Max Tegmark's quantum library: nihilo


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Max Tegmark


At first sight, an accurate description of the state of the universe appears to require a mind-bogglingly large and perhaps even infinite amount of information, even if we restrict our attention to a small subsystem such as a rabbit. In this paper, it is suggested that most of this information is merely apparent, as seen from our subjective viewpoints, and that the algorithmic information content of the universe as a whole is close to zero. It is argued that if the Schrödinger equation is universally valid, then decoherence together with the standard chaotic behavior of certain non-linear systems will make the universe appear extremely complex to any self-aware subsets that happen to inhabit it now, even if it was in a quite simple state shortly after the big bang. For instance, gravitational instability would amplify the microscopic primordial density fluctuations that are required by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle into quite macroscopic inhomogeneities, forcing the current wavefunction of the universe to contain such Byzantine superpositions as our planet being in many macroscopically different places at once. Since decoherence bars us from experiencing more than one macroscopic reality, we would see seemingly complex constellations of stars etc, even if the initial wavefunction of the universe was perfectly homogeneous and isotropic.

Reference info:

Published in Found. Phys. Lett., 9, 25-42.

Online references:

This site also contains the latest versions of a paper of mine on decoherence and wavefunction collapse which is referenced in the text; Tegmark 1993.

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This page was last modified July 1, 1998.