- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471321745
- ISBN-13: 978-0471321743
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,158,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Bit and the Pendulum: From Quantum Computing to M Theory- The New Physics of Information 1st Edition
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Information, for most of us, is an airy, abstract thing--the stuff of ideas, images, and symbols. But for Tom Siegfried and the scientists he writes about in The Bit and the Pendulum: How the New Physics of Information Is Revolutionizing Science, information has become something much more fundamental to the workings of the world. "Information is real," Siegfried explains. "Information is physical." What that means depends somewhat on the discipline it's applied to (cosmology, particle physics, computer science, cognitive theory, and molecular biology are among the fields examined here), but in general it comes down to the radically simple notion that the universe, at its deepest levels, is made not of matter and energy but of bits. Information is real, yes. But more to the point: reality, in some increasingly meaningful sense, is information.
So goes the argument anyway. And Siegfried, science editor of the Dallas Morning News, does a pretty good job of presenting it. His prose, admittedly, puts the flat in flat-footed, and his explanations of the relevant scientific phenomena (which include cool stuff like teleportation and quantum-mechanical computing) are sometimes murkier than they ought to be. But his knowledge of the last 10 years of theoretical research is sweeping, and he's especially deft with the tricky philosophy-of-science issues that pervade his topic. Have scientists really discovered, in information, the world's true foundation? Or have they simply found a handy new metaphor with which to think about the world? Siegfried wisely comes down on neither side of the question. For him, the power of metaphor is inseparable from the quest for scientific truth. And his book convincingly suggests that information, as a concept, will be generating deep scientific truths for years to come. --Julian Dibbell
From Library Journal
Siegfried, the science editor of the Dallas Morning News, presents the radical idea that information is not merely something abstract and intangible but that it is physical. He asserts that bits and bytes of information are the foundation of reality; in other words, "it from bit." He argues that everything in the universe, from the biology of living things to the cosmology of a black hole, is constructed of nothing more substantial than bits of information. Whether one agrees with this far-out concept or not, Siegfried weaves a provocative and convincing argument, supported by a plethora of scientific and mathematical research cited in numerous sources recommended for further reading. This is the new physics of information, and Siegfried says it is leading to major breakthroughs in a vast range of science such as teleportation and the development of "quantum computers" designed to decode the mysteries of DNA and human consciousness. Recommended for an informed audience.
-Joe J. Accardi, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I am getting really annoyed with books by reporters, however knowledgeable, who waste pages obliquely describing equations and concepts that can easily be described clearly in a line or a couple of paragraphs. Does he really know what he is talking about? Whether or not the writer understands high school algebra, he certainly appears to assume that the reader does not. If you don't, you will have a hard time with this book anyway; if you do, you can learn more faster and free at your nearest friendly (i.e. not related to AOL) search engine.
The revolutionary insight central to all of this new science is that the most fundamental constituents of matter are not atoms, or even subatomic particles, but "bits," the fundamental units of information. Scientists are exploring an all-encompassing new path towards understanding life, physics, and existence. The path leads through all of nature, from the interior of cells to inside black holes. The conclusion is always the same: the world is made of information.
Siegfried provides lucid and entertaining explanations of the latest theories in quantum physics and how they are being applied by quantum cryptographers to create secret codes that are absolutely unbreakable. We learn how the mind-boggling physics of "reversible logic" can recapture lost information and are introduced to the controversy over M Theory, which some scientists argue is the long-sought "Theory of Everything."
This books offers the lay reader an engaging, fast-paced introduction to a fundamentally new way of seeing the world and an amazing glimpse into many of the hottest areas of scientific endeavour today.
Tom Siegfried is the science editor of the Dallas Morning News. He is the recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Westinghouse Award for science journalism.