Does Information Carry Mass?

If information carries mass, could it be the dark matter physicists are craving?

The existence of dark energy and dark matter was inferred in order to correctly predict the expansion of the universe and the rotational velocity of galaxies. In this view, dark energy could be the source of the centrifugal force expanding the universe (it is what accounts for the Hubble constant in the leading theories), while dark matter could be the centripetal force (an additional gravity source) necessary to stabilize galaxies and clusters of galaxies, since there isn’t enough ordinary mass to keep them together. Among other hypotheses, dark energy and dark matter are believed to be related to the vacuum fluctuations, and huge efforts have been devoted to detecting it. The fact that no evidence has yet been found calls for a change of perspective that could be due to information theory.

How could we measure the mass of information?
Dr. Melvin Vopson, of the University of Portsmouth, has a hypothesis he calls the mass-energy-information equivalence. It extends the already existing information-energy equivalence by proposing information has mass. Initial works on Shannon’s classical information theory, its applications to quantum mechanics by Dr. Wheeler, and Landauer’s principle predicting that erasing one bit of information would release a tiny amount of heat, connect information to energy. Therefore, through Einstein’s equivalence between mass and energy, information – once created – has mass. The figure below depicts the extended equivalence principle.

In order to find the mass of digital information, one would start with an empty data storage device, measuring its total mass with a highly sensitive device. Once the information is recorded in the device, its mass is measured again. The next step is to erase one file and measure again. The limiting step is the fact that such an ultra-sensitive device doesn’t exist yet. In his paper published in the journal AIP Advances, Vopson proposes that this device could be in the form of an interferometer similar to LIGO, or a weighing machine like a Kibble balance. In the same paper, Vopson describes the mathematical basis for the mechanism and physics by which information acquires mass, and formulates this powerful principle, proposing a possible experiment to test it.

In regard to dark matter, Vopson says that his estimate of the ‘information bit content’ of the universe is very close to the number of bits of information that the visible universe would contain to make up all the missing dark matter, as estimated by M.P. Gough and published in 2008,.

This idea is synchronistic with the recent discovery that sound carries mass (, i.e., phonons are massive.

Vopson is applying for a grant in order to design and build the measurement device and perform the experiments. We are so looking forward to his results!

RSF in perspective

Both dark matter and dark energy have been inferred as a consequence of neglecting spin in the structure of space-time. In the frame of the Generalized Holographic approach, spin is the natural source of centrifugal and centripetal force that emerges from the gradient density across scales, just as a hurricane emerges due to pressure and temperature gradients. The vacuum energy of empty space – the classical or cosmological vacuum – has been estimated to be 10−9 joules per cubic meter. However, vacuum energy density at quantum scale is 10113joules per cubic meter. Such a discrepancy of 122 orders of magnitude difference in vacuum densities between micro and cosmological scales is known as the vacuum catastrophe. This extremely large density gradient in the Planck field originates spin at all scales.

Additionally, the holographic model explains mass as an emergent property of an information transfer potential between the information-energy stored in a confined volume and the information-energy in the surface or boundary of that volume, with respect to the size or volume of a bit of information. Each bit of information-energy voxelating the surface and volume is spinning at an extremely fast speed. Space is composed of these voxels, named Planck Spherical Units (PSU), which are a quanta of action. The expressed or unfolded portion of the whole information is what we call mass. For more details on how the holographic approach explains dark mass and dark energy, please see our RSF article on the Vacuum Catastrophe (

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Can humans travel through wormholes in space?

Two new studies examine ways we could engineer human wormhole travel.

Imagine if we could cut paths through the vastness of space to make a network of tunnels linking distant stars somewhat like subway stations here on Earth? The tunnels are what physicists call wormholes, strange funnel-like folds in the very fabric of spacetime that would be—if they exist—major shortcuts for interstellar travel. You can visualize it in two dimensions like this: Take a piece of paper and bend it in the middle so that it makes a U shape. If an imaginary flat little bug wants to go from one side to the other, it needs to slide along the paper. Or, if there were a bridge between the two sides of the paper the bug could go straight between them, a much shorter path. Since we live in three dimensions, the entrances to the wormholes would be more like spheres than holes, connected by a four-dimensional “tube.” It’s much easier to write the equations than to visualize this! Amazingly, because the theory of general relativity links space and time into a four-dimensional spacetime, wormholes could, in principle, connect distant points in space, or in time, or both.

