A hypothesis I’ve been enjoying lately is that the universe has evolved from a single bit (or an “on or off” rule) that, in the beginning, was applied randomly to itself. Everything has expanded from that and exists as information rather than particles and waves – or put another way our existence is best modelled as a set of information relationships rather than a collection of particles and waves.
I’m not sure how original this idea is (I think I read once that Feynman had speculated about the universe being driven by information bits rather than physical things) but I’m really liking the concept as it seems to be consistent with most of the current ideas about how the world works such as string theory and evolution and perhaps even some forms of religious belief that don’t define things too narrowly.
So I’m saying that the universe is best thought of as a non-physical entity analogous to a computer program (but I do NOT mean it is a “simulation” from a giant mind or computer – I’m saying at the core of everything there is … nothing but a single rule). Everything we experience is an expansion from a single rule that says an information bits can be either on or off (or 1 / 0 or whatever). The physical reality / evolution / everything we all experience is as “real” as in other modelling, but it is an imperfect vision of what makes it all tick and when we eventually find the ultimate source it will be a single info bit.
That single “off or on” rule, when applied in random fashion, will lead to increasingly complex rule relationships. Given enough time many different “information associations” will emerge including what we now call “matter” and “energy”. In turn these matter and energy relationships evolved into … you, me, and the universe we currently experience.
What I like about this notion is that it helps me come to grips with some of the most baffling aspects of modern physics: The first is string cosmology which suggests there could be an infinite number of alternate universes existing side by side with ours. This seems a lot less fanciful if our existence is information driven. In the same way you can run a chess program and this blog side by side without them having awareness of each other we could be “running” our universe without awareness of our next door neighboring universe.
The second reconciliation is with the electrons of an atom, which are not well defined as either particles or energy. They “exist” in our models as a probability relationship with our observation and with the atom. This is mind bending if you try to think about it in physical terms, but if *at the very core* the electron is a rule and not an object or wave then it seems to be much more accessible as a concept.
At first I’d thought this might do something to reconcile the religion vs science debates but I don’t think religious folks will be too happy with an origin this simple and … “godless”, though I think I’m cool with the idea we can say God is the prime mover in the equation – the single on/off rule that, applied randomly to itself, started everything.