Digital content on track to equal half Earth’s mass by 2245

If verified, the mass-energy-information equivalence principle will show that information is a physical, dominant, fifth state of matter, and digital bits will outnumber atoms on Earth — it’s just a matter of time.



WASHINGTON, August 11, 2020 — As we use resources, such as coal, oil, natural gas, copper, silicon and aluminum, to power massive computer farms and process digital information, our technological progress is redistributing Earth’s matter from physical atoms to digital information — the fifth state of matter, alongside liquid, solid, gas and plasma.

Eventually, we will reach a point of full saturation, a period in our evolution in which digital bits will outnumber atoms on Earth, a world “mostly computer simulated and dominated by digital bits and computer code,” according to an article published in AIP Advances, by AIP Publishing.

It is just a matter of time.

“We are literally changing the planet bit by bit, and it is an invisible crisis,” author Melvin Vopson said.

Vopson examines the factors driving this digital evolution. He said the impending limit on the number of bits, the energy to produce them, and the distribution of physical and digital mass will overwhelm the planet soon.

For example, using current data storage densities, the number of bits produced per year and the size of a bit compared to the size of an atom, at a rate of 50% annual growth, the number of bits would equal the number of atoms on Earth in approximately 150 years.

It would be approximately 130 years until the power needed to sustain digital information creation would equal all the power currently produced on planet Earth, and by 2245, half of Earth’s mass would be converted to digital information mass.

“The growth of digital information seems truly unstoppable,” Vopson said. “According to IBM and other big data research sources, 90% of the world’s data today has been created in the last 10 years alone. In some ways, the current COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this process as more digital content is used and produced than ever before.”

Vopson draws on the mass-energy equivalence in Einstein’s theory of general relativity; the work of Rolf Landauer, who applied the laws of thermodynamics to information; and the work of Claude Shannon, the inventor of the digital bit.

In 2019, Vopson formulated a principle that postulates that information moves between states of mass and energy just like other matter.

“The mass-energy-information equivalence principle builds on these concepts and opens up a huge range of new physics, especially in cosmology,” he said. “When one brings information content into existing physical theories, it is almost like an extra dimension to everything in physics.”


The article, “The information catastrophe,” is authored by Melvin M. Vopson. The article will appear in AIP Advances on Aug. 11, 2020 (DOI: 10.1063/5.0019941). After that date, it can be accessed at THE JOURNAL

AIP Advances is an open access journal publishing in all areas of physical sciences–applied, theoretical, and experimental. The inclusive scope of AIP Advances makes it an essential outlet for scientists across the physical sciences. See

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Franz Dullaart
August 16, 2020 6:10 am

In 1905 everyone believed New Your would by buried in horse manure within a short time. This scare has now morphed into death by digits. I’m really, really scared now. Really.

Steve Case
Reply to  Franz Dullaart
August 16, 2020 6:35 am

Ha ha I just posted nearly that same thing because Word Press or whatever slows WUWT comments down to a crawl showed no comments two minutes ago.

Reply to  Franz Dullaart
August 16, 2020 7:59 am

There is one digit I could extend to show what I think of this idea.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Richard
August 16, 2020 8:37 am

Decimal “4” if one uses the fingers of their hand as powers-of-two place holders.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 4:16 pm

Now see! Why you got to complicate thangs! Thangs get complicated enough without you helpin’. Dag nab-it!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  2hotel9
August 16, 2020 7:41 pm

Four! 🙂

August 16, 2020 6:11 am

Vopson has failed to account for anti-information, which in the case of the internet far outweighs the mass of information.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  damp
August 16, 2020 7:13 am

I liked that, …… the mass of anti-information being provided by the internet and the liberal lefty MSM will always far outweighs the mass of factual information.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  damp
August 16, 2020 7:30 am

Twitter alone cancels out all of the positive information accumulated since the beginning of history.

Reply to  damp
August 16, 2020 8:19 am

He also failed to account for the fact that storing information requires at least 1 atom per bit. Even the densest SSD’s require 1000’s of atoms per stored bit and that’s just for microns thick active layer of the silicon. Add packaging, power supplies, etc. and we’re up to trillions of atoms per bit. Big numbers seem to abstract for the author to grok the differences between them. As a math professor of mine once said “There’s an infinite infinitude of infinities”.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 16, 2020 8:52 am

You said, “… storing information requires at least 1 atom per bit.” I thought about that for a moment and initially came to the same conclusion. However, if one uses just the outer electrons of a large atom, i.e. the valence state, then a single atom of carbon could hold nominally 8 bits of information. That could be increased by using electron spin to code the number of bits.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 9:09 am

Carbon has 4 valence electrons. The other 4 are shared with other carbon atoms. The problem would be differentiating between the different electrons. While we think of the electrons in each shell as being discrete. Once electrons are in a shell, you really can’t distinguish between them.

