On Space and Time, a bit informationally

A very nice new book On Space and Time, edited by Shahn Majid (Cambridge University Press), gives accounts of the current state of play in fundamental physics. Six authors, including a philosopher and a theologian as well as the expected physics/cosmology/mathematics representatives, give personal accounts of their take on the developing frontiers. Not very much, alas, about my particular interest, the ‘information physics’ approach. Shahn Majid’s chapter includes the note that ‘information defined as that which is communicated … links back to thermodynamics and, these days, to gravity.’ Michael Heller, in the ‘philosophy’ contribution, reminds us of Wheeler’s concept of ‘It from bit’, with elementary bits of information as fundamental blocks of physical reality. ‘These conceptions’, writes Heller, ‘appear seldom now in the centre of scientific papers, but the ideas underlying them are still alive’. I certainly hope so.

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