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on 14 February 2011
The authors appear to be in agreement that the concept of physical laws which dominates scientific thinking during the last 300 year is overdue for revolutionary revision. They propose to consider that physical laws are a consequence of the information content of the Universe. In a set of convincing essays the authors argue that the truly fundamental concept is the information. The book touches on a rather ambitious breadth of perspectives. It helped me to find out how the concept of "information" is understood by thinkers with various backgrounds. While the credit is given to the Information theory developed by Claude E. Shannon, the articles drive in a point that a complete "theory of information" is yet to be attained. The essays represent easy reading. It is a joy to get acquainted with a group of such forward thinking individuals. Cambridge University Press have done an outstanding job with this book, in my opinion. The hardcover edition is printed on top quality paper.

It is worth mentioning a related book: A Legacy for Living Systems: Gregory Bateson as Precursor to Biosemiotics

As with reducing Matter further and further did not help yet in finding the truth about what makes us conscious. It is not that we are asked to take a leap of faith towards the broader truth. The point is that the think-tank behind this book represents a group that has come closer to it than anyone else on the planet today.
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on 24 May 2012
Judging by the reviews already submitted, this seems to be a book you either love or hate, perhaps depending on whether your background is in physics or philosophy. Paul Davies's chapter is the highlight for me, where he explores the consequences for the laws of physics of a universe containing a finite amount of information, which implies that we cannot, even in principle, express the real numbers. Seth Lloyds contribution also left me wanting more.

Our best science writers excel at expressing complex ideas in simple language, but you won't find any Feymann or Dawkins in this book. There are regular interesting snippets but the general standard of the writing (or writers) is very poor, with far too many "aren't I clever" chapters, whose aim appears to be specifically not to communicate with the reader.

If you have spent long enough studying philosophy then you may be able to cope with mouthfulls such as "hermeneutic" and "proto-endosemiotic" without an encyclopeidia to hand; you may even be happy to dwell on whether "the unique constellation of general aspects of a phenomenon makes up its uniqueness"; but there can be no excuse for this:

"Following Bickard, I would suggest that the normativity that defines representational error is an emergent property of the relationship of the Shannon-Boltzmann referential relationship with respect to the organisation of the non-equilibrium processes that interpret it".

So if the title of this book suggests to you that it is about maths, physics and computation then it isn't. It should be filed somewhere in the metaphysics, theology, philosophy or religion section. Good luck.
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on 17 August 2011
In terms of classical physics, the physical reality may be defined as matter and energy behaving according to the laws of physics in classical spacetime, and the human being is a passive observer of this reality. Consciousness (and the freewill), which operates independently in classical world, determines the ultimate fate. According to quantum physics, matter and energy behave according to the laws of quantum physics in quantized spacetime, and the human observer is an integral part of this reality. Since quantum physics include consciousness as an integral part of its laws, it appears that reality may be pre-ordained with information and the free-will is limited to operating within its domain of quantum reality. In this edited book, the authors propose a fascinating hypothesis that emphasizes information as the primary source of nature, and it is passed on through the laws of physics. This book reviews physical and biological approaches to information and its philosophical and theological implications.

The book starts splendidly with a great introduction to quantum physics and reality but ends in a chapter that claims resurrection of Jesus is supported by the laws of physics. Man-made religions are constructed on the concept of fear; the human being is judged by the morality set by human standards, and he is punished by God for his sin. This immorality of man and mercy of God are highly wired in all faiths. No real connection ever existed between any established religion and physics, and physicists should stay away from fabrication.

Interpretations of quantum physics relates the actual world as rooted in a consciousness that conceives all possible states and actualizes some of them for a reason connected with the evaluation of such states by the consciousness (Many-world interpretation of quantum physics.) This generally results in one set of possible states that gives rise to a universe. We know that consciousness cannot exist without some form of material embodiment. The object of human consciousness is physical or at least sensory, but this may be due to the failure of imagination or human limitation. There may be many kinds of objects of consciousness. Non-physical objects such as mathematical realities and unactualized logical possibilities could be imagined and even experienced. The consciousness that evolved in three spatial dimensions can not comprehend four or higher spatial dimensions of other universes. The caveat is if the consciousness has all possible universes as its object, then it could be a part of all those universes, conversely, it may not be a part of any of them. For quantum physics, cosmic consciousness is a primary ontological reality and it is the supreme principle for constructing the universes and the ultimate ontological reality is information hidden in physics.

The flow of information may also be seen in biological systems. All elementary processes of life are governed by information; the information stored in the genome of the organism is expressed by a process through which the genetic information is continually re-evaluated by permanent interactions with the physical environment to which it is exposed. In this way, the living organism is built up, step by step, into a hierarchically organized network of unmatched complexity. The fact that all phenomena of life are based upon information and communication is indeed the principal characteristic of living matter. Without the perpetual exchange of information at all levels of organization, no functional order in the living organism could be sustained. Natural selection and adaptation modulated the first primitive cells on this planet all the way into the human system.

Keith Ward postulates that an ultimate informational system carried and transmitted by a cosmic mind. For quantum physicists consciousness in a universe is essentially involved in the actuality of that observable universe. But there is one cosmic consciousness that is essentially involved in the actuality of all observable universes. It carries complete information about all possible states and transmits informational code for the construction of this and all possible universes and the consciousness associated with each of them. This principle is called God Almighty, according Keith Ward. Incidentally, the chapter on "God has the ultimate informational principle" by Keith Ward and the introductory part of the book makes some of the best reading.
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on 10 June 2014
Definitely interesting, although a little obscure at times, but worth a read for those searching for THE MEANING OF LIFE. Naturally, you wont get the answer here, but food for thought.
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on 4 October 2014
The most boring book I have tried to read in many years. Am a big fan of Paul Davies but this is a complete turkey. Couldn't finish it and, if you want to read my copy, it is in our local Oxfam shop
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on 29 January 2011
This is not a complete review, more like a warning if you are looking for physics books. There are only two proper physics chapters. Pretty good though. One by Seth Loyd and one by Paul Davies. The rest is fluffy stuff like history, philosophy and even theology!
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