Okay, that's a fascinating idea.
There's no shortage of debate about the nature of dark matter, a mysterious substance that many physicists believe makes up a large proportion of the total mass of the universe, in spite of never having observed it directly.
Now, a physicist from the UK named Melvin Vopson is raising a startling possibility: that dark matter might be information itself.
"He even claims that information could be the elusive dark matter that makes up almost a third of the universe," reads a press release from the University of Portsmouth, where Vopson is a researcher.
"If we assume that information is physical and has mass, and that elementary particles have a DNA of information about themselves, how can we prove it?" Vopson asked in the release. "My latest paper is about putting these theories to the test so they can be taken seriously by the scientific community."
The paper, published in the journal AIP Advances, suggests an experiment that could test the hypothesis that information is a distinct state of matter — alongside solids, liquids, gases and plasmas — by using a particle-antiparticle collision to, in theory, "erase" information from the universe.
"We know that when you collide a particle of matter with a particle of antimatter, they annihilate each other," Vopson said in the release. "And the information from the particle has to go somewhere when it’s annihilated."
There are countless theories about dark matter — including, it's worth pointing out, that it doesn't exist at all — so while Vopson's idea is provocative, it's best to withhold judgment until he actually manages to test his hypothesis.
But, for what it's worth, he seems pretty compelled by the concept.
"It doesn’t contradict quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics or classical mechanics," he said in the release. "All it does is complement physics with something new and incredibly exciting."
More on dark matter: Scientist Says Dark Matter Could Likely Be Incredible Fuel for Spacecraft
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