Add this Tag for questions on information theory applied to physics, especially in the fields of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, the black hole information paradox, complexity of dynamical and physical systems and questions to do with whether information is conserved by physical systems. ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

79
votes
1answer
3k views

Is it necessary to consume energy to perform computation?

As far as I know, today most of the computers are made from semiconductor devices, so the energy consumed all turns into the heat emitted into space. But I wonder, is it necessary to consume energy ...
45
votes
5answers
2k views

What is information?

We're all familiar with basic tenets such as "information cannot be transmitted faster than light" and ideas such as information conservation in scenarios like Hawking radiation (and in general, ...
32
votes
6answers
3k views

Why is information indestructible?

I really can't understand what Leonard Susskind means when he says that information is indestructible. Is that information that is lost, through the increase of entropy really recoverable? He ...
31
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the most efficient information storage?

What is the most efficient way to store data that is currently hypothesized? Is it theoretically possible to store more than one bit per atom? Until Floris' comment, I hadn't considered that ...
29
votes
3answers
15k views

Maximum theoretical data density

Our ability to store data on or in physical media continues to grow, with the maximum amount a data you can store in a given volume increasing exponentially from year to year. Storage devices continue ...
28
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do computers generate heat?

Computers generate heat when they work. Is it a result of information processing or friction (resistance)? Are these just different ways to describe the same thing? Or does some definite part of the ...
22
votes
3answers
279 views

Does entropy measure extractable work?

Entropy has two definitions, which come from two different branches of science: thermodynamics and information theory. Yet, they both are thought to agree. Is it true? Entropy, as seen from ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

Where does deleted information go?

I've heard that, in classical and quantum mechanics, the law of conservation of information holds. I always wonder where my deleted files and folders have gone on my computer. It must be somewhere I ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

What do physicists mean by “information”?

On the question why certain velocities (i.e. phase velocity) can be greater than the speed of light, people will say something like: since no matter or "information" is transferred, therefore the ...
14
votes
1answer
438 views

In there such a thing as the Black Hole Information Paradox?

When I first heard about the black hole information paradox, I thought it had no content. At the time, papers about it had been written for numerous years and they keep on coming. Now that the press ...
12
votes
4answers
943 views

Ignorance in statistical mechanics

Consider this penny on my desc. It is a particular piece of metal, well described by statistical mechanics, which assigns to it a state, namely the density matrix $\rho_0=\frac{1}{Z}e^{-\beta H}$ ...
11
votes
1answer
412 views

How many bits are encoded on the surface of the smallest black hole?

Here's my guess ($157\, \textrm{bits}$) and how I got there. Please feel free to disregard completely and give your own answer. My understanding (please correct any wrong assumptions as there may be ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

How efficient is a desktop computer?

As I understand it (and admittedly it's a weak grasp), a computer processes information irreversibly (AND gates, for example), and therefore has some minimum entropy increase associated with its ...
10
votes
2answers
10k views

Maximum theoretical bandwidth of fibre-optics

Ignoring hardware at either end and their technological limitations, what is the maximum theoretical bandwidth of fibre optic cables currently in use / being deployed in a FTTH type situations? I ...
10
votes
2answers
290 views

Would the horizon of a black hole be different for a tachyon than for subluminal matter or photons?

One of the most useful black hole analogies I've seen imagines that space is "flowing" like a river into a black hole, and the point at which it flows in faster than c is the horizon. This analogy ...
9
votes
3answers
871 views

Are Electromagnetic Waves The Only Means of Transmitting Information?

We've been using EMF to transmit energy (information) for over a century. I was wondering is there any other way to send a message on long distances, even faster than EMF waves can travel? For example ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How are physics and computer science getting united?

How is theoretical computer science getting united with physics? Phenomena like Quantum Computing uses Quantum Mechanics to be able to compute things, how are computers helping not just to model our ...
8
votes
7answers
9k views

Why is the decibel scale logarithmic?

Could someone explain in simple terms (let's say, limited to a high school calculus vocabulary) why decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale? (This isn't homework, just good old fashioned ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

How is thermodynamic entropy defined? What is its relationship to information entropy?

I read that thermodynamic entropy is a measure of the number of microenergy states. What is the derivation for $S=k\log N$, where $k$ is Boltzmann constant, $N$ number of microenergy states. How is ...
8
votes
2answers
238 views

Information Preservation and Burning Books

I recently read an article in the NY Times called A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox. I really liked the article, but reading one quote immediately made me think of asking Physics.SE a ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Maxwell's Demon Constant (Information-Energy equivalence)

New Scientist article: Summon a 'demon' to turn information into energy The speed of light c converts between space and time and also appears in e=mc^2. Maxwell's Demon can turn information supplied ...
8
votes
2answers
524 views

Black hole complementarity - absorption of Hawking radiation

I try to understand two principles formulated by Leonard Susskind in his book The Black Hole War: 1, To any observer who remains outside a black hole, the stretched horizon appears to be a hot layer ...
8
votes
1answer
468 views

How is information defined from a thermodynamics point of view?

How is information defined from a thermodynamics point of view ? I came across some definitions using the concept of free energy of a system. If I have information stored in a finite volume of space ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How many bytes can the observable universe store?

Is the number of states in the Universe countable? What framework could be used to answer the question in the title?
7
votes
2answers
118 views

Could you theoretically map the internal distribution of mass in a black hole using Hawking radiation?

Assuming you could measure the qualities of the radiation emanating from all around a black hole, could this be used to determine the internal geometry or makeup of the mass inside?
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Exorcism of Maxwell's Demon

I am possessed! Yes, with the thinking that if there is actually a Maxwell's Demon, then it would open the negligible weighted door which would ultimately make the second law invalid. But really can ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How is information related to energy in physics?

