The Copenhagen interpretation of life, the universe and everything
Everyday entropy began as an investigation into energy, efficiency and information, but it has become the Copenhagen interpretation of life, the universe and everything. The blog posts veer off on tangents, from quantum mechanics through relativity and thermodynamics to art and the environment, but all begin with entropy and the fundamental relationship between matter, information and spacetime.
I am a lawyer, not a physicist, so I have to accept that Quantum mechanics is a complete description of the information that passes from one particle to another and special relativity is a perfect description of the configuration of matter in space. As a linguist, I can say that the configuration and its entropy are not information, and can only be described by information in terms of probabilities. The confusion between quantum and classical physics arrises out of the failure to rigorously define information, not a problem of measurement. Momentum, charge and spin are all bits of real information that a particle can communicate directly to the instrument, so they appear to be true and fundamental. Because quantum information slots straight into the information of description, it seduces science into believing it is a privileged position from which to map the universe. This, despite Einstein’s proof that no privileged position exists in real space and Bohr’s admonition to understand the difference between the observed information and its subsequent explanation. Position is not information. It takes an un-quantised composite of information and material to create a map with which to make meaning of the instrument’s measurements of position.
But it turns out that this problem of mapping extends to all scales and frames. From Zeno’s paradox to general relativity to dark matter and energy, all of the conundrums in physics have been mapping problems. You cannot make a map without an inertial frame of reference in thermodynamic equilibrium. Because the information must be laid out on a stable substrate to preserve its meaning, a map is a composite of information and entropy that can only exist as a classical tool. It has no quantum counterpart. Not only that, but the information never maps the entropy of the mapped configuration, so that all maps are off, skewed and incomplete. A holographic universe is no better than a cork-board full of tacks.
If information is taken as real but formally distinct from entropy, the paradoxes of quantum mechanics and classical relativity disappear. The difference between a wave and a particle is not the important distinction. The fundamental distinction is between position and information. There is no record of position in space, and as quantum entanglement shows, fundamental information is indifferent to position anyway.
In the end, everyday entropy is an exegesis on the importance of entropy in a world dominated by information and energy. Position and configuration may be quantitatively uncertain, but the are not insignificant. Words, maps and clocks are all composites of information and entropy.