Monday, March 29, 2010

Gravity might be entropy

And entropy is a loss of quantum information in matter.

Tonight I read an article about some ideas on entropy and gravity that seemed to suggest that gravity is somehow an outcome of the complex relationship of the quantum information, or states, of the subatomic particles that make up matter.

Trying to understand this, I'm imagining that a chunk of space dust: not much matter, not many subatomic particles in various states of interaction. Big planet with lots of matter: lots of subatomic particles, all in various quantum states, all interacting in complex ways.

Jae-Weon Lee at Jungwon University in South Korea seems to have some pretty advanced ideas about gravity and quantum information. His theory seems to arise from Landauer's principle which suggests that data erasure or merging of computational paths results in more entropy. Entropy is basically just the loss of structure or information.

The article doesn't really get into the details of how changes to subatomic particles' quantum states actually causes gravity. I guess I'll have to do some more reading on the subject to get a better handle on the ideas.

But the article did remind me of some ideas I was playing with a few weeks ago now.

The Earth is a pretty bizarre place sometimes. Life on this planet seems to organize itself in ways that seem so, well, disorganized. Nature is almost always portrayed in stories and films as a wild, uncontrollable, random place where nothing makes sense, and everything is in constant flux. This idea seems to be deeply entrenched in Western thought -- the idea that the natural world of life on this planet is chaotic. Even deeper thinkers tend to imply that its patterns are spontaneous and simply the inevitable result of mathematical coincidence.

What if life itself is the result, or embodiment of entropy? The most chaotic environment I can imagine is when the universe was theoretically just a hot plasma soup. All that energy began to condense into matter and collect in gravity pools and spin around singularities. Eventually matter seems to have somehow organized itself into reproductive patterns -- life. But why?

What if the mathematically chaotic patterns that we observe in nature are a sort of response to gravity and the loss of information?

It almost seems as if this planet's life is itself intent on escaping Earth's gravity. Single-celled organisms writhe and wiggle about in fluid. Fish propel themselves through the oceans. Amphibians drag themselves ashore and lurk about. Insects burrow and crawl and dart and fly. Mammals run and swim. Birds soar. Anything, any movement, it seems. To ever stop is just to die.

As if gravity somehow represents death, while at the same time being the womb of life. As though the vastness of space were the ultimate destination of life, and the one true outcome of order from chaos. Every creature, toiling forwards, gazing upwards, arms outstretched, wings unfurled, desperate to escape the clutches of their origin.

As if life was intent only on filling up the voids of the universe with the energy represented and embodied by its patterns. The proportions of energy represented by an individual life form are astronomical when observed at the sub-atomic level, but spread throughout an organism, mechanically organized energy propels life into patterns of events that play out through time in what seems like nothing more than chaos.

Almost certainly, I don't know what I'm talking about, but ideas are fun to play with.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Stuart McMillen's cartoons

Stuart McMillen consistently produces delightful cartoons that capture the heart of the inquisitive and independent life. Some of them are very inspiring, and others convicting.

At the Recombinant Records website, you can find a selection of Stuart McMillen's works.