I am reading a book called I am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstader that explores the concept of "I" or the self. What does it mean to say "I", where does "I" come from and so on. Fascinating and highly readable.
In the book, Hofstader quotes another scientist Roger Sperry as having written in an essay titled Mind, Brain and Humanist Values the following passage:
In the brain model proposed here, the causal potency of an idea, or an ideal, becomes just as real as that of a molecule, a cell, or a nerve impulse. Ideas cause ideas and help evolve new ideas. They interact with each other and with other mental forces in the same brain [and] in [other] brains. And they also interact with the external surroundings to produce [...] a burstwise advance in evolution.
Now, this reminded me of a thought I had a couple of weeks ago: does information obey the first law of thermodynamics? The first law of thermodynamics states that "energy can be transformed, i.e. changed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed". Does this apply to ideas too? If so, does this mean that every idea that has ever been or shall ever be already exists in some form? Does that then mean that "new" ideas are simply the discovery of existing ideas and/or the uncovering of ideas via logical extensions of already recognised ideas? For that matter, is information the same as energy?
On the other hand, while the notion of extending existing ideas to generate new idea may be true for purely "algorithmic" reasoning, how could we then explain seemingly blue-sky creativity? Also, if we take it as a given that ideas aren't merely invented abstractions with no physical basis, aren't "massless" and arise from biochemistry, then what is the literal fuel for a new idea? Is there an equation that is the equivalent of or an extension of E=MC2 which incorporates a variable representing information?
I'm sure none of these questions are new, so enlightenment, or at least a discussion, would be appreciated! My trawls through Wikipedia uncovered useful-looking articles like Entropy in thermodynamics and information theory, but my knowledge of even high