The idea of wormholes is not new. Its origins reach back to 1935 (and even earlier), when Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen published a paper constructing what became known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge. (The name ‘wormhole’ came up later, in a 1957 paper by Charles Misner and John Wheeler, Wheeler also being the one who coined the term ‘black hole.’) Basically, an Einstein-Rosen bridge is a connection between two distant points of the universe or possibly even different universes through a tunnel that goes into a black hole. Exciting as the possibility is, the throats of such bridges are notoriously unstable and any object with mass that ventures through it would cause it to collapse upon itself almost immediately, closing the connection. To force the wormholes to stay open, one would need to add a kind of exotic matter that has both negative energy density and pressure—not something that is known in the universe. (Interestingly, negative pressure is not as crazy as it seems; dark energy, the fuel that is currently accelerating the cosmic expansion, does it exactly because it has negative pressure. But negative energy density is a whole other story.)

If wormholes exist, if they have wide mouths, and if they can be kept open (three big but not impossible ifs) then it’s conceivable that we could travel through them to faraway spots in the universe. Arthur C. Clarke used them in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, where the alien intelligences had constructed a network of intersecting tunnels they used as we use the subway. Carl Sagan used them in “Contact” so that humans could confirm the existence of intelligent ETs. “Interstellar” uses them so that we can try to find another home for our species.

If wormholes exist, if they have wide mouths, and if they can be kept open (three big but not impossible ifs) then it’s conceivable that we could travel through them to faraway spots in the universe.

Two recent papers try to get around some of these issues. Jose Luis Blázquez-Salcedo, Christian Knoll, and Eugen Radu use normal matter with electric charge to stabilize the wormhole, but the resulting throat is still of submicroscopic width, so not useful for human travel. It is also hard to justify net electric charges in black hole solutions as they tend to get neutralized by surrounding matter, similar to how we get shocked with static electricity in dry weather. Juan Maldacena and Alexey Milekhin’s paper is titled ‘Humanly Traversable Wormholes’, thus raising the stakes right off the bat. However, they are open to admitting that “in this paper, we revisit the question [of humanly traversable wormholes] and we engage in some ‘science fiction.’” The first ingredient is the existence of some kind of matter (the “dark sector”) that only interacts with normal matter (stars, us, frogs) through gravity. Another point is that to support the passage of human-size travelers, the model needs to exist in five dimensions, thus one extra space dimension. When all is set up, the wormhole connects two black holes with a magnetic field running through it. And the whole thing needs to spin to keep it stable, and completely isolated from particles that may fall into it compromising its design. Oh yes, and extremely low temperature as well, even better at absolute zero, an unattainable limit in practice.

Maldacena and Milekhins’ paper is an amazing tour through the power of speculative theoretical physics. They are the first to admit that the object they construct is very implausible and have no idea how it could be formed in nature. In their defense, pushing the limits (or beyond the limits) of understanding is what we need to expand the frontiers of knowledge. For those who dream of humanly traversable wormholes, let’s hope that more realistic solutions would become viable in the future, even if not the near future. Or maybe aliens that have built them will tell us how.

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Researchers announce photon-phonon breakthrough

New research by a City College of New York team has uncovered a novel way to combine two different states of matter. For one of the first times, topological photons—light—has been combined with lattice vibrations, also known as phonons, to manipulate their propagation in a robust and controllable way. 

The study utilized topological photonics, an emergent direction in photonics which leverages fundamental ideas of the mathematical field of topology about conserved quantities—topological invariants—that remain constant when altering parts of a geometric object under continuous deformations. One of the simplest examples of such invariants is number of holes, which, for instance, makes donut and mug equivalent from the topological point of view. The topological properties endow photons with helicity, when photons spin as they propagate, leading to unique and unexpected characteristics, such as robustness to defects and unidirectional propagation along interfaces between topologically distinct materials. Thanks to interactions with vibrations in crystals, these helical photons can then be used to channel infrared light along with vibrations. 

The implications of this work are broad, in particular allowing researchers to advance Raman spectroscopy, which is used to determine vibrational modes of molecules. The research also holds promise for vibrational spectroscopy—also known as infrared spectroscopy—which measures the interaction of infrared radiation with matter through absorption, emission, or reflection. This can then be utilized to study and identify and characterize chemical substances.

