A newly-devised experiment is seeking to prove the existence of a fifth state of matter. In a paper published this week in the journal AIP Advances, Dr Melvin Vopson from the University of Portsmouth says that information is the fifth state, and outlines a method to test this claim.
The four established states of matter are solid, liquid, gas, and plasma – yet Vopson has spent the last few years arguing that information is a physical entity and should therefore be considered a state of matter in its own right. He first proposed this so-called mass-energy-information equivalence principle back in 2019, before publishing a paper in 2021 which calculated the mass of information contained within all visible matter in the universe.
Combining his theoretical findings into a unified hypothesis called the information conjectures, Vopson says that all elementary particles store physical information about themselves, in much the same way as the genome of a living organism is encoded in its DNA. To prove this, however, one would need to invent a method by which this information can be physically detected.
“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?” asked Vopson in a statement. “My latest paper is about putting these theories to the test so they can be taken seriously by the scientific community.”
According to Vopson’s calculations, the amount of information in an electron is 22 million times smaller than the mass of the particle itself. The only way to detect such a minute quantity of matter, he says, is by erasing it.
This means removing that particle from existence, which can be achieved via a “matter–antimatter annihilation reaction”, whereby a collision between an electron and a positron results in their “mutual annihilation.”
“We know that when you collide a particle of matter with a particle of antimatter, they annihilate each other. And the information from the particle has to go somewhere when it’s annihilated,” says Vopson. According to his theory, this information should be released in the form of two low-energy infrared photons.
Based on the author’s calculations, the wavelength of these two photons should measure roughly 50 micrometers when this annihilation reaction is performed at room temperature. The detection of these photons, he says, would prove the existence of information in physical form within the two annihilated particles.
“This would be a eureka moment because it would change physics as we know it and expand our understanding of the universe. But it wouldn’t conflict with any of the existing laws of physics,” he says.
Vopson insists that such an experiment is easily achievable using currently available technologies, and recommends using radioactive sodium isotopes to generate the necessary positrons.
“The successful detection of the information energy photons… will confirm both information conjectures,” he concludes, adding that such a finding would also verify “the existence of information as the fifth state of matter in the universe.”