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Information: The New Language of Science

Information: The New Language of Science

by Hans Christian von BaeyerHans Christian von Baeyer


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Confronting us at every turn, flowing from every imaginable source, information defines our era—and yet what we don't know about it could—and does—fill a book. In this indispensable volume, a primer for the information age, Hans Christian von Baeyer presents a clear description of what information is, how concepts of its measurement, meaning, and transmission evolved, and what its ever-expanding presence portends for the future.

Information is poised to replace matter as the primary stuff of the universe, von Baeyer suggests; it will provide a new basic framework for describing and predicting reality in the twenty-first century. Despite its revolutionary premise, von Baeyer's book is written simply in a straightforward fashion, offering a wonderfully accessible introduction to classical and quantum information. Enlivened with anecdotes from the lives of philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists who have contributed significantly to the field, Information conducts readers from questions of subjectivity inherent in classical information to the blurring of distinctions between computers and what they measure or store in our quantum age. A great advance in our efforts to define and describe the nature of information, the book also marks an important step forward in our ability to exploit information—and, ultimately, to transform the nature of our relationship with the physical universe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674018570
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/30/2005
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 554,668
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Hans Christian von Baeyer is Chancellor Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at the College of William and Mary.

Table of Contents

  • Prologue: Really Big Questions
  • Background

    • 1. Electric Rain: Information in Our Lives
    • 2. The Spell of Democritus: Why Information Will Transform Physics
    • 3. In-Formation: The Roots of the Concept
    • 4. Counting Bits: The Scientific Measure of Information
    • 5. Abstraction: Beyond Concrete Reality
    • 6. The Book of Life: Genetic Information
    • 7. A Battle among Giants: Reductionism and Emergence
    • 8. The Oracle of Copenhagen: Science Is about Information

  • Classical Information

    • 9. Figuring the Odds: How Probability Measures Information
    • 10. Counting Digits: The Ubiquitous Logarithm
    • 11. The Message on the Tombstone: The Meaning of Entropy
    • 12. Randomness: The Flip Side of Information
    • 13. Electric Information: From Morse to Shannon
    • 14. Noise: Nuisance and Necessity
    • 15. Ultimate Speed: The Information Speed Limit
    • 16. Unpacking Information: The Computer in the Service of Physics
    • 17. Bioinformatics: Biology Meets Information Technology
    • 18. Information Is Physical: The Cost of Forgetting

  • Quantum Information

    • 19. The Quantum Gadget: Quantum Weirdness Brought to Light
    • 20. A Game of Beads: The Wonder of Superposition
    • 21. The Qubit: Information in the Quantum Age
    • 22. Quantum Computing: Putting Qubits to Work
    • 23. Black Holes: Where Information Goes to Hide

  • Work in Progress

    • 24. Bits, Bucks, Hits and Nuts: Information beyond Shannon
    • 25. Zeilinger’s Principle: Information at the Root of Reality

  • Notes
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

James Trefil

Hans Christian von Bayer is well known for explaining the complexities of science to the rest of us, and in this book he lives up to his reputation by taking on one of the most difficult concepts around--information. Starting with his characterization of information as a gentle rain that falls on all of our lives, he leads us through a universe in which information is woven like threads in a cloth. Masterful!
James Trefil, Clarence J Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University and co-author of The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

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