How Many Informational Bits Are In The Universe If It is A Gaint Computer Simulation? (Cosmology)

Using Shannon’s equations, Melvin M. Vopson calculated that a proton or neutron should contain the equivalent of 1.509 bits of encoded information. He then derived an estimate for the total number of particles in the observable universe — around 1080, which accords with previous estimates — to determine the total information content of the cosmos. His findings appeared Oct. 19 in the journal AIP Advances.

The information capacity of the universe has been a topic of great debate since the 1970s and continues to stimulate multiple branches of physics research. In his earlier work, Vopson estimated that the visible cosmos may contain approximately 1093 bits of information.

Now, by using Shannon’s information theory he estimated another amount of encoded information in all the visible matter in the universe.

“The number I calculated is smaller than I expected but I am not sure why. It could be that important things were unaccounted for in my calculations, which focused on particles like protons and neutrons but ignored entities like electrons, neutrinos and quarks, because only protons and neutrons can store information about themselves. “

— told Melvin Vopson, a physicist at the University of Portsmouth in England.

He achieved this by deriving a detailed formula estimating the total number of particles in the observable universe, known as the Eddington number, and by estimating the amount of information stored by each particle about itself.

Finally, he determined that each particle in the observable universe contains 1.509 bits of information and there are ∼6 × 1080 bits of information stored in all the matter particles of the observable universe.


For more:

Melvin M. Vopson, “Estimation of the information contained in the visible matter of the universe”, AIP Advances 11, 105317 (2021); https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0064475


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