
decent models for the dynamics of galaxies.) Gravitational effects are
relatively slow to traverse those distances, so that cause and effect are
not immediate. (Sorry, I don't think quantum entanglement is going to
solve this conundrum.) If cause and effect are widely separated, then the
continuum assumption becomes questionable and by implication,
reversibility as well. Now Noether demonstrated that reversibility and
conservation are two sides of the same coin. So I see it as no great
mystery that we encounter problems with conservation of matter and energy
at galactic scales or higher -- witness "dark" matter and "dark" energy.

Of course, I am neither a particle physicist nor an astrophysicist, but
merely someone writing from my armchair. So I invite anyone on FIS to put
me straight as regards my speculations on these issues.

Bob U.

> Interesting question, Ken. I was not overly impressed with the video
> because it didn’t explain one of the most crucial points about the use
> of information in dealing with quantum gravity, for which we as yet have
> no good theory. The issue with both black holes and the origin of the
> universe process is that the boundary conditions are dynamical. You can
> have as many laws as you could want and still not have a physics if the
> boundary conditions are ignored. Usually they are added in as an initial
> state, or sometimes ad hoc but when they are changing, especially if they
> are mathematically inseparable from the laws, there is a problem with
> relying on the laws alone to explain. With black holes there is a question
> of whether or not information disappears at their event horizon. There is
> a similar issue for the observable portion of the universe at any given
> time. It is hard to see how the questions can even be posed without
> referring to information. Any boundary in basic physics can be conceived
> the same way, and if all masses and energies come from geometry (in a
> Unified Theory) then information is all there is in basic physics.
> I have argued for some time now that biological systems are much more
> defined by their boundary conditions, which are typically dynamical and
> changing, than by their energy flows, so information flows dominate,
> though energy flows place limits, so I have talked of the information and
> energy budgets being partially decoupled in biological systems. So
> information is important to biology because understanding its flow can
> answer questions about dynamical boundaries, just like in basic physics.
> The energy (and matter) flows I will leave to the biophysicists, but the
> paragraph above suggests that these are information flows as well. I like
> the potential for unification here.
> Cheers,
> John
> From: Fis [] On Behalf Of Ken Herold
> Sent: May 26, 2015 12:30 AM
> To: fis
> Subject: [Fis] It From Bit video
> Released recently--what about the biological?
> --
> Ken
> _______________________________________________
> Fis mailing list

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