Sunday, 2 November 2008

Message and matter

It is important to understand the fundamental difference between these 2 concepts. Matter is all around us. Everything physical in the universe is matter or energy and Einstein showed us that they are essentially interchangeable, at least in essence if not always in practice. The stars, the earth, the moon. All the objects on the earth, both animate and inanimate. All are material. Composed of atoms and/ or photons.

As such they obey the laws of physics. Mass attracts, objects fall, momentum and energy are conserved, and entropy increases. They all obey the laws of chemistry which at a foundational level are laws of physics for elements. Why the chemistry laws should be as they are, ie. could the elements theoretically be different, is a different question.

None of this is too complex to understand, neither is it modern. While the ancients may not have understood the scientific laws in such detail, the concept of the material was well understood. And the material was often distinguished from the spiritual.

What I think it very important to comprehend is that information is utterly distinct from matter and not reliant on it. It exists independent of matter and there is no reason to think it could not exist even if matter itself did not. Though the existence of matter without information is unlikely to be possible.

Information or intelligence is difficult to quantify, though it can be done. Information is frequently stored in matter but it is in no way dependant on the matter in which it is stored. This post as you read it is stored magnetically on your hard-drive, having been copied from a server elsewhere. However it could be printed and stored in toner on paper. Or you could memorise it and it would be stored in your neurons. But the message is not derived nor is dependant on magnetism, paper, ink or anything else composed of matter.

This concept is fundamental. And it has significant implications.
  1. It means that the 2 (message and matter) are to be distinguished from each other, something that may not be done in defending various theories.
  2. They are not derived from each other. Information cannot make material and material cannot make information.
  3. We need a source for both matter and information.
  4. The laws that govern information are not those that govern matter. Information does not obey the law of gravity, it does not contain momentum, it cannot be transformed to energy.
Expanding on item 2: One might argue that a powerful source of information can create matter, but this is a being, not just an idea.

Information that appears to arise from matter is merely the level of information that already exists in the matter, it is not created by the matter. The limited information to describe a crystal structure is intrinsic to the information already contained within the physics and chemistry of the molecules.

Note that the crystal structure of salt is low information content and no more than can be known from our (potential) understanding of sodium, chloride, solutions and temperature. However deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has information that is imposed on it which is not intrinsic to nucleic acids, sugar bases, or phosphate. One can transcribe the code onto a computer or paper and the code remains intact.

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