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**These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"**

In the 1990s
another interpretation of quantum mechanics has been put forth by the Austrian
physicist Anton Zeilinger. He set out to
find a fundamental principle that would explain the three odd features of the
quantum world: · quantization
(all fundamental physical quantities come in discrete amounts), · randomness (we
can only know the probability of an event) and · entanglement
(everything is connected, no matter how far objects are). He proposed a very simple principle: each elementary system,
called "qubit" (e.g., the spin of the electron), carries one and only
one bit of information; two systems carry two and only two bits of information;
and so forth. After all, our
physical description of the world is represented by propositions, and each
proposition can be true or false, i.e. each elementary system carries one and
only one bit of information. The consequences
of this principle are simple to derive: · I can't know two
things about an electron, but only one thing at a time (uncertainty),
everything has to be quantized because the unit of information is the bit
(yes/no, or one/zero); · Two systems
carry exactly two bits of information, which means that they are entangled
forever (if one changes, the other one has to change too in order to still
yield two bits of information). · Schroedinger's equation can be derived as the
description of motion in a three-dimensional information space. Zeilinger's interpretation, therefore, is that only information truly exists and that quantum mechanics is simply a theory of how information behaves in this world. The No-Cloning Theorem Another weird consequence of Quantum Mechanics is that it contradicts Darwinian evolution. Eugene Wigner noticed that the biological phenomenon of self-replication (by which life reproduces itself on this planet) contradicted the principles of quantum mechanics ("The Probability of the Existence of a Self-Reproducing Unit", 1961). Quantum Mechanics prohibits cloning. This fact was proven in more general terms by the Italian physicist GianCarlo Ghirardi ("On Some Recent Suggestions of Superluminal Communication", 1979), a theorem that was later rediscovered by the US physicists Bill Wotters and Wojciech Zurek ("A Single Quantum Cannot be Cloned", 1982). Nick Herbert had proposed a quantum machine capable of making many exact copies of any state of a quantum system. Their "no-cloning theorem" instead shows that this is impossible. The no-cloning theorem has an application in computer science in the form of quantum encryption.Back to the beginning of the chapter "The New Physics" | Back to the index of all chapters |