Some physicists claim information is the fifth state of matter. By 2245, half of Earth’s mass could be converted to digital bits.
All the matter that surrounds us exists either as a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma. But as our lives become increasingly digitized, more and more physical matter, such as oil, silicon, and carbon, is required to sustain our insatiable need for more computing power and information processing.
Giving current trends of 50% annual growth in the number of digital bits produced, Melvin Vopson, a physicist at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, forecasted that the number of bits would equal the number of atoms on Earth in approximately 150 years. By 2245, half of Earth’s mass would be converted to digital information mass, according to a study published today in AIP Advances.
It’s just a matter of time before digital bits outnumber all the atoms on Earth, a future in which the world is converted into a planetary-sized supercomputer — and all of this leads to an enticing theory: that information is no different from ordinary matter.
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