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Ravi Gomatam on 'quantum reality', where the speaker suggested, that conservation of energy is not a fundamental law, and is conditional, but the conservation of ...
6
votes
3answers
458 views

Confusion regarding entropy, reference papers request

1.a In paragraph at Wikipedia/Entropy it is stated: This is because energy supplied at a high temperature (i.e. with low entropy) tends to be more useful than the same amount of energy ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the real-world significance of the Bekenstein bound?

The Bekenstein bound sets the maximum amount of information that can be contained in a region of space/energy, and is usually referred to in the same way as computer storage density: For example, ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the relationship between Energy, Entropy, and Information?

What is the relationship between Energy, Entropy, and Information? I read this - What Is Energy? Where did it come from? - and the top answer says that 'energy' is an abstract number that is a ...
6
votes
1answer
326 views

What is the information geometry of 1D Ising model for a complex magnetic field?

Consider the one-dimensional Ising model with constant magnetic field and node-dependent interaction on a finite lattice, given by $$H(\sigma) = -\sum_{i = 1}^N J_i\sigma_i\sigma_{i + 1} - h\sum_{i = ...
6
votes
1answer
336 views

How does Landauer's Principle apply in quantum (and generally reversible) computing

I understand that a reversible computer does not dissipate heat through the Landauer's principle whilst running - the memory state at all times is a bijective function of the state at any other time. ...
6
votes
0answers
193 views

Estimating the Kolmogorov Complexity of the Standard Model

The Kolmogorov complexity of a hypothesis / theory / model is the shortest computer program that simulates it, regardless of how inefficient executing that program may be in terms of memory and time. ...
5
votes
4answers
693 views

Uncertainty Principle for Information?

I'm not familiar (yet) on how Information theory can be emerged/used in QM/QFT but I was thinking about this question: While we have Heisenberg uncertainty principle on measuring coupled observables, ...
5
votes
3answers
238 views

Does unitarity imply conservation of energy?

Not too long ago, someone began to discuss the thinking and motivation behind the Lagrangian and its formalism for the Newtonian framework and an intuitive understanding of such formalism. Somehow, it ...
5
votes
2answers
253 views

Why isn't data lost when sent over large distances?

I was thinking about how information is sent, for example through the atmosphere. There are plenty of obstacles, as well diffraction, etc. Still, no information is lost. How is information sent to ...
5
votes
3answers
322 views

Information loss in a black hole

How does the Holographic Principle help to establish the fact that all the information is not lost in a black hole?
5
votes
1answer
712 views

Is there really time reversibility in physics?

First, how i got to the question. I was randomly looking at this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langton%27s_ant describing some sort of cellular automaton. Here is the path of this automaton ...
5
votes
2answers
110 views

Bekenstein bound for electron?

Using the Wikipedia version of the Bekenstein bound, and substituting the Wikipedia values for electron mass and radius, one obtains 0.0662 bits. Does this really mean that a system, any system, ...
5
votes
2answers
111 views

How can the microstates be measured with zero energy expenditure?

James P. Sethna. Statistical Mechanics. Exercise 5.2: What prevents a Maxwellian demon from using an atom in an unknown state to extract work? The demon must first measure which side of the ...
5
votes
2answers
150 views

Proof of conservation of information [duplicate]

After listening of some lectures of Leonard Susskind about black holes, he mentioned that conservation of information is one of the foundations of physics. After searching the web I cannot seem to ...
5
votes
2answers
231 views

Information Loss in annihilation

The concept of information loss is usually discussed with respect to a black hole. My understanding is that whatever matter you put into the black hole, it has only 3 "hairs" and so one doesn't know, ...
5
votes
1answer
527 views

Why isn't black hole information loss this easy (am I missing something basic)?

Ok, so on Science channel was a special about Hawking/Susskind debating black holes, which can somehow remove information from the universe. A) In stars, fusion converts 4 hydrogen into 1 helium, ...
5
votes
2answers
234 views

What reflective media do laser shows use?

I am having a hard time in finding out what exact light media laser shows use. I am trying to build a laser show myself. I know that the laser light is reflected off these particles in such a way that ...
4
votes
2answers
219 views

Is this theory about Universe and information true?

I recently saw this video about information and randomness. At some point, it states that a completely predictable universe would infringe the second law of thermodynamics, because it would imply that ...
4
votes
3answers
318 views

Entropy and Information

Several posts and my classes in thermodynamics equate increase in entropy with loss of information. Shannon clearly showed that the information content of a message is zero when its entropy is zero ...
4
votes
2answers
274 views

Entropy: two explanations for the same quantity?

I studied thermodynamics and I saw the following definition for entropy: $$ \Delta S = \int_1^2 \frac{\text{d}Q}{T} $$ that we use to calculate $\Delta S$ for different types of transformations. In ...
4
votes
2answers
297 views

What is the mechanism for fast scrambling of information by black holes?

Sekino and Susskind have argued that black holes scramble information faster than any quantum field theory in this paper. What is the mechanism for such scrambling?
4
votes
0answers
162 views

No hair theorem and black hole entropy

The no hair theorem says that black holes rapidly converge to a state that is completely described just by their mass, spin and charge. Black hole thermodynamics says that the black hole entropy is ...
4
votes
2answers
160 views

Knotted token-ring network

Suppose we have a rigid token-ring network. An observer at any node can seemingly determine the angular momentum of the network by measuring the time it takes for a packet to travel around the ring ...