Site icon Carolyn Hill


“We can see now that information is what our world runs on: the blood and the fuel, the vital principle. It pervades the sciences from top to bottom, transforming every branch of knowledge. Information theory began as a bridge from mathematics to electrical engineering and from there to computing. What English speakers call ‘computer science’ Europeans have known as informatique, informatica, and Informatik. Now even biology has become an information science, a subject of messages, instructions, and code. Genes encapsulate information and enable procedures for reading it in and writing it out. Life spreads by networking. The body itself is an information processor. Memory resides not just in brains but in every cell. No wonder genetics bloomed along with information theory. DNA is the quintessential information molecule, the most advanced message processor at the cellular level–an alphabet and a code, 6 billion bits to form a human being. ‘What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a “spark of life,”‘ declares the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins. ‘It is information, words, instructions . . . . If you want to understand life, don’t think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology.’ The cells of an organism are nodes in a richly interwoven communications network, transmitting and receiving, coding and decoding. Evolution itself embodies an ongoing exchange of information between organism and environment.”

–James Gleick. The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. New York: Pantheon Books, 2011. Quote on pages 8-9.

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