What Is Information?

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Gerard ’t Hooft

Gerardus ’t Hooft was born on July 5, 1946, Den Helder, the Netherlands. When he received his doctorate in theoretical physics in 1972 at Utrecht University on "The Renormalization Procedure for Yang-Mills Fields", this work would later earn him, together with his advisor Martinus Veltman, the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics.

What is information? While it is a good question, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard ’t Hooft thinks it misses a fundamental point. Instead of asking about the physical world as we currently understand it, one should ask how it came to be that way in the first place and how it evolves with time. To solve this problem, ’t Hooft suspects scientists will have to look beyond quantum physics—to a “pre-quantum theory”—and into a level of reality in which information in a three-dimensional world is lost beneath a two-dimensional veneer.

More videos from this series: A Thin Sheet of Reality

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.