Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes

Seife, Charles

Whether it's packed into a barcode or sucked into a black hole in the far reaches of space, information is everywhere-a key, if properly deciphered, to unlocking the remaining secrets of the universe. In this powerful and absorbing work, award-winning science journalist Charles Seife takes us to the cutting edge of information theory-a science that is showing us the meaning of our genes, the nature of parallel universes, and even the surprising fate of our cosmos. Full of answers that are often more shocking than the paradoxes they solve, Decoding the Universe is as profound as it is engrossing. Editorial Reviews From Barnes & Noble Once the sole province of linguists and philosophers, information theory has become a central generative science. Charles Seife's Decoding the Universe describes how theorists came to understand that information is not simply a mental construct but also a fundamental element of the physical world. With engaging clarity, Seife explains the implications of this discovery for advanced physics and, indeed, the nature of time and space. Publishers Weekly In a book that's all but impossible to put down, science journalist Seife (Alpha & Omega) explains how the concepts of information theory have begun to unlock many of the mysteries of the universe, from quantum mechanics to black holes and the likely end of the universe. Seife presents a compelling case that information is the one constant that ties all of science, indeed all of the universe, together. His skill with language permits him to do what many have tried and few have accomplished-making complicated concepts of quantum mechanics accessible to the average reader. Seife demonstrates how quantum oddities so alien to classical physics actually are consistent with the same physical laws that govern the world we see. For example, the fact that entangled particles half a universe away can instantaneously communicate with one another (what Einstein called "spooky action" at a distance), apparently violating the law that nothing can exceed the speed of light, can be understood through information theory. Seife takes all of this to a most bizarre, but logical, conclusion reached by many cosmologists: the universe as we know it is but one of an infinite number of universes, all brought into being through information transfer. (Feb. 6) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. Library Journal "Civilization is doomed," science journalist Seife (Alpha & Omega) begins, in large part blaming a bad case of information overload. This is not just the kind of information on a printed page or transmitted over the Internet, though-it is also a physical reality that can be studied, expressed, and applied mathematically and the subject of this book. Information theory is a late 20th-century breakthrough in science, with origins in cryptography and Boolean logic, that is rapidly being extended to explore phenomena in both the natural and the physical sciences, up to cosmology and its ultimate calculation of the inevitable demise of intelligent life in the universe. Seife devotes much of the content to reviewing the history of modern thermodynamics, relativity theory, and quantum physics but with a new twist that shows how understanding the nature of information can solve problems and paradoxes. Seife, who holds advanced degrees in probability theory and artificial intelligence, packs a lot of intellectual depth into accessible language, and he keeps the narrative conversational. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Also, librarians who justifiably consider themselves to be information experts can benefit from the perspectives and possibilities of this book.-Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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