You could perhaps use different energized states of a molecule like CO2 to distinguish bits, but the higher the energy of these states, the more volatile it becomes and owing to spontaneous emissions relaxing it to lower states, it would need to be refreshed at a very high rate to insure against data loss. As soon as the power goes away, so do the stored bits.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 16, 2020 12:23 pm

“Carbon has 4 valence electrons. The other 4 are shared with other carbon atoms.”

Starting with your send sentence, what you are saying here is in several instances wrong or confusing as to what you are trying to communiicate.
For those who may be reading who do not have much or any background in these subjects (chemistry and atomic physics), I want to give some general info:

Hold on a second there…you seem to be implying that a carbon atom has 8 electrons.
Carbon in the neutral state has only six electrons.
Two are in the innermost “shell”, and are not ordinarily considered available for chemical interactions…they are shielded by the second shell.
The innermost electron shell is called the K shell.
It can hold at most two electrons.
Next is the L shell, which can hold as many as 8 electrons.
Carbon has four in this shell.
The outermost shell in an atom is what is called the “valence shell”.
The electrons in this shell are called the valence electrons.
The term orbital is itself was coined as a sort of shorthand, by Robert Mulliken, short for “one-electron orbital wave function”.
In molecular orbital theory, electrons in a molecule are shared between atoms, and form covalent bonds by forming pairs of electrons.
The most energetically stable form for an atom or molecule is to have the outermost shell, the valence shell, filled.
This theory does a very good job of explaining the propensity of atoms to form molecules with other atoms, as well as the properties of those molecules.
It explains which atoms can form bonds with other atoms, how readily it can do so, and with how many other atoms it can form a bond with.

So carbon has four electrons in it’s valence shell, with space for four more, so it can readily bond with as many as four valence electrons from other atoms.
Also very important is the concept of electronegativity, which is partly a function of the ability of the electrons in at atom (or molecule) to “shield” the positive charge in the nucleus.
Full valence shells shield the nucleus the most effectively.
Larger atoms have a larger positive charge to be shielded, and so electronegativity tends to decrease is one descends down the periodic table.
The periodic table itself is arranged the way it is because of electron shells and how they are filled.
Electronegativity increases as a valence shell is filled, but decreases for atoms (and molecules) with full shells
Basically, electronegativity is a measure of the propensity for an atom to be able to form bonds, and how strong those bonds will be. The higher the electronegativity is, the more able an atomic (or molecular) species is to “grab” electrons from other atoms and this form a bond.
Highly electronegative atoms and molecules can grab electrons, and thus the atoms they are associated with, away from atoms and molecules that are less electronegative.
Species with full valence shells are the most stable, and the least electronegative, and thus hardest to disrupt, and hence the least reactive.
Electronegativity is closely correlated with atomic radius. As this radius decreases, the ionization energy of that species increases, and so does electronegativity.

Also, note that shells and orbitals do not coincide as one progresses to heavier atoms.
There are “subshells” as well, as can be seen by noting that the 3rd period atoms number 8, while the third shell can hold 18 electrons.

Anyway, before going off on too much of a tangent, I wanted to point out that the four valence electrons in carbon ARE the ones which are or can be shared to form bonds with other atoms in a molecule.
The valence electrons can form bonds with other atoms, not just carbon.

I am not going to comment on the latter parts of your comment, because I do not know what you are trying to say, but most of it seems to not make a ton of sense to me.
Just sayin’.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 16, 2020 1:09 pm


An electron shared between atoms could represent at most 1 bit, not 1 bit per atom it’s shared among. Carbon is also a semiconductor, so it’s outer electrons are not bound to specific atoms anyway, so a different element needs to be identified as the potential storage atom. An inert gas might be a better choice, but that brings up a whole other set of issues.

DNA is as dense as nature has found for storing information by organizing atoms and this is a lot less than 1 bit per atom, especially when considering redundancy. Relative to atoms per bit of storage, modern SSD chips are already within striking range of DNA. What they’re doing now to increase the capacities of SSD’s is to stack multiple storage cells on top of each other on the same chip.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 9:11 am

Right theory but the problem is you need to somehow hold the atom orientation and the electric field is much more difficult to interact with at the atomic level. That is why when IBM did the demonstration of 1 bit per atom storage in 2017 they used the magnetic field.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 10:48 am

Clyde, there is this:
“In condensed matter physics, a Cooper pair or BCS pair is a pair of electrons (or other fermions) bound together at low temperatures in a certain manner first described in 1956 by American physicist Leon Cooper. Cooper showed that an arbitrarily small attraction between electrons in a metal can cause a paired state of electrons to have a lower energy than the Fermi energy, which implies that the pair is bound. In conventional superconductors, this attraction is due to the electron–phonon interaction. The Cooper pair state is responsible for superconductivity, as described in the BCS theory developed by John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and John Schrieffer for which they shared the 1972 Nobel Prize . . . Electrons have spin of ± 1⁄2, so they are fermions, but the total spin of a Cooper pair is integer (0 or 1) so it is a composite boson.”—source:

Therefore, it appears that a superconducting material could (theoretically) have its free electrons that exist as Cooper pairs (composite bosons) “programmed” to be in either the stable total spin “0” state or the stable total spin “1” state.

