Physicist Quantifies Amount of Information in Entire Visible Universe

Universe Energy Concept

Amount of information in visible universe quantified in new research.

Estimate measures information encoded in particles, opens door to practical experiments.

Researchers have long suspected a connection between information and the physical universe, with various paradoxes and thought experiments used to explore how or why information could be encoded in physical matter. The digital age propelled this field of study, suggesting that solving these research questions could have tangible applications across multiple branches of physics and computing.

In AIP Advances, from AIP Publishing, a University of Portsmouth researcher attempts to shed light on exactly how much of this information is out there and presents a numerical estimate for the amount of encoded information in all the visible matter in the universe — approximately 6 times 10 to the power of 80 bits of information. While not the first estimate of its kind, this study’s approach relies on information theory.

“The information capacity of the universe has been a topic of debate for over half a century,” said author Melvin M. Vopson. “There have been various attempts to estimate the information content of the universe, but in this paper, I describe a unique approach that additionally postulates how much information could be compressed into a single elementary particle.”

To produce the estimate, the author used Shannon’s information theory to quantify the amount of information encoded in each elementary particle in the observable universe as 1.509 bits of information. Mathematician Claude Shannon, called the Father of the Digital Age because of his work in information theory, defined this method for quantifying information in 1948.

“It is the first time this approach has been taken in measuring the information content of the universe, and it provides a clear numerical prediction,” said Vopson. “Even if not entirely accurate, the numerical prediction offers a potential avenue toward experimental testing.”

Recent research sheds light on the ways information and physics interact, such as how information exits a black hole. However, the precise physical significance of information remains elusive, but multiple radical theories contend information is physical and can be measured.

In previous studies, Vopson postulated information is a fifth state of matter alongside solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, and that elusive dark matter could be information. Vopson’s study also included derivation of a formula that reproduces accurately the well-known Eddington number, the total number of protons in the observable universe.

While the approach in this study ignored antiparticles and neutrinos and made certain assumptions about information transfer and storage, it offers a unique tool for estimating the information content per elementary particle. Practical experiments can now be used to test and refine these predictions, including research to prove or disprove the hypothesis that information is the fifth state of matter in the universe.

Reference: “Estimation of the information contained in the visible matter of the universe” by Melvin M. Vopson, 19 October 2021, AIP Advances.
DOI: 10.1063/5.0064475

6 Comments on "Physicist Quantifies Amount of Information in Entire Visible Universe"

  1. WOW! Science has finally done it! Solved the MYSTERY that has plagued Humankind since the Middle Ages! Now we know how many Angels can sit on the head of a pin! Just in time for the New Inquisition.
    Keep looking… ⬆️

    • Torbjörn Larsson | October 25, 2021 at 1:52 am | Reply

      Of the various types of information measures suggested to describe the universe entropy, the information entropy measure introduced in the paper is among the most uninteresting.

      The thermodynamic properties of the universe is interesting for purposes of understanding cosmology, which is why physicists attempt to quantify its entropy (ability to do work). C.f. the black hole physics mentioned.

      Information entropy is interesting for describing communication channels or code compression. But that it has to do with other physics is a problematic suggestion. Like information there are many similar but different ways to define entropy. That’s why we call them analogies, not equivalences.

      So I dunno why you got upset by this work.

  2. BibhutibhusanPatel | October 25, 2021 at 12:24 am | Reply

    Òf course the total amount òf verrverindormation stored in the universe visible and present as dark energy/matter is constant.However estimation and formula derived for this may be incomplete with citing simply a fraction as we know at present.The amount of antimatter with antineutrino commonly do not present in universe and are specifcic minute rare cases present negative to nature at some location can be neglected.Thanks for such hypothesis for fifth state is resonable without able efficint calculation method or knowledge of total matter.

  3. BibhutibhusanPatel | October 25, 2021 at 12:33 am | Reply

    Òf course the total amount òf verrverindormation stored in the universe visible and present as dark energy/matter is constant.However estimation and formula derived for this may be incomplete with citing simply a fraction as we know at present.The amount of antimatter with antineutrino commonly do not present in universe and are specifcic minute rare cases present negative to nature at some location can be neglected.Thanks for such hypothesis for fifth state is resonable without able efficint calculation method or knowledge of total matter.

    Yet we have to discover more galaxies in coming years to increase more knowledge.

    The mechanism how dark matter/energy function to account accelerating universe is in dark yet.

  4. What happens whan I copy-n-paste the Universe?

    Asking for a friend…

Leave a Reply to Frosted Flake Cancel reply

Email address is optional. If provided, your email will not be published or shared.