Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What Is the Moral, for the Law of Evidence, of "It from Bit"?

Dennis Overbye, Quantum Trickery: Testing Einstein's Strangest Theory, NY Times Online (Dec. 27, 2005):
In an essay recently in Nature, Dr. [Anton] Zeilinger sought to find meaning in the very randomness that plagued Einstein.

"The discovery that individual events are irreducibly random is probably one of the most significant findings of the 20th century," Dr. Zeilinger wrote.

Dr. Zeilinger suggested that reality and information are, in a deep sense, indistinguishable, a concept that Dr. Wheeler, the Princeton physicist, called "it from bit."

In information, the basic unit is the bit, but one bit, he says, is not enough to specify both the spin and the trajectory of a particle. So one quality remains unknown, irreducibly random.

As a result of the finiteness of information, he explained, the universe is fundamentally unpredictable.

"I suggest that this randomness of the individual event is the strongest indication we have of a reality 'out there' existing independently of us," Dr. Zeilinger wrote in Nature.

He added, "Maybe Einstein would have liked this idea after all."

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