I will leave it to you as to how best to do the “writing” of information into this superconducting information storage system, and likewise how best to do the “reading” of such stored information.

Yes, we can share the patent, the royalties, and resulting Nobel prize for this invention.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 11:54 am

I’m sure there’s something raysis in there, just can’t figure out what.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 12:04 pm

I’m not ready to do the patent thing again. I was just trying to point out that there may be ways to encode information at higher densities than 1 bit per atom (presence or absence of an atom). The Devil is always in the details.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 12:29 pm

Everything from Pythagoras on down is raciss.
By the time we get to Newton, it is pert near white supremacy, nearin as I kin figure.

“…science must be “done away with entirely” and “start over again.”

After all, it completely fails to explain witchcraft, and such practices as smiting one’s enemies by calling down a lightning bolt.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 12:32 pm

Decolonize your mind!

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 12:43 pm

“Therefore, it appears that a superconducting material could (theoretically) have its free electrons that exist as Cooper pairs (composite bosons) “programmed” to be in either the stable total spin “0” state or the stable total spin “1” state.”

Be all that as it may, the question raised by Clyde becomes a question of how exactly one can create and maintain the state of such information, for example how to create the superconducting temperatures, magnetic fields, etc, to say nothing of the means of storing and retrieving any information contained therein?
IOW…besides for the strictly logical and theoretical question, is there any conceivable practical basis for supposing we can store more bits of information than we have atoms with which to create the means to store them?
I think at some point, someone may have to break it to Vopson that he is not as smart or as thoughtful as he apparently considers himself to be.
At the very least, he appears oblivious to this thing called entropy.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 2:42 pm

Nicholas, the point is that if we can access electrons that exist in the unfilled valence band(s) of metals—perhaps even the electrons in the filled valence bands for superconducting metals—each Cooper pair of those may be able to store one bit of information. If we at looked at Group 14 elements in the Periodic Table, there is the metal lead (Pb) with 82 electrons, four of which are in the valence band. Lead has one of the highest temperatures for an elemental metal transitioning to a superconducting state, 7.2 K.

So, for at least this example, a single lead atom could theoretically store two bits of information assuming the use of Cooper pairs available from its unfilled valence band.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 1:57 pm

Clyde, the avg specific gravity of the earth is close to that of germanium ~5.3. 50% of the mass of the earths crust is oxygen and of the the whole earth is 37%. 98% of the crust are common elements (Si, Al, Fe, Mg, Ca, K, Na and all the rest are in the 2% remaining), the heaviest element in this tally is iron making up 5%. Fe, O, Si, and Mg make up 93% of the whole earth.

We won’t have available in quantity and price the heavier elements to manufacture our bits.

This goofy idea has to come from a professor. I loved my professors, Bless their hearts, but truly thank God for engineers and economic geologists which, in a realistic world the latter would be considered part of the engineering field. The availability of the earth’s mass to convert to bits mass isnt exploitable. And what about the real mass that is proton and neutrons. QED.

Note also that he sees this as a crisis! So far there is no sign that humankind essentially is a crisis manufacturing creature. We are problem solvers. We have quadrupled our lifespan in a couple of centuries. We are erasing poverty at an accelerating rate, greening the planet for our fellow other creatures, travelling to the stars, … That this precious physicist can even contemplate such nonsense wouldn’t have been possible a generation ago. Is he our first Malthusian physicist?

Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 16, 2020 3:14 pm

Compression, in many cases, greatly reduces the number of storage bit. This may be to zero loss of information, to noticeable loss, or to loss that is undetectable for the intended use of the information.

Storage, in general, requires no energy to maintain, only to created or access.

Reply to  AndyHce
August 16, 2020 9:15 pm

This reminds me of the sci-fi story (can’t remember the title) where invading aliens come to earth; quickly gather all the information ever generated on this earth; and record all that information as one mark on their continuous analog unit stick, whose digits in the decimal expansion of its offset from zero encoded all that information. Then they destroyed the earth and went on to do the same at the next inhabited planet — or something like that.

