Information takes up physical space
It’s incredibly small, but nevertheless, it seems that information does actually require some physical space in order to exist.
Previously I’d always assumed that information was not physical, and when you consider how much information you can store on a 1 terabyte hard drive compared to the old days, when storage was huge.
Yet as storage space increases so too does the amount of information we want to store. Endless super high quality streaming video footage, quantum physics experiment data… is there a limit? Even if we could store one bit of information per atom. The amount of practical space we have access to is finite. Therefore surely the amount of information we can store is also finite? It’s a lot, an unimaginable amount, but ultimately finite.
So what does this say about the ground of all being. If information requires some physical substructure, does this mean that consciousness is not the root of the world after all… ?
Awareness is information.
It’s often thought that awareness, or pure being, or consciousness, is a non physical process, it exists beyond the limits of the physical world.
However awareness itself is a flow of information. And information requires physical space, so even awareness has a physical presence in spacetime.
It could be that the space required to process the awareness of the universe requires a space the size of the universe.
All of the information required to create a universe, takes up the space of a universe.
So what happens after you die?
Let’s say that you are information, not only the physical information of your body, but also your mental information, the contents of your mind and all of your experience, there is some other form of information here too, but I’m not sure how to name it.
Now when you die, what happens to all this information? It doesn’t disappear. Physics tells us that information cannot be destroyed, it just changes form. So it continues to exist, but obviously something has changed, there is a radical difference in the form and process of the physical and mental presence. However the information still exists, after all, it is a fundamental law of physics, information cannot be destroyed. But it does transform. And as it transforms it dissipates. Or we could say, it changes its form of coherence.
Incoherent information takes the same space as coherent information.
We can experience this when we do a jigsaw puzzle. The final image is just the result of rearranging all the pieces. Yet all the random pieces take up the same space as the final image.
So if we break down your body into random atoms, you would take up the same space, but you would no longer be recognisable as you.
So it seems that death is a process that causes a significant incoherence in the information that is you. Or rather, death happens as the coherence of the information we associate with (self) becomes no longer coherent.
And this can be physical death, or psychological death. A person can “seem” dead to another person if the information one knew them by has become significantly incoherent.
But what about the experience from the first person perspective? What does it feel like to die? What does it feel like to experience becoming incoherent?
From the point of view of awareness, I can say that to witness ones own slow transformation toward greater incoherence is quite humbling. Firstly there is the recognition of the tremendous organisation of information required to process this experience of being alive. It truly is quite spectacular. There is also a tremendous sadness, seeing the potential never accomplished. And at the same time, there is some kind of excitement, seeing the possibilities for others partaking in this same journey. What might they accomplish in this world to come?
As the information that holds me together as a coherent process in this world disperses, I become less able to make sense of, and in, this world. Yet another world opens up to me, a world not of sense making, but a world of a more pure experiential quality. It is as if I am seeing beneath the surface of the sense making world, to some underlying sublayer. There are colours but with no names, there are forms, again with no names. Here we have bypassed the naming layer, the part that keeps information coherent, now this information seems to mingle and merge with itself, to bypass boundaries once imposed by the naming coherence. It is possible to experience the incoherence, and it’s not so frightening, there is a sense of awe and wonder, there is an experience of such vastness and incredible majesty. It’s just very different to what we’re normally used to.
Slipping further into incoherence it becomes difficult to bridge a connection from the experience to my word forming activity… and soon the ability to continue typing …
There comes a point where coherence with this physical world ends. But I cannot say for sure that at that point awareness ends. It could well be that awareness continues, and perhaps even finds a new form of coherence. I’ve not yet had that experience, so I cannot report on it. But I can certainly entertain the possibility. It feels perfectly feasible. Awareness is very present at the layers beyond words and forms. It’s a strange world, an unspeakable world, but a reality non the less. So to speculate a deeper reality beyond even that, is conceivable.
And of what spaces we will find ourselves in, when we move beyond this world, are journeys of which we can only yet dream…
And to all those who are about to take that journey, I wish god speed and may good angels be your companions.