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Another, no less crucial, question relates to apparent arbitrariness of selection process. All "parts" of a superposition constitute potential collapse events and, therefore, can, in principle, be measured. Why is only one event measured in any given measurement? How is it "selected" to be collapse event? Why does it retain a privileged status versus measurement apparatus or act?
It seems that preferred states have to do with inexorable process of increase in overall amount of order in Universe. If other states were to have been selected, order would have diminished. The proof is again in pudding: order does increase all time Ė therefore, measurable collapse events and pointer states tend to increase order. There is a process of negative, order-orientated, selection: collapse events and states which tend to increase entropy are filtered out and statistically "avoided". They are measured less.
There seems to be a guiding principle (that of statistical increase of order in Universe). This guiding principle cannot be communicated to quantum systems with each and every measurement because such communication would have to be superluminal. The only logical conclusion is that all information relevant to decrease of entropy and to increase of order in Universe is stored in each and every part of Universe, no matter how minuscule and how fundamental.
It is safe to assume that, very much like in living organisms, all relevant information regarding preferred (order-favoring) quantum states is stored in a kind of Physical DNA (PDNA). The unfolding of this PDNA takes place in physical world, during interactions between physical systems (one of which is measurement apparatus).
The Biological DNA contains all information about living organism and is replicated trillions of times over, stored in basic units of organism, cell. What reason is there to assume that nature deviated from this (very pragmatic) principle in other realms of existence? Why not repeat this winning design in quarks?
The Biological variant of DNA requires a biochemical context (environment) to translate itself into an organism Ė an environment made up of amino acids, etc. The PDNA probably also requires some type of context: physical world as revealed through act of measurement.
The information stored in physical particle is structural because order has to do with structure. Very much like a fractal (or a hologram), every particle reflects whole Universe accurately and same laws of nature apply to both. Consider startling similarities between formalisms and laws that pertain to subatomic particles and black holes.
Moreover, distinction between functional (operational) and structural information is superfluous and artificial. There is a magnitude bias here: being creatures of macrocosm, form and function look to us distinct. But if we accept that "function" is merely what we call an increase in order then distinction is cancelled because only way to measure increase in order is structurally. We measure functioning (=the increase in order) using structural methods (the alignment or arrangement of instruments).
Still, information contained in each particle should encompass, at least, relevant (close, non-negligible and non-cancelable) parts of Universe. This is a tremendous amount of data. How is it stored in tiny corpuscles?
Either utilizing methods and processes which we are far even from guessing Ė or else relevant information is infinitesimally (almost vanishingly) small.
The extent of necessary information contained in each and every physical particle could be somehow linked to (even equal to) number of possible quantum states, to superposition itself, or to collapse event. It may well be that whole Universe can be adequately encompassed in an unbelievably minute, negligibly tiny, amount of data which is incorporated in those quantum supercomputers that today, for lack of better understanding, we call "particles".
Our Universe can be mathematically described as a "matched" or PLL filter whose properties let through collapsed outcomes of wave functions (when measured) - or "signal". The rest of superposition (or other "Universes" in a Multiverse) can be represented as "noise". Our Universe, therefore, enhances signal-to-noise ratio through acts of measurement (a generalization of anthropic principle).
Ollivier H., Poulin D. & Zurek W. H. Phys. Rev. Lett., 93. 220401 (2004). Zurek W. H. Arxiv, Preprint http://www.arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0105127 (2004).
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.