There’s no difference between the analogue and digital world! 

How does our analogue everyday world actually differ from the virtual world in computers? Is there any difference at all? And what role does the latest revolution in the computer world – the quantum computer – play in this? Georg Gesek, CEO of Novarion and lecturer in Quantum Mechanics, gets to the bottom of these questions in the following guest article.

Analogue vs. digital – really a difference?

IT experts often refer to their profession by talking about our “analogue” everyday world and distinguishing it from the “digital” or even virtual world in their computers. We know the virtual world, we have made it, in the final analysis, out of bits. It is irrelevant in which physical machine these are stored and processed (changed). The bits make the “music”, their arrangement, their pattern alone determines which “digital world” is generated in this machine, called a computer.

What about our real world?

This is a question that mankind has been pursuing long before there were computers on earth. For a long time, the secrets of the universe remained closed to people because they lacked the technology to get to the bottom of them.

However, this has changed fundamentally in the course of the 20th century. We have reached the limits of what can be measured with our fine measuring instruments in both the macrocosm and the microcosm. Not because our measuring instruments are still too insensitive, no, but because nature itself, i.e. our universe, also has its limit in the density of information it is capable of providing.

Where is the limit of information density?

But you have to let that melt on the tip of your tongue: The physicist Werner Heisenberg showed that the “picture”, i.e. the sum of our measurement results, simply becomes blurred if we “look” too closely. Just as we know it from a computer graphic into which we zoom in further and further. In both cases, this blurring does not occur because we do not have sufficient screen resolution or measurement sharpness, but simply because the number of stored bits that produce the image through a process is limited.

The greater the number of bits, the higher the resolution and the deeper you can zoom into the image. In our virtual worlds in the computer, these are magnifications of about the factors five to ten, which are sufficient to perceive the blur effect.

In our everyday world, it is orders of magnitude of 10^34!

Regardless of the immense difference in size, however, the fact remains that even our real world obviously has a limit in the information density of its components. And the smaller these components are, the less information they contain.

Conclusion: analogue and digital only differ in their information density

The so-called analogue world is in reality just as digital as the virtual world in our computers. It is just much denser in its information. Quantum physics shows us this and at the same time gives us the mathematical tools to calculate this “quantum information”. It is precisely this fact that we have recently been making use of by means of so-called quantum computers, machines that can store and process these quantum bits of our universe – but in the way we want!

With quantum computers, we are therefore breaking down the apparent difference between our “analogue” reality and the virtual “digital” world. In fact, this difference is merely the amount of information, which is much higher in reality than in our (quantum) computers.