We Live in a Computer Simulation
Naturally Stored Information
Like a book that stores information for future observation and interpretations; nature also stores information through Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). DNA is a complex molecule that carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functionality and reproduction of all known living organisms.
Information is encoded in the structure of the DNA molecule. Within the molecule, four nuclei tides’ are paired and makeup a code of instructions for the specie carrying it.
Above: a drawing of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.
Very vital is the coded instructions (information) in DNA. An altering within the instructions of the DNA will actually change the entity carrying it. Thus, the storage of information within DNA is stored to ensure the species continued existence. The type of storage DNA executes is termed, “Long Term Storage” of information. It speaks of taking information from the past (an entity from the past) and sending it into the future (an entity in the future).
Eventually every living thing will physically die. The goal of the “Long Term Storage” process is to prevent this physical death by producing new entities (i.e. offspring’s,) with the same DNA coded information, so that information can live through them.
Someone would ask the question,
“Is information (especially within DNA) life?”
Although it is because of DNA an entity is able to reproduce, the reproduction factor doesn’t make the entity alive. For example: if the reproduction factor constituted life; that definition would exclude the animal we call the mule, which is born sterile, and would include nonliving things like fire, which is capable of reproduction.
Most proposed definitions of life tend to have these loopholes. Therefore, to suggest life is something that can metabolize, take in energy to move, and release waste is ludicrous because; many nonliving things like cars can do the same.
Biochemist David Deamer of the University of California, Santa Cruz has once said, "Life, because it is such a complex system of things with so many interacting parts, each of which is essential, it's really tough to make a definition,"
But in 1944, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger defined “life” perfectly (from a biological perspective) when he connected it to the Second Law of Thermodynamics and stated, life is that which “resists” decaying to disorder and equilibrium. This is a powerful definition for life because it speaks volumes to conscious awareness.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states, closed systems (i.e. humans, animals, cells and etc.) will naturally gain entropy, or disorder, over time. Entropy is a natural occurrence of our reality. All things in our physical reality undergo entropy (i.e. a falling from order to disorder.) Like the average teenager's room will inevitably get messier, so it is with the physicality’s of the universe. All the physicality’s of the universe are subject to decay and disorder. Thus, Schrödinger said, life is that which “resists” decaying to disorder…. Living things “resist” entropy (i.e. work against death) by seeking and taking in nutrients and metabolizing them. As for the example of the car above, which takes in energy to move, and releases waste; it would still be erroneous to see a car as alive because it doesn’t seek these things. It doesn’t “resist decay to disorder”.
Although you may not understand this until the later chapters of this book; I would go as far as to state: “life” in a nutshell is information that is capable of ensuring its continued existence. Note: every living thing is subject to evolution; and simply put, the DNA that develops the best living thing around will stay in the game we call life.
An in-depth study on the history of mitochondria (an organelle found in cells) will show how important the survival of DNA is in biological creatures. These double membrane-bound organelles (mitochondria) traded off their lives hundreds of thousands of years ago for the survival of their DNA.
Mitochondria once belonged to the family of bacteria. In the distant past it merged in a partnership with our ancestor cells to ensure the survival of their DNA. Thus, they still have their own DNA and can multiply on their own. But by definition, mitochondria are not alive anymore. They are dead!
Therefore, it should be safe to state: biological things will evolve, even into dead things, as long as it is beneficial to the continual survival of the information held within the DNA. This is why human parents protect their young. It is innate in the creature to do so for the survival of the genetic code (information) held within the DNA.
SELF SURVIVING CODE
Some would argue it is love and morals that drive us to protect our offspring. This is arguably true on certain levels with humans. But if it is only love and morals, and not an innate program within us that causes us to rear up and protect our offspring; one would have to ask the question:
“Why are animals doing the same, protecting and raising their young?”
Animals have no sense of ethnics or morals. There are no marriage laws in place for them, no child support laws that would bind the animal to the offspring. It has been tested over and over and proven that animals live self-interest lives. Thus, one would think they would have sex, have the offspring’s and abandon them on the spot. But they do not abandon them. And this is because of the genetic code.
