As my humble understandings of science are concerned, there are a few principles that are under debate, one of which is the question about the permanence of information in the universe. People like Stephen Hawking have suggested that information is destroyed when it enters a black hole, while others suggest that the information still exists either as radiation or inside the black hole even though we cannot access it. I believe one problem separating the sides of this debate arise from the misunderstanding of what is information.
I think the idea is this. Place a TV in an empty room and turn it on. The light rays flowing from that TV screen will shine and be reflected off the wall opposite the TV. If a person were to look at that wall, that light would not make much sense except perhaps to show if the program was well lit or rather dark. It is theorized that it should be possible to take in all the information from the reflected light and accurately recreate what was shown on the TV.
All that reflected and refracted light carries information, and it should be possible to gather and interpret that information and use it. This is one way to explain our understanding of information. All happenings create information that move into the universe, and even though that energy affects other things in the universe, that information is still there and with a powerful enough tool it could all be deciphered.
However, there is a problem with this definition of information that can get a little nausea inducing to explain. It assumes information is simply the reactions of mass to other mass. But perhaps information is something much more complex.
Let’s shift to billiards. If you shoot a cue ball at the 8-ball, the 8-ball will move across the table with a certain speed, direction, and with spin. It should be possible to analyze just the 8-ball’s movements to be able to gather enough information about how the cue ball was struck, from what angle and with what force, so much so that even some information about the person wielding the pool stick could be deduced. All of this is information that is sent out into the universe, including the reverberations of the sound waves from the balls striking one another, how the bar light reflects off the table, and the creaking of the floorboards as the players circle one another while leaving condensation-rings on the tables from their cold bottles of beer in a muggy and crowded bar.
Now, imagine placing three billiard balls in a row. We’ll number these 7, 8, & 9. If you shoot the cue ball at the 9-ball, the energy from that initial collision will transfer through the middle 8-ball without moving the 8-ball, and the 7-ball at the far end will then be propelled forward. Even though our eyes are incapable of viewing the energy transferring through that center 8-ball, energy most certainly did transfer through it, and if you used very fine measuring tools you could detect how and when that energy was transferred.
This is the essence of information as we understand it up until this point in history. It is the atheist’s support: we are all just matter that is reacting to matter, our consciousness is nothing more than a response to stimuli that we are most fortunate to experience by pure accident.
This is also the scientific understanding of information (in a general sense). However, what if there is a different type of information?
This morning I read an interesting abstract about using lasers measuring one trillionth of a second. I certainly do not understand much of what is taking place in this abstract, but to get my head around the experiment I returned to the same billiards example used above, but I had to make a change to allow it to work for my mind.
Instead, I imagined the same three balls (7, 8, & 9) set up next to each other, however, when the cue ball hits the 9-ball something different happens. The center ball never feels nor transfers the energy from that strike, and yet the last ball does react. However, and this is important, when the 7-ball reacts, I suggest that it doesn’t just shoot out, it becomes the 9-ball!
Somehow, on the level of physics taking place on the ultra-small and ultra-fast, actual information is transferred, mass is altered.
This is huge because, if true, it pulls apart our understanding of information as simply being mass reacting to mass. Instead it indicates that mass can change in order to carry information, that the very state of an object, and not just its place in the universe, can be altered. It certainly does begin to explain the seemingly supernatural – in that information could be transferred through electrons at least, not just the order of the electrons being sent, which means much more might be happening than we are aware.
Before we can get back to the question about whether a black hole can destroy information, we should first consider this next question: When an electron exchanges information, in the manner hinted at in the abstract, is that transfer digital or is it analog? If it is digital it is an exact replica. If it is analog, that means matter can shift and change over time. When information shifts and changes overtime at the very smallest parts of the universe, then the very laws of nature become malleable.
Probably it is analog. I really like that idea, but the forces required to change the laws of nature would have to be both powerful and act ‘slowly’ across space to be able to alter what already is in place, forces in motion and all that. And there are also the implications about entropy that would require further examination, such as;
Does information absorb energy
Does information hold energy potential
When information is altered is there an expending of energy
When information slows down is it lost
(does an electron die)
Are electrons commutable (well, of course they are, that was dumb)
I guess there is a ton of stuff I don’t know, people don’t have a better way to learn these things.