Ethereal info

Tim Byars (
Fri, 2 Oct 1998 11:50:18 -0700

Watching information at play in the quantum world
is throwing physicists into a flat spin,
says Mark Buchanan.

WHAT does a financial index have in common with Shakespeare's
Richard III, a drawing of a cat and this sentence? Easy. No matter
how important any one of them may be to you, they can all be
reduced to the ubiquitous digital bits of the information age. And,
as such, they can pass from a mind to a machine, flow down
telephone lines and spill out unchanged onto a page halfway
across the world. Information is nothing but patterns of 0s and 1s.

Or so everyone has believed. But now a growing band of physicists
is putting forth a more alarming notion. They believe that
information is a superweird new substance, more ethereal than
matter or energy, but every bit as real and perhaps even more
fundamental. For them, information is a kind of subtle substance
that lies behind and beneath physical stuff. "Information is deeper
than reality," says Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the University of

continued @


"The public wants what the public gets, but I don't want what society's got" - Paul Weller

<> <>