Friday, November 25, 2011
Life, the universe and nothing...
I have always - since childhood - been of the opinion that the universe must have required no information to start with. This is obvious; where could that information have come from? If from outside the universe then change the boundaries of the definition of "universe" to include that place and repeat the process... at some point the whole shebang started with no information.
This forced me to assume that many parallel worlds existed before I knew about the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum physics, and my reasoning was as follows:
Consider a toy universe, that contains nothing but a light switch and an observer. Oh, we'll throw in a light as well and some kind of power source and so on.
Now, suppose that observer sees that the light is on. They then find themselves in the position of wondering how it came to be on - and no doubt given time they'll create a cosmology of a loving god that created the universe with the light switched on so they could read the instructions. Pity there aren't any, I forgot to supply them.
But however they look at it they can't avoid the fact that their universe contained at least one bit of information at the beginning - the fact that the light was on.
But suppose that this isn't the whole of that toy universe... suppose it has another part with an observer (identical to the first) and a light,etc, but here in this part the light is turned off. Again they'll come up with a cosmology of a creator - maybe after a lot of fumbling about, and it'll be regarded as a bit of a bastard this time, I suspect - that created the universe with the light switched off.
But however they look at it they can't avoid the fact that their universe contained at least one bit of information at the beginning ie the fact that the light was off.
But to something that understands that this universe is a multiverse, with the light both on and off, there is no need for that initial bit of information. Their reality contains no information about that switch, when taken as a whole.
What the observers see as information is simply a function of their limited viewpoint based on where they are in the multiverse, it's not information intrinsic to the multiverse as a whole. They think that their reality is more highly specified than it actually is...
This is how I've thought our reality works for a long time; I've pretty much always thought that the universe must have required zero initial information and the old question of "why is there something rather than nothing" is fundamentally resolved by the fact that "nothing" is a much more highly ordered state than "everything" - there is, after all, only one single way for there to be absolutely nothing. That's as ordered as it's possible to get ;)
If the multiverse contains every possible outcome of every possible 'decision' then it's as disordered as possible, and in my casual usage of the terms here contains no information at all. Oh, sure, there's a *fuck* of a lot of it out there, but what evidence do we have that reality is bothered by questions of scale?