Unveiling of nature or social creativity: classification and discovery in astronomy: updated

Updated May 2019 Steven Dick has written an article on this topic, focusing on the classification itself, for the Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization: Astronomy's Three Kingdom System: a comprehensive classification system of celestial objects (2019). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It has always interested me to see how the development of ideas of classification and categorisation in the information… Continue reading Unveiling of nature or social creativity: classification and discovery in astronomy: updated

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

“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

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

Can information be conserved, and why would it matter?

The idea that information may be conserved may strike many of us interested in recorded human information information as faintly ridiculous. By 'conserved', we mean that there is a fixed amount of information in the universe, and that, while it may be changed, it can neither be created nor destroyed. This does not seem to… Continue reading Can information be conserved, and why would it matter?

Chemistry and its (information) history

It has often been said that chemistry was, and to an extent may still be, the most information-intensive of the sciences; see, for example, the article by Lyn Robinson and myself on chemical information literacy. This status is now challenged by molecular biology, with its 'Central Dogma' stating that information flows from DNA to RNA… Continue reading Chemistry and its (information) history

Invented and discovered: mathematics in Popper’s World 3

I have always had an interest in mathematics. This is despite, or perhaps because of, never being very good at the subject at school, and avoiding it to the maximum extent compatible with getting a science degree at university. Not that I have any fondness for what is called 'recreational mathematics', which has always seemed… Continue reading Invented and discovered: mathematics in Popper’s World 3