Niall’s virtual diary archives – Monday 11th June 2012

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Monday 11th June 2012: 8.14pm. Link shared:

Just wrote this in reply to an +The Open University discussion thread. Might of be interest to others.

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I'm glad you like GEB! Some find it too overwhelming, some really dislike the pretentious style (he typeset the entire thing himself too - the original edition is absolutely beautiful - and given the age he did all this at he makes us all look pretty dumb and lazy). On the other hand, if you can master GEB you instantly gain the respect of every logician out there, particularly the paradox logic guys.

Next book you ought to read after is "The Web Of Life" by Fritjof Capra (1996?) which is a rewrite for the popular market of very rare "The Self-Organising Universe" by Eric Jantsch (1980?). Both are really out of date, but they give you some idea of where things are going. Both are much easier going than GEB, they're more a literature review.

I've read lots of books on mathematical information, but I have to admit none of them are particularly good apart from the above sadly. If anyone on M208 can suggest anything that would be great.

If you meant "[information] seems to almost occupy its own dimension, we just catch the shadows of it" you have that almost exactly backwards. Everyone is taught that matter is energy like E = mc2, but as is obvious that isn't quite true. What makes matter matter and not sunlight is because matter is a store of information which transforms the sunlight which passes through its relative field of effect, whereas sunlight is merely the carrier of information between matter(s) and does no transforming on its own. Therefore, everything we perceive is quite literally information in transit post-13.7 million years of transformations by the accumulated store of information to this date. It's all we can perceive in fact. In fact, that is identical to time itself - Prigogine was very good on that point actually.

If you meant instead "[information transformation] seems to almost occupy its own dimension, we just catch the shadows of it" then you're spot on. Read up about cryptographic hash functions' effect on data and that's not a half bad model of what time does to information. The reason we don't fully appreciate this is because all life is specifically designed to filter out almost all the noise. Otherwise called finding food/love/understanding :) And by the way, perception of information transformation is nearly, but not quite logarithmic to 10e40 in scale i.e. we can only perceive about 40 levels of anything approaching infinity in size in any one direction. See That page only focuses on physics, but you'll see it again as the most plausible explanation of - ignore the self-promoting rubbish mongers mentioned on that page, it's a perceptual artefact, nothing more.

Anyway I'll stop now. I just finished my PGCert with the Institute of Education today, will have free time once again for a short while!


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