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Archive for August 2011

Knowledge is power, literally?

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Just ran across some old news:

Demonic device converts information to energy (nature.com)

Of course, information cannot be converted to energy. Obtaining information about the system is thermodynamically equivalent to cooling a part of it, and thus requires energy. So knowledge is not power, but knowledge is cool.

Wikipedia has 2 great articles on the subject:

Entropy in thermodynamics and information theory (the sensational claim “information to energy conversion is possible” right next to the correct claim “possession of a single bit of Shannon information […] really does correspond to a reduction in the entropy of the physical system.”

History of entropy I love this:

“Why don’t you call it entropy”, von Neumann suggested. “In the first place, a mathematical development very much like yours already exists in Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics, and in the second place, no one understands entropy very well, so in any discussion you will be in a position of advantage.

I understand entropy well enough to have a big respect for my air conditioner. It must have so much knowledge about the movement of molecules in my room that I’m really worried about my privacy.


Written by bbzippo

08/17/2011 at 3:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized