Dear John,

Sorry you have been ill. 

I agree fully with your statement: All of these explanations, and even stating 
the problem, require information notions, not just energy as in classical 

What I object to are statements or implications that information, whether in 
boundaries or not, is ontologically prior to and/or independent of energy. This 
is how the positions of people like Lloyd and Tegmark come out, giving 
'computation' an agential, anthropomorphically flavored role at the ground of 
the universe. The establishment by Wu Kun and others of information as a 
category implies separation only in classical logic and category theory, which 
are just as limiting as the classical physics John refers to.

A basic problem is the inability of people to keep in mind the operation of two 
aspects of phenomena, cooperative and antagonistic, at the same time. Computers 
work according to algorithms. The ground of the universe, in my view, is in the 
tension, not the separation, between being and non-being, and no algorithm can 
handle that (now who is being anthropomorphic?!)


----- Original Message ----- 
From: John Collier 
To: fis 
Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2016 4:58 PM
Subject: [Fis] Information Conservation in black holes



Sorry I haven’t been able to respond to the interesting remarks on my last 
post, but it took a while to digest them, and my current health concerns take 
up a lot of my time, so I haven’t had time to come up with responses that are 
properly thought out.


In the meantime, here is an interesting Nature news report about Hawking’s (and 
Strominger’s) recent proposal for how information can be preserved in black 
holes (which his 1976 paper set up as a problem for the laws of physics, which 
imply information conservation at the most basic level. The solution involves a 
way empty space can carry information in QM via “soft particles”. The answer is 
apparently not completely worked out as yet, and there are critics.


Seth Lloyd described a different possible explanation in his book Programming 
the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos, Knopf (2000) 
that involves taking into consideration the information in boundaries, which I 
found plausible, since the information preservation in physics follows from 
consideration of basic laws together with the constraints of boundary 
conditions, neither alone.


Perhaps the two approaches are not really distinct. They may eventually cast 
light on each other. For the time being the Hawking/Strominger proposal also 
looks like it can solve the “firewall” problem as well, which has the Black 
Hole boundary being very hot (again, contrary to physical expectations), 
because information can be transferred into radiation instead of energy, so the 
information transfer doesn’t require a high temperature at the black hole 
boundary, unlike other forms of radiation production.  All of these 
explanations, and even stating the problem, require information notions, not 
just energy as in classical physics.


John Collier

Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Associate

University of KwaZulu-Natal



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