Steve Keppel-Jones
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
August 19, 2020 10:47 am

That reminds me of another sci-fi story where the protagonists on a starship need to encode information compactly for radio transmission, so they write out the Gödel number of the message they want to send, then encode that number as a sum of a handful of carefully chosen integers raised to the power of other carefully chosen integers. The implication was that an arbitrarily complex message could be encoded with no more than a handful of medium-sized integers this way, and there seems to be something wrong with that, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what 🙂

Reply to  Steve Keppel-Jones
August 19, 2020 3:02 pm

I have found that just communicating directly works far better. “Hey motherf*cker! They are turning your left flank” See?

Michael Hammer
Reply to  damp
August 16, 2020 8:14 pm

hey, what happens if anti information is brought into contact with information? Do the two annihilate each other with the release of ?????

Bill P.
August 16, 2020 6:18 am

The human capacity to invent new, never before heard-of “crises” seems to be growing beyond all bounds.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Bill P.
August 16, 2020 8:29 am

Only EurekAlert! could push crap like this.

Mumbles McGuirck
August 16, 2020 6:23 am

So there IS a Planet B!

August 16, 2020 6:25 am

As a start to addressing this crisis, today I’m going through my laptop and start deleting files I don’t need.

Reply to  rbabcock
August 16, 2020 8:03 am

I’ve noticed my hard drive gets more weighty as 0’s are changed to 1’s….eventually I used to have to buy a bigger hard drive, but now I just put those strings of 0’s and 1’s on “the cloud”, which means on someone else’s computer eventually gets heavier instead of mine.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  DMacKenzie
August 16, 2020 8:54 am

Do thoughts weigh heavy on a thinker?

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 10:00 am

…only if digitized!

Krishna Gans
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 10:25 am

If I look at the Thinker by Rodin I would say, yes thoughts weigh heavy on him 😀
Just my impression. Depends certainely on what he is thinking about 😀

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 16, 2020 11:55 am

Is he next to the Venus De Milo?

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 16, 2020 2:48 pm

It looks like he’s thinking “where can I get prunes at this time of night?”

August 16, 2020 6:26 am

No doubt the guy’s an intellectual mask debater.

Steve Case
August 16, 2020 6:33 am

And New York should have been buried in horse manure by a decade or so ago. Didn’t happen.

EdA the New Yorker
Reply to  Steve Case
August 16, 2020 9:04 am

Cuomo is striving mightily to remedy the deficit. Give him a few more months.

The Doctor
August 16, 2020 6:39 am

We will just build a planet composed of Memory Bits next to our own to compensate. As long as we’re dealing in futurist fairy tales like this one.

John M
August 16, 2020 6:41 am

“If present trends continue…”

Maybe he should call his scenario e-RCP 8.5.

August 16, 2020 6:41 am

Eventually, we will reach a point of full saturation, a period in our evolution in which digital bits will outnumber atoms on Earth

Some people should just accept they’re fiction writers.

Rich Davis
Reply to  TimTheToolMan
August 16, 2020 8:30 am

Or dipshits

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Rich Davis
August 16, 2020 10:51 am

Or Bitshits.

dirty dave 54
August 16, 2020 6:44 am

Since that outcome is obviously absurd, something else will happen, and the projected outcome will no longer hold.

So, what is it that will happen to change the outcome?

Reply to  dirty dave 54
August 16, 2020 8:23 am


August 16, 2020 6:46 am

So, just another fake crisis to gin up another wave of hysteria. Got it. I actually thought this may have been something serious, oh well.

August 16, 2020 6:55 am

“It would be approximately 130 years until the power needed to sustain digital information creation would equal all the power currently produced on planet Earth, and by 2245, half of Earth’s mass would be converted to digital information mass.”

So don’t have it on Earth, put it in Earth orbit- where there is unlimited access to electrical power.

George V
Reply to  gbaikie
August 16, 2020 7:54 am

Call it “The Final Encyclopedia”!!
(gratuitous sci-fi reference to Gordon Dickinson novel of that name, in which a massive complex in Earth orbit contained all of human knowledge.)

Reply to  George V
August 16, 2020 11:53 am

George V – Why are we worrying about all this information storage when we already know that the final answer to life, the universe and everything is 42.

Reply to  gbaikie
August 16, 2020 8:29 am

The power needed to run a computer has been falling, even as the amount of memory in those computers has been rising.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  MarkW
August 16, 2020 12:50 pm

You would make a terrible catastrophist!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  gbaikie
August 16, 2020 8:58 am

You suggested, “put it in Earth orbit.”
So, instead of referring to is as the “Cloud” it could be called the “Or-bit.”

david g
August 16, 2020 6:56 am

Uh oh. What if there are an unequal number of zeros and ones?
We cannot allow such an injustice to occur. Affirmative action for binary states.
This problem will only get worse, unless we convince our leaders to implement protctions using regulations and taxes. The models prove it.

