|de Steensplinter Geology and a cosmology of the obvious||5.1 form and information|
25 B.O. Küppers, ed., `Leben = Physik +
Chemie?', Piper, München, 1987,
(this book was not available to me)
26 Helmut Moritz, 1995, p. 188.
27 I got permission to sample the section.
But you can not reach everything from the trail.
The section has, of course, been studied in
detail by the Geological Survey geologists,
allthough I have seen no evidence of their
At this level of size the experimenter, taking
a sample, has no noticeable influence on
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form and information
Thus far I purposely did not use the word information, as I did not want to get entangled in the mathematical subtleties of information theory.
Nevertheless it is possible to discuss what the word 'information' can mean in the context of my cosmology.
Let us begin with the following quotation:
"life = matter + information" (B.O. Küppers 25)
Helmut Moritz 26 quoting Küppers, comments:
"This is probably true, but what is information? Unfortunately it is by no means
a clearly and unambigiously defined concept. The relation between entropy
and information outlined in sec. 4.3 is rather generally accepted, but neither
gives a complete definition nor is understood by all scientists in the same way
(cf. Weiszäcker 1985, chapter 5).
It is one of the basic paradoxes of science and philosophy that the most
fundamental concepts such as matter, mind, or information are so
This 'life = matter + information' -quotation ignores that the inorganic world is also full of inorganic records, that likewise consist of matter + information. If only living beings contained information, how would we be able to study inorganic records, such as galaxies or mountains?
An astronomer studying galaxies, planets, stars, or gas clouds, can read the information presented in the objects of his studies.
A geologist studying the geological history of a landscape can likewise read the information displayed in the mountains, outcrops or sediments he studies.
All those objects that I have called 'material records' , inorganic as well as organic, contain a wealth of information: elements of form, shape, composition, structure. This information can be observed, studied and analyzed by the scientist.
We start with the following theorem:
A material record consists of substance
and a number of form elements proper to this substance,
such as shape, composition, structure, et cetera.
How these form elements and substance are connected is the old problem of classical philosophy, at the base of the problem of materialism versus idealism.
Once you have walked the Bright Angel trail of the Grand Canyon, you can not escape the conclusion that this stack of rocks consists of a lot of substance. It is also clear that each of these layers of rocks is characterized by elements of form proper to it.
So I abandon the notion mass, which ignores the information,
abandon the abstract notion space,
and accept substance and shape.
All this form-information is not a message waiting to be sent to a recipient somewhere. Neither is it study-material for a student of geology, who does not exist as yet at the time of its formation.
This information is simply there.
It may be erased by a subsequent process of erosion, or transformed by a subsequent process of metamorphism.
In the case of the Grand Canyon, little happened beyond subsidence, uplift and compaction. All the successive Paleozoic layers are still lying horizontally.
Each form element of a record is a departure from the equilibrium of maximum entropy. This departure from equilibrium corresponds with a certain amount of negentropy/information which, in turn, corresponds with a certain amount of potential energy.
The energy incorporated in a material record
is equal to the sum of the potential energies
represented by the substance and by the form elements.
For many millions of years, there will be nobody to read the information presented by these form elements.
Take the example of the Redwall limestone in the Grand Canyon section. After it had been formed, more than 400 million years ago, it was covered and hidden by
a sequence of younger Paleozoic beds. It was only when, much later, the uplift started, the incision of rivers keeping pace with this uplift, that the Redwall formation became exposed with all the information still there.
So this formation can now be sampled and studied by somebody with a brain sufficiently evolved and educated to read and interpret it. 27
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