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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Laplace Demon

"We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes."

If we imagine the exercise as purely mental, involving only the idea of such knowledge, we can see the Laplace's demon as a secular substitute for an omniscient God with perfect foreknowledge.
Laplace's view implies that the past and the present always contain exactly the same knowledge. This makes information a constant of nature. Indeed, some mathematicians think that information is a conserved quantity, like the conservation of mass and energy.

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