Still waiting for Carnot: information and complexity

Back in 2015, Lyn Robinson and I published an article in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology [1], which gave an analysis of the relation between information and complexity, showing that ideas of complexity, organization, and 'interesting order', were intertwined with concepts of information, and of entropy. In particular, we noted… Continue reading Still waiting for Carnot: information and complexity

Deep down things revisited: information and physics

This post gives an update on the development of the idea of information as a constituent of the physical world, and is a companion piece to earlier posts on information in the biological domain, on the conservation of information, on quantum information, and on the theory of relativity and its informational component. All are expressions… Continue reading Deep down things revisited: information and physics

Still awaiting the quantum turn: updated

Updated May 2019 Since this post was published, there has been an increasing interest in reformulating quantum mechanics in informational terms: an accessible introduction is given in an article in Quanta magazine by Philip Ball. Those who want to have a look at more technical examples might try a classic paper on an informational derivation… Continue reading Still awaiting the quantum turn: updated

What is life redux; information and biology

Readers of this blog will know that one of my interests is the links there may be between conceptions of information in different domains; see the Mind the Gap paper by myself and Lyn Robinson. The concept of information, albeit understood in rather different ways, seems to be gaining increasing acceptance in both the physical… Continue reading What is life redux; information and biology

Everything old is new again

While reading the fifth, and latest, volume of Peter Ackroyd's splendid history of England, which deals with the Victorian age, I was struck by the extent to which the atmosphere of the late nineteenth-century nation, which Ackroyd captures so evocatively, mirrors our own troubled and anxious times. Whether or not the study of history allows… Continue reading Everything old is new again

“For its own sake and for his own personal joy”: Leonardo’s unpublished notebooks

Leonardo da Vinci is known for many things, but being a case study of one style of information behaviour is not usually among them. However, among the many other aspects of his life covered in Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography, this emerges clearly, particularly from a consideration of his voluminous production of notes and lists, many… Continue reading “For its own sake and for his own personal joy”: Leonardo’s unpublished notebooks

Byrhtferth’s diagram: microcosm and macrocosm

Among the many wonderful things on display at the recent Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library was the intriguing image known as Byrhtferth's diagram. The version of the diagram on display was from the British Library's own manuscript collection (Harley MS3667). Although stunning, it is somewhat incomplete: St John's College, Oxford, has a slightly… Continue reading Byrhtferth’s diagram: microcosm and macrocosm

Physicist as librarian; Henri Poincaré’s intriguing metaphor

Among the new additions to Oxford University Press's admirable series of Very Short Introductions is a revised edition of J.L. Heilbron's VSI to the History of Physics. An interesting read in general, it raises one intriguing idea in particular; the metaphor of physicist as librarian. Libraries and documents feature throughout the book. Heilbron notes that… Continue reading Physicist as librarian; Henri Poincaré’s intriguing metaphor