Which one is the most fundamental of the universe? What it is made of?

Physicists are searching for unique and fundamental form. The question is , information is more fundamental than energy ?

According to the thermodynamic Physics information is any kind of event that affects the state of a dynamic system that can interpret the information.

But as far as I know its a bit of energy as I heard from the Physicist Lineard Susskind's Lectures.

Will you please clarify according to the article ?

Actually I was confused reading the head line article.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/physics/2014/04/is-information-fundamental/

I want to know that why are they referring the information as fundamental unity? Isn't it that Information is a mathematical concept or its a bit of energy i mean quantized energy?

  • $\begingroup$ To make this a meaningful question for this site, you'd need to summarize that article here I think. Seems to be interesting! $\endgroup$ May 1, 2014 at 0:25

2 Answers 2


A book is full of information. Information does not create a book to be written in.

I think this summarizes my point of view.

If nobody ever thought of information carried on physical quantities, the physical measurable quantities would still exist. Information is a meta level to energy distributions and quantum mechanical systems.

In a sense to even think that information can be fundamental one has to believe in the platonic view, that the mathematics exists and that is the reason why physical measurable quantities like energy exist, to fulfill the mathematics. In such a point of view, information is given the same status as mathematical formulations and the question can arise.

Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.

As an experimentalist I hold the view that data/reality exists, can be described by mathematical formulations + postulates that interpret the mathematics. Information is an interpretation of data so it is together with mathematics a meta level on the physical observations.

We otherwise enter the realm of philosophy and not physics.

  • $\begingroup$ if everything can be explained in terms of energy then then why the article mentioned is telling that information can be a fundamental form?? I understand that information is physical system system and can be explained mathematically. But once i heard from Lineard susskinds lecture and he said that the information is a bit of energy. if there is no existence of information bcz its a mathematical concept then why it should be a fundamental quantity? please see the article I mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – zero_field
    May 4, 2014 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ although I kinda agree with you, calling attention to Data does not quite address the point: Data is merely information ... so if all we ever deal with or know is Data, we would never know anything about what the Data is about, except what the Data says, and the "Physics is information" people are happy with what the Data says, since Data is information.... So I have tried to frame an answer which poses the two alternatives more sharply, so that neither side can possibly be happy with the rival side. $\endgroup$ May 31, 2014 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ +1 For Plato reference. @zero_field, Roger Penrose in his "Road to Reality" gives a rather good summary of Plato's take on things in the first chapter (or preface), and his own (Penrose's) personal relationship with these ideas. Otherwise it is hard to beat the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosphy's Summary. As Holly from Red Dwarf notes, Plato was famous for inventing the Plate and other eating utensils. $\endgroup$ May 31, 2014 at 5:16

Well, I looked at the article, typical popularising.....

The article's main point seems to be borrowed from Quantum Information Theory (QIT) perspectives.

There are indeed some physicists who are arguing in favour of a fundamental change of physics point of view, towards viewing information, i.e., codings and the bits that they code, as fundamental, rather than matter (which, in relativity, is equivalent to energy, so let's just say matter...). I am not one of them, but I am going to be fair here.

There is a divide within Quantum Mechanics, over how to interpret the wave function. Is it something like a matter wave, or is it a probability wave. Is it real, physical, or does it merely encode what we (or an abstract entity) can know about a system? Now, QIT people tend to take the latter view, whereas Quantum Optics people tend to take the former view. It is widely accepted that there are serious problems with trying to interpret the wave function as something real. Many physicists believe these problems will eventually be solved, but one can sympathise with the point of view that says that if they haven't been solved so far, it is because there is something wrong with viewing the wave function as anything other than knowledge, information. ----Now, Quantum Mechanics is the most fundamental theory we have, and these problems go right to the bottom of Physics. So if the most natural way to think of the wave function is as subjective information, why not be consistent and say that subjective information is the fundamental thing of Physics?

This divide parallels another divide: the divide between those who take the relatively old-fashioned, orthodox view of Dirac, say, that in the real world, every system is in a pure state and that therefore it is described by a wave function, and hence mixed states are merely useful calculating tools for when we are ignorant or do not care about which pure state precisely the system is in, (also, mixed states are useful when discussing open systems). This goes in Quantum Optics. But in QIT and with more and more physicists, the view is that it is necessary to change the axioms of Quantum Mechanics, and say that a system, even if isolated, really can be in a mixed state.

This divide also parallels the two rival approaches to probability: is probability something physical, something really there, objective---or is it merely an expression of our knowledge (this is the Bayesian view). It is widely agreed that it is very difficult to make sense of probability as something real. But most physicists like myself on the first side of the divide are equally uncomfortable with making probability and the wave function "subjective". A good intro and overview to the Bayesian point of view is math.ucr.edu/home/baez/bayes.html by a very respectable mathematical physicist, Prof. Baez.

So the "glamorous revolutionaries" out to push information as the real stuff of the Universe are taking this "subjective" aspect quite seriously and saying that, it is so far from being the case that making wave functions pieces of information and subjective takes us away from physical reality, it is rather the case that information (seeminly subjective in past philosophies of Physics) really is the basic stuff of the Universe, and matter is merely an approximation. I don't believe this for a minute. But respectable QIT people such as Lucien Hardy have even been able to re-formulate all of normal Quantum Mechanics in terms of very different axioms, all described in terms of information. And they get the same experimental consequences...

So, short answer: Quantum mechanics makes matter seem very mysterious, and places probabilities at the center of Physics and the notion of objective physical probabiliy also seems very difficult, so these glam revos are trying to find an alternative which will not seem so mysterious.

  • $\begingroup$ My proposed explanation of how probability is something physical, objective, is published at rev-inv-ope.univ-paris1.fr/IMG/pdf_35214-09.pdf and arxiv, at arxiv.org/abs/1404.7817 , for what it is worth. $\endgroup$ May 31, 2014 at 5:00

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