Dear Mark and Colleagues,

Very nice “simple question”:  “Is information physical?”

I agree that “letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical objects 
are only carriers of information”.

The brain is carrier of information, too. 

Now, I think, what we need to clear is another “simple question” closely 
interrelated to yours:

Does the information exist without the carrier?

In other words, can the color, speed, weigh, temperature, time, etc., exist 
without objects which these characteristics belong to and may be measured by 
other objects. 

To understand more clearly, let see the case of “time”.

Does the time really exist?

Does the time exist without real regular processes which we may reflect and 

The time is falling drops of water, the movement of the pendulum, etc.

One may say, the time is information about all these processes.

OK! But, if these processes do not exist, will we have “time”?

I think, we have a question in two interrelated explanations: 

- Is information physical?

- Does the information exist without the carrier?

Friendly greetings


From: Burgin, Mark 
the movement of the pendulum

falling drops of water

Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 4:47 AM
Subject: Re: [Fis] Is information physical?

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to suggest the new topic for discussion

                                      Is information physical?

My opinion is presented below:

   Why some people erroneously think that information is physical


   The main reason to think that information is physical is the strong belief 
of many people, especially, scientists that there is only physical reality, 
which is studied by science. At the same time, people encounter something that 
they call information.

   When people receive a letter, they comprehend that it is information because 
with the letter they receive information. The letter is physical, i.e., a 
physical object. As a result, people start thinking that information is 
physical. When people receive an e-mail, they comprehend that it is information 
because with the e-mail they receive information. The e-mail comes to the 
computer in the form of electromagnetic waves, which are physical. As a result, 
people start thinking even more that information is physical.

   However, letters, electromagnetic waves and actually all physical objects 
are only carriers or containers of information.

   To understand this better, let us consider a textbook. Is possible to say 
that this book is knowledge? Any reasonable person will tell that the textbook 
contains knowledge but is not knowledge itself. In the same way, the textbook 
contains information but is not information itself. The same is true for 
letters, e-mails, electromagnetic waves and other physical objects because all 
of them only contain information but are not information. For instance, as we 
know, different letters can contain the same information. Even if we make an 
identical copy of a letter or any other text, then the letter and its copy will 
be different physical objects (physical things) but they will contain the same 

   Information belongs to a different (non-physical) world of knowledge, data 
and similar essences. In spite of this, information can act on physical objects 
(physical bodies) and this action also misleads people who think that 
information is physical.

   One more misleading property of information is that people can measure it. 
This brings an erroneous assumption that it is possible to measure only 
physical essences. Naturally, this brings people to the erroneous conclusion 
that information is physical. However, measuring information is essentially 
different than measuring physical quantities, i.e., weight. There are no 
“scales” that measure information. Only human intellect can do this.

   It is possible to find more explanations that information is not physical in 
the general theory of information. 

Mark Burgin

On 4/24/2018 10:46 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan wrote:

  Dear FIS Colleagues,

  A very interesting discussion theme has been proposed by Mark Burgin --he 
will post at his early convenience. 
  Thanks are due to Alberto for his "dataism" piece. Quite probably we will 
need to revisit that theme, as it is gaining increasing momentum in present 
"information societies", in science as well as in everyday life...
  Thanks also to Sung for his interesting viewpoint and references.

  Best wishes to all,

Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
       Libre de virus.  


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