Re: Information

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Wed May 02 2001 - 15:05:46 BST

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    Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 15:05:46 +0100
    Subject: Re: Information
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    In-Reply-To: <[]>; from on Wed, May 02, 2001 at 09:08:58AM -0400
    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Wed, May 02, 2001 at 09:08:58AM -0400, Wade T.Smith wrote:
    > On 05/02/01 04:49, Robin Faichney said this-
    > >between physical
    > >information, which exists for its own sake, and the more usual sort,
    > >information that's about something.
    > If I understand this (and I must rephrase to understand, it's a
    > peccadillo) - physical information is what is needed by an entity for
    > existence - that necessary sufficiency of its fullness - the universals,
    > if you will - the fact that hydrogen and oxygen can combine to form water.

    Think of the form of any physical thing, say, the shape of a PC monitor.
    Now widen that concept to include not just external shape, but all
    the internals, with their mass, density, colour, electrical resistance,
    temperature at any given instant, etc, etc. That's physical information,
    and it's stored within the thing itself, ready to be read off whether by
    simple observation or by any kind of experiment. Of course there are
    differences between the necessarily complete and accurate information
    that's in there, and the incomplete and inaccurate versions we can
    extract. And it is our attempt to minimise these differences that
    generates the laws of physics, according to Roy Frieden. I'm not making
    this up, you know! :-)

    > The problem is, I don't see any _information_ as being there, but
    > formulation and organization, determined by physical constants and
    > properties.

    Of course you don't see information as being inherent in every physical
    thing until you realise this is an extension of the way the word has
    previously been used -- there are differences, but also similarities,
    and some of us consider the latter to be much more significant than the
    former, which is why we use the word this way.

    > It's not information, to me, until someone can use it.

    Isn't the information in every physical thing just waiting to be used?

    > And evolution is the information about the way things happened....

    Evolution *is* the way (some) things happened. Genetic information is
    part of that story. Or isn't that information either, because it's only
    used by biological processes?

    I have to say, Wade, I find it very funny that, in an argument with you,
    given the sort of things you tend to say about philosophy and about
    science, I have the hardest of hard sciences on my side.

    Robin Faichney
    Get your Meta-Information from
    (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)

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