Of-course there are some animals that do not care for their young at all. But all animals that require care and upbringing to survive naturally receive extra development time from their parent for survival advantages. And animal’s offspring that do not require this treatment to survive does not receive it from the parent.
The evolutionary reasons for protecting care among animals that require extra development are that they share genes with their offspring. And the gene is a unit of heredity (i.e. a transfer of physical and mental characteristics from parent to offspring, from one generation to another.)
Each parent contributes 50% of the genes (chromosomes) that would be possessed by the offspring. And it is the genes that code for this protecting behavior. If genes did not code for this protecting behavior in a species in whom it was needed; that species of animal would die off.
This protecting behavior is a built in biological program. And the offspring having its own offspring is the fulfilling of that biological protecting program. Long Term Storage of information within DNA is crucial; causing us as well as the animal kingdom to prepare the offspring to survive and protect the coded information transferred in DNA. Protecting parental behavior among biological creatures is beneficial to the continual survival of information held within the DNA.
Initial Information is Entropy
Thus far we have been discussing information from different angles. But to truly understand what information is; one must first have a good understanding on what entropy is.
In relation to closed systems, entropy is the degree of disorder or randomness in that closed system. Entropy is the direct measure of each energy configuration probability within a closed system. In other words, entropy equals the minimum number of yes/no questions one must ask to fully determine the value of the closed system. High entropy means the energy of that system is spread out, whereas low entropy means the energy is concentrated.
Information equates to low entropy. The lower the entropy the more information you can abstract from a system. High entropy however, equates to disorder (randomness). Thus, the higher the entropy in a system, the less you know about the system.
A basic example of entropy and how entropic information work can be seen in our alphabetical system. See below.
Example 1: levesioint
Example 2: television
Note: the two examples above exhibit the exact same letters of the alphabet, but arranged in two different ways.
Remember, towards the beginning of this introduction I stated, “words are message-concepts: sounds that communicate information.”
The lettering in Example 1 represents high entropy because the example is letters brought together as randomness, disorder (meaningless).
The lettering in Example 2 represents low entropy because the example is letters brought together with order and meaning. Therefore, example two exhibits information.
ORDER AND ENTROPY
The picture above shows from left to right, order to chaos (i.e. negative entropy to positive entropy.)
In the realms of Information Theory, entropy in general measures the ignorance of a system. On the other hand, zero entropy equates to knowing everything about a system, as is shown in the “Highly ordered” figure (immediate above left). The figure speaks of maximum information.
However, if your entropy is large, as shown in the “More disordered” figure (immediate above right), this shows there are things you do not know about the system at hand, things you cannot predict because you have less information. Click here to watch a video on entropy.
Physicists use a variety of different types of mathematical equations to calculate the entropy of systems. Depending upon what kind of way you are looking to calculate the entropy of a system will determine the sort of equation you will use.
Note: the more energy solid-matter possesses; the hotter that material becomes. Thus, for calculating entropy where the process is at a constant temperature, see the equation below.
ΔS in the equation above is the change in entropy within the system. The qrev is the reverse of the heat, and T is the Kelvin temperature.
Understanding entropy is crucial to chemistry and physics because it helps us understand things like why ice melts, why cream spreads in coffee, why air leaks out of a punctured tire and why the physical processes of the universe go forward and not in reverse. Comprehending entropy gives us the understanding on how these processes occur.
Concerning what information is; one prominent dictionary defines it this way:
“The attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects.”
“Information” Merriam-Webster Dictionary
In a nutshell, information is facts provided about something. Information can be perceived as what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of numbers, symbols, sounds, etc.….
But it is very important to note: code symbols (as the letters in a book or binary digits in a computer) are not initial information, but rather, expressions of initial information. Initial information is much more intrinsic than the mere symbols we concoct to describe it. Information can be portrayed in three distinct ways:
The facts, (i.e. raw data,)
The communication of that data,
The potential interpretation that can be given to those who receive that data.