Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Decoding the Universe: how the new science of information is explaining everything in the cosmos, from our brains to black holes

by Charles Seife

The title is a mouthful, and the book is a brainful. Although the author does a great job of "dumbing it down" for the layperson, it's still pretty heady stuff, so don't bother reading this if words such as cosmology, entropy, and quantum send you into paroxysms of frustrated boredom, or if they trigger your fight-or-flight instinct.

Most people (including me) who hear "information science" are going to think about computers, or maybe libraries. Decoding the Universe reveals the origins of info science in the world of telephony (how many phone calls can you fit on one wire?) and its probable future as the fundament of all other sciences. In the process of coming to understand information as a concrete property of matter and energy, you'll also learn a lot about entropy — it's a lot more than what your high school physics teacher told you.

My personal theory of black holes was enriched by the information found in this book.

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