Reply to  david g
August 16, 2020 9:21 am

The erased byte on media is usually 0xFF so a blank disk starts as all 1’s which would be the normal or privileged state. So zero would be the victim state so clearly we need a Zero State matters (ZSM) movement.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  david g
August 16, 2020 10:51 am

david g, are you really an advocate for BLM . . . as in, “Bit Lives Matter”?

Carbon Bigfoot
August 16, 2020 6:57 am

Melvin’s mind is an afterbirth of a Mongolian gang bang.

August 16, 2020 6:59 am

We have conservation of mass. If we convert mass to energy, in theory we can convert it back to the same amount of mass.

So, the mass of the Earth and everything on it is pretty much constant. If solar energy is converted to mass, the effect is trivial. Cosmic dust doesn’t contribute much.

If half the mass of the Earth is data by 2045, that means half the Earth must be missing somewhere. Could it be converted to data?

Digital content on track to equal half Earth’s mass by 2245

The headline is ridiculous. I didn’t bother to read further.

August 16, 2020 7:05 am

WOOW, more scientific magic.
How many atoms to store a bit?

Reply to  Glenn Thompson
August 16, 2020 7:41 am

This is way beyond my pay grade but, they’re talking about using electron spin to store data. link Does that mean you could store more than one bit in an atom? I have no clue. I do suspect that, in terms of memory density at least, Moore’s law will live on for a very long time. ie. One bit per atom is a long way in the future.

Reply to  commieBob
August 16, 2020 8:42 am
Reply to  commieBob
August 16, 2020 9:05 am

Should add a proper qubit per atom was done last year again by IBM.

Gary Wescom
August 16, 2020 7:06 am

This is entirely wrong. Once socialism takes over, all historical information will be deleted. This has been shown in recent history, specifically in the Soviet Union. It is no different from the destroying of statues happening now. So the data buildup problem will never occur.

Bob boder
Reply to  Gary Wescom
August 16, 2020 7:42 am

A as Nd with out the US as a counter balance the world will spiral in to a North Korea like waste land

August 16, 2020 7:11 am

Always the same. Nothing is going to change over the centuries to some people. Everything is zero sum set in stone.

August 16, 2020 7:14 am

Why am I reminded of this quote by Mark Twain:

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

Bob boder
Reply to  Severian
August 16, 2020 7:44 am

Brought a true smile to my face.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Bob boder
August 16, 2020 11:53 am

Same here.

Krishna Gans
August 16, 2020 7:21 am

I just imgine the size of the cloud, full with data, turning around earth, maybe once darkening solar panels 😀

Reply to  Krishna Gans
August 16, 2020 10:04 am

…seeded that heavily, wouldn’t the cloud begin to rain?

Krishna Gans
Reply to  RockyRoad
August 16, 2020 10:15 am

A raining data cloud, why not, new 😀
Has to be considerd in the future, as question of data security 😀

Kevin kilty
August 16, 2020 7:51 am

I have no doubt the study is correct, if one accepts the premise that all this information must be stored indefinitely. It obviously requires mass to manufacture the physical ability to store a bit of information. However, once the materials best able to store information, and the auxiliary materials to effect this manufacture, begin to diminish in supply, the cost to store will rise and put a damper on the party.

In the one million top priorities of worries, this one ranks about 999,999.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Kevin kilty
August 16, 2020 12:00 pm

All of the data (and computers) I used from 1988 till about 10 years ago are gone.

david g
August 16, 2020 7:51 am

Perhaps Prof Vopson meant it as a prank.

Gonna need a pretty good internet connection to download it all to my PC.

Reply to  david g
August 16, 2020 8:34 am

Obviously a prank. If there were to be as many bits stored on media than atoms of the earth, there would have to be a way of storing more than one bit per atom of the media (how?), or a way of storing data on simply everything on or in the earth.

Reply to  John Allman
August 16, 2020 9:31 am

You can encode multiple bits per atom you have electric and magnetic spins. The atomic storage of 1 bit per atom was done by IBM using only the magnetic spin.

The problem is you use magnetic direction to encode. The hint is a 0 state has a magnetic direction as does 1 and the choice is purely randomly assigned by the media and media reader. Even if you chose to encode the direction randomly it still has a state just meaningless to the magnetic reader.

Reply to  LdB
August 20, 2020 1:33 pm

My notifications of comments here have been mistaken for spam, so I’ve only just found them.
I wrote to Vopson asking if his paper was a prank and he replied that it wasn’t.
He’s asked me to do some reading.

Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
August 16, 2020 7:58 am

If I define informaton in a crazy way … and I make stupid assumptions … then compound it by even more crazy assumptions … and then demand the government pay me a wage … then I too could prove anything I like and I too would be an academic.

Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
August 16, 2020 9:33 am

Yep you got it in one he hasn’t got a clue what quantum information actually means.