«We coupled helical photons with lattice vibrations in hexagonal boron nitride, creating a new hybrid matter referred to as phonon-polaritons,» said Alexander Khanikaev, lead author and physicist with affiliation in CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering. «It is half light and half vibrations. Since infrared light and lattice vibrations are associated with heat, we created new channels for propagation of light and heat together. Typically, lattice vibrations are very hard to control, and guiding them around defects and sharp corners was impossible before.»

The new methodology can also implement directional radiative heat transfer, a form of energy transfer during which heat is dissipated through electromagnetic waves. 

«We can create channels of arbitrary shape for this form of hybrid light and matter excitations to be guided along within a two-dimensional material we created,» added Dr. Sriram Guddala, postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Khanikaev’s group and the first author of the manuscript. «This method also allows us to switch the direction of propagation of vibrations along these channels, forward or backward, simply by switching polarizations handedness of the incident laser beam. Interestingly, as the phonon-polaritons propagate, the vibrations also rotate along with the electric field. This is an entirely novel way of guiding and rotating lattice vibrations, which also makes them helical.»

Entitled «Topological phonon-polariton funneling in midinfrared metasurfaces,» the study appears in the journal Science. 

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The ‘X17’ particle: Scientists may have discovered the fifth force of nature

A new paper suggests that the mysterious X17 subatomic particle is indicative of a fifth force of nature.

Physicists have long known of four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. 

Now, they might have evidence of a fifth force. 

The discovery of a fifth force of nature could help explain the mystery of dark matter, which is proposed to make up around 85 percent of the universe’s mass. It could also pave the way for a unified fifth force theory, one that joins together electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces as «manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force,» as theoretical physicist Jonathan Feng put it in 2016.

The new findings build upon a study published in 2016 that offered the first hint of a fifth force.

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Aqua-Fi: Underwater WiFi developed using LEDs and lasers

Aquatic internet that sends data through light beams could enable divers to instantly transmit footage from under the sea to the surface.

The internet is an indispensable communication tool, connecting tens of billions of devices worldwide, and yet we struggle to connect to the web from under water. «People from both academia and industry want to monitor and explore underwater environments in detail,» explains the first author, Basem Shihada. Wireless internet under the sea would enable divers to talk without hand signals and send live data to the surface.

Underwater communication is possible with radio, acoustic and visible light signals. However, radio can only carry data over short distances, while acoustic signals support long distances, but with a very limited data rate. Visible light can travel far and carry lots of data, but the narrow light beams require a clear line of sight between the transmitters and receivers.

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Filmada por primera vez la observación cuántica

La naturaleza duda antes de que el gato de Schrödinger aparezca vivo a muerto.

Los científicos han filmado lo que pasa cuando un observador se asoma al mundo cuántico: las dos probabilidades superpuestas dudan en el momento de elegir entre la vida y la muerte del gato, antes de que Schrödinger abra la caja.

Ion de estroncio atrapado en un campo eléctrico. La medición en el ion dura solo una millonésima de segundo… ¡y ha sido filmada! Crédito: F. Pokorny et al.
Un equipo de investigadores de Suecia, Alemania y España (Universidad de Sevilla) ha conseguido por primera vez filmar lo que pasa cuando un observador se asoma al mundo cuántico.

Es como decir, metafóricamente, que una cámara ha grabado el momento en el que Schrödinger destapa la caja y encuentra al gato vivo o muerto.

Según un ejemplo imaginado por el físico Erwin Schrödinger en 1935, si tenemos un gato dentro de una caja en la que hay alimento y veneno, el dueño del gato es el que decide su suerte al abrir la caja: estará vivo o muerto según lo que el observador quiera encontrar.

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The Kinetic energy form a single raindrop can enlight 100 small led bulbs







A single raindrop can now power 100 small LED light bulbs, effectively setting a new milestone for energy-harvesting technologies, scientists have reported.

The droplet-based electricity generator has a high energy-conversion efficiency and power density thousand times bigger than its counterparts.

The developers hope the tech will help to tackle the world energy crisis by providing new ways of making use of the environmental energy around us in water and rain.

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