Big History – The Unfolding of “Information”

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Ken Solis


This essay’s central thesis is that information and its “flows” are just as crucial as energy flow densities for the realization of increasingly complex systems over the course of big history. In fact, it is the requisite interplay between at least these two phenomena that make complexity possible. As with any endeavor of a philosophical or scientific nature, definitions are a crucial beginning point for building any argument. Hence, critical definitions will form an important basis for the content of this essay. If we assert that information plays just as essential a role as energy flows do for the realization of complex systems, then we must also propose the role information plays on a more basic physical level to support this contention. After all, complex systems don’t “spring fully formed from the head of Zeus like Athena.” Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must have a better intuitive grasp of what information is or at the very least, what it does. As an example, physicists still don’t know what “energy” fundamentally is, just what it does, e.g., “energy is the capacity to do work.”

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