Pat from kerbob
August 16, 2020 8:02 am

The story and the comments ignore the real issue

Digital bits (e currency, the massive data farms required by tech like farcebook, twatter, google, Amazon, net flicks etc etc etc) are what are mainly driving increased power generation at least in the first world
And this cannot be intermittent and so is fossil fuel based regardless of greenwashing claims

The groups on the forefront of climate change blather are some of the biggest contributors of CO2, if that somehow turns out to be a problem

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
August 16, 2020 12:03 pm

I say we combine those names and call the whole conglomeration as TwitGooFace.

August 16, 2020 8:10 am

He just discovered teleportation. The beam me up kind.

Climate believer
August 16, 2020 8:15 am

I’m sick to my back teeth of catastrophe at the moment Melvin, thanks anyway.

Ed Fix
August 16, 2020 8:24 am

This reminds me of the guy from the Society for the Conservation of Gravity. He picketed and protested the construction of tall buildings. He figured elevators use up too much gravity.

August 16, 2020 8:38 am

To put this in perspective, there’s about 10^40 CO2 molecules in the atmosphere. The current amount of information on the planet is about 60 Zetabytes or about 10^24 bits. As of today, there are 10^16 atmospheric CO2 molecules per bit of stored information. We will run out of information long before we run out of atoms to store it.

There’s something very wrong with the calculation of the equivalent mass energy of information. What’s he doing, multiplying bits by c^2? Even that’s not enough.

How does something like this get past per review? I guess it’s the same way so many junk climate science papers get published.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 16, 2020 3:35 pm

Clearly, a lot of that coming information will be produced by people like the author of this piece. Possible fictions must be a high order of infinity.

Jimmy Haigh
August 16, 2020 8:43 am

What? You mean that CV-19 won’t kill us all first?

August 16, 2020 8:44 am

Vopson would have got an F in Quantum Mechanics and he is a crackpot.

In Quantum Mechanics you can not create nor destroy a quantum state, it is called the no hiding theorem. It was theoretically proved in 2007 and experimentally confirmed experimentally in 2011.
So when encoding you are simply changing the quantum states of the media it doesn’t get heavier.
The actual weight of a storage media has already been done but for a different reason and you can detect thermal changes from the write process

August 16, 2020 8:49 am

Mass and energy are not equivalent. This is just Einstein’s fluff talk. Who takes it serious?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Zoe Phin
August 16, 2020 9:05 am

Thanks for adding levity to a heavy subject.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 16, 2020 11:07 am

I see what you did there!

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Zoe Phin
August 16, 2020 9:13 am

Your bait is stale.

Reply to  Zoe Phin
August 16, 2020 9:32 am

Everyone but you obviously.

Reply to  LdB
August 16, 2020 10:21 am


Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Zoe Phin
August 16, 2020 11:06 am

If well established scientific principles can be dismissed as “fluff talk”, what should we call the nonsensical and inconsistent ramblings and babbling of an uninformed crank?

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
August 16, 2020 4:23 pm

You mean well-established fluff talk.
How is it a principle?


If m and e are “equivalent” then you can just swap them out for each other …


As you can see there is no science in Einstein’s fluff talk … it’s just mumbo jumbo, but too many men are cowards to admit it.

So many sheepish cowards …

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Zoe Phin
August 16, 2020 9:12 pm

So you flunked grade school algebra as well?
Obviously you are trolling.
It is literally impossible to be as stupid as you claim to be with this last comment.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
August 16, 2020 10:49 pm


She is Maths and physics illiterate but feels qualified to explain how the world works 🙂

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
August 17, 2020 2:55 am

Greta, is it you?

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
August 17, 2020 7:38 pm

Obviously you can’t think for yourself.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Zoe Phin
August 16, 2020 11:10 am

“Who takes it serious?”
Probably very few people who do not know what an adverb is.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
August 16, 2020 12:09 pm

Really? 🙂

It doesn't add up...
August 16, 2020 8:58 am

Another example of what passes for modelling these days. Fortunately the author will have disappeared up his own orifice before he discovers that his projection is simply impossible, and is therefore wrong. Is he doing perpetual motion machines next week?

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
August 16, 2020 11:22 am

“Fortunately the author will have disappeared up his own orifice…”
His problem is obvious.

August 16, 2020 9:27 am

I’m not worried about the article.

I know that when I dream my mind is quantum entangled and transferred to a server farm near the centre of the galaxy.

There is plenty of server space there still available, we can just outsource as our information here on earth piles up. They won’t take tiktok data though, the sagitarons had to draw the line somewhere.

August 16, 2020 9:51 am

Regardless of the (im)plausibility of the physics behind the article, simple economics tells us that the cost of stored information will increase as it approaches anything like planet-gobbling size.

Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 10:18 am

First, the above article sounds very much like a do-over the the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth” study and alarmist book. This study—as is the case with the above article and its claims—was fatally flawed by projecting that an early exponential curve will continue unchanged into the future. Just look at the figure given in the above article!

In reality, exponential curves representative of physical parameters ALWAYS end over time, generally transforming into S-shaped curves having an asymptotic limit, due to both negative feedback effects and the introduction of new, unconsidered factors (e.g., new technology, new drugs, new sources of necessary resources, etc.). Prime case in point: look at what happened to all exponential curves related to the “peak oil” meme.

Second, from the above article: “. . . the work of Claude Shannon, the inventor of the digital bit.” Incredibly dumb, and wrong!

The concept of the coexistence of a mathematical “0” and a mathematical “1” was held long before Claude Shannon was even conceived (b. April 30, 1916). So did the concept of physical, switchable devices having two states (e.g., a telegraph key, an electric light switch, a on-off fluid valve); reference “binary devices”. The telegraph (demonstrated practically for first time in May, 1884) used the basic concept of electrical “bits” for communication. Claude Shannon is correctly recognized as being “the father of information theory”, which is nothing like being “inventor of the digital bit”.

Lastly, at the bottom of the above article: The article, “The information catastrophe,” is authored by Melvin M. Vopson. The article will appear in AIP Advances on Aug. 11, 2020 (DOI: 10.1063/5.0019941). From this I can conclude (a) that Mr. Vopson has a lot to learn, and (b) that AIP Advances must not have any serious editorial review—let alone peer-review—of what it publishes.

August 16, 2020 10:47 am

Does Melvin Vopson realize that it takes numerous atoms to manufacture a memory gate capable of storing a bit?

Nicholas McGinley
August 16, 2020 10:52 am

How could bits of information outnumber the atoms which store that information?
Just as a concept, this seems to make as much sense as saying that there are more grains of sand on Earth than molecules.

Nicholas McGinley
August 16, 2020 10:56 am

My calculations on the growth of the population of cats indicate that there will soon be more cats on Earth that all of the atoms in the biosphere.

August 16, 2020 11:01 am

Is it April first already?

August 16, 2020 12:08 pm

Oh dear… Since it takes more than one atom to store a bit of information thats really gonna stretch them server farms!

August 16, 2020 12:16 pm


Of all the lunatic researches…
What is this? The modern equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Some background:

“Mass, in physics, quantitative measure of inertia, a fundamental property of all matter.”

Weight, i.e. weight of the Earth is based upon measuring gravity:

“It turns out that the rate at which an object accelerates due to the force of gravity, called “g,” depends of the mass of the object doing the pulling. In the case of Earth, we have:

hurl your scale out the window, and count how many seconds it takes to hit the sidewalk. Then measure the distance from your window to the ground, and you can compute the acceleration of the scale. The answer you will get is 9.8 m s-2. Knowing this value of g for Earth’s surface, along with the constant G and the 6,731-kilometer distance to Earth’s center, you can then calculate Earth’s mass to be 6 x 1024 kilograms.”

Vopson then goes on to compare “bit” informational storage as equivalent to atoms.
Utterly ignoring how many atoms of material are required to ‘store’ “bits” of information.

This is where it becomes evident that this armchair researcher is gobsmacked by the use of words like gigabyte, terabyte, petabyte, exabyte, etc.
This lack of information storage knowledge coupled with gross ignorance about atomic physics and comparative mass versus atoms estimates.

“By international agreement the standard unit of mass, with which the masses of all other objects are compared, is a platinum-iridium cylinder of one kilogram. This unit is commonly called the International Prototype Kilogram and is kept at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sèvres, France.”

That is, a cylinder of platinum-iridium as measured on the surface in Sèvres, France determines Vopson’s basis for Earth’s estimate of atoms.

Reply to  ATheoK
August 16, 2020 12:49 pm

“hurl your scale out the window, and count how many seconds it takes to hit the sidewalk. Then measure the distance from your window to the ground, and you can compute the acceleration of the scale”
This is false.
You cannot compute acceleration with a measure of distance and time. You can compute velocity with distance and time, but you need distance and time squared to measure acceleration.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  William Teach
August 16, 2020 1:20 pm

???? wow!!!
the assumptions being that acceleration is constant and Vz(t=0) is zero.
Someone needs to study some very basic mechanics.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  William Teach
August 16, 2020 9:09 pm

“You cannot compute acceleration with a measure of distance and time. You can compute velocity with distance and time, but you need distance and time squared to measure acceleration.”

