Sunday, December 2, 2007

Potential when considered as Information

I have recently had some exchanges with a physicist about the misunderstandings of Bell’s ideas within the physics community in general. In thinking about this my mind wandered back to a proposal he made about a year ago. That proposition was the elevation of “potential” as a “beable” ("The beables of the theory are those elements which might correspond to elements of reality, to things which exist. Their existence does not depend on 'observation'). That is, would it be of any use to give it status above that of being merely considered as a linking element within physical description? Then I thought how one could conceptualize potential, as say potential energy like in electric or gravitational potential as being an actual aspect of reality.

One way to do this is to consider potential as being effected by change, at the fundamental level. Now as we know, entropy in terms of its action is one of the most rudimentary concepts in all physical theory when considering change. Imagine a crossbow being cocked with an arrow set in it (elastic potential). In this model the flight of the arrow is thought of as the realization of this potential. Next, if we simply allow time to pass, what then transpires? If left for instance in our earthly environment, the bow’s latch may simply corrode and have its potential realized. Now what if we moved this setup to deep space? According to our current understanding the tension and thereby this potential of the bow will relax (diminish) over a period of time, to the point where it is gone entirely. This of course is related to the role entropy has in this regard.

To continue, entropy has recently been connected with "information”, such as in Hawking’s view. It could therefore be stated, that entropy has acted to eliminate (dissipate) this potential. In this way, potential could be simply considered as the sum total of information as it is ordered. So, following this down, potential can be considered as a consequence of the presence and ordering of information. We now ask J.S. Bell’s question when confronted with this “all is information” concept as to what is the physical world. This question is “information about what”? The answer then suggested would be it is information about potential. Of course the thing that can’t be neglected here is the “order” of information. That is, without the ordering, there is no real information and thereby no potential to be realized. The point here of course, is that information, on its own, is not a fundamental entity, rather ordered information is. Then we continue with how I would suppose Bell would by asking, “ordering of what”? This is where the concept gets stuck since there is nothing considered real outside what is called information which as demonstrated is actually ordered information. It must be reminded here that in this example we are not dealing with what would be generally considered as physical at all in that what is so described is potential.

Now the question, from whence came the order? Bohm’s reply would be that it is a fundamental aspect and thereby consequence of the wave. Looked at this way then “actualization” of information or its potential is the “particle” (i.e. ones and zeros) aspect of reality, while the ordering is the “wave” (i.e. program) aspect. This suggests, as Bohm and his proponents have insisted, that there must be a dual ontology to nature. Now what should be considered as a reasonable explanation of reality? “Information” ordered by “what”, or “particles” guided by “waves”.

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