So, you have distance and you know time, but you are unable to determine time squared?
Is this a joke?
Besides, unless one is on a different planet, the acceleration due to gravity is known.
The part that is unknown is friction with/resistance from the air.
Lateral motion is irrelevant.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  ATheoK
August 16, 2020 12:52 pm

He also seems oblivious to friction with air, i.e. wind resistance.
My scale is made of feathers.

August 16, 2020 12:39 pm

Does this mean we are doomed ?
How can we fight “an invisible crisis” ?
Can Gritter Thumpbug see “an invisible crisis” ?
We must rely on our glorious leaders to save us & lead us to the promised land (it will be expensive)

John Dilks
August 16, 2020 2:19 pm

I have only one word for this. BULLSHI*.
This is just another fool extrapolating into absurdity to create another false crisis.

Andy Espersen
August 16, 2020 3:57 pm

Reading all of or (I must be honest, some of) the above information (or misinformation, malinformation, fake information, useless information, irrelevant information, etc.), the thought that comes to my mind is, “How many angels can dance on the point of a needle?”

Reply to  Andy Espersen
August 16, 2020 4:01 pm

Yep, pin heads got lots of dance floor space compared to the other end.

Joe G
August 16, 2020 5:03 pm

There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who do not. 🙂

sky king
August 16, 2020 8:54 pm

“We are literally changing the planet bit by bit, and it is an invisible crisis,” author Melvin Vopson said.

Maybe somebody can invent a delete key!

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  sky king
August 17, 2020 9:40 am

Not enough use of the Trash Can or Recycle Bin, obviously.

August 16, 2020 9:52 pm

That’s nothin’, man. We have reliable information that the number of genders is infinitely more than the number of atoms in the known universe, and is still growing exponentially.

The gender-multiplication phenomenon has given rise to ground-breaking research funded by the Gates Foundation to develop a trans-galactic post-quantum supercomputer based on rapid gender-switching engines.

August 16, 2020 10:22 pm

You don’t change the number of atoms when you store information.

You only relocate or change the properties.

They are NOT converted to mass. !

Haruto Rat
August 16, 2020 11:14 pm

This seems to be a less coherent rehash of Stanislaw Lem’s “Professor A. Dońda” (1973).

I highly recommend that short story, by the way.

August 17, 2020 4:15 am

The error is in the misconception of data and information being something accumulative. Information processing is a selective data-sifting process. Most data accumulated will never be used again after going once or maybe some more through this interpretive processing. It may pile up somewhere and slowly rot away. Call it “book-burning by nature” “the second law of thermodynamics” or whatever. It just happens. The big data companies of today are the hoarding idiots of tomorrow. What a relieve.

August 17, 2020 9:04 am

What about all the stuff that is erased, deleted, or overwritten?

Besides there is no proof Einstein’s equation is two way.

August 17, 2020 9:59 am

Just delete all the porn, we should be good for 5 or 6 hundred years after that ;0)

August 17, 2020 1:52 pm

One simple consideration will pop this little balloon. It is not possible to determine wether a string of bits represent data or are random. You cannot make this distinction from the bits alone. You need to have knowledge of the encoding system that was used if at all.
This also means that all of the media that will ever be used to store data is already there, in whatever form.
So there is no trasnformation from something to datastorage medium going on.

David Blenkinsop
August 17, 2020 7:26 pm

Maybe fantasy writer Terry Pratchett has the answer.

How about this, from Terry Pratchett’s novel ‘Thief of Time’,

“For something to exist, it has to be observed.
For something to exist, it has to have a position in time and space.
And this explains why nine-tenths of the mass of the universe is unaccounted for.
Nine-tenths of the universe is the knowledge of the position and direction of everything in the other tenth. Every atom has its biography, every star its file, every chemical exchange its equivalent of the inspector with a clipboard. It is unaccounted for because it is doing the accounting for the rest of it, and you cannot see the back of your own head.”
Nine-tenths of the universe, in fact, is paperwork.”

Reply to  David Blenkinsop
August 17, 2020 7:50 pm

Heh heh

Jeff Id
August 18, 2020 3:39 am

If you factor in the exponential deletion of truth or conservative thought, we can flatten the curve.
August 18, 2020 6:43 am

The gist the discussion seems to be that we have no idea what “information” is. Information has to have some sort of structure in order to encode the info. This means that it has lower entropy than the encoded info and that info is spontaneously degrading as entropy increases.

The brief quote from “Thief of time” may well be right. The “dark matter” in the universe is the “book keeping” records of what we don’t know about the universe (it is a he!! of a lot). It also begs the question about what dark matter is actually is and how it can interact with the “real” matter that we know.

We may have reached the limits already. Quite a few climate scientists agree that the climate on earth is so complex it would take a conventional computer greater than the size of the universe to calculate and predict the climate on earth.y

Daryl M
August 18, 2020 7:08 pm

It’s not April 1st. Is this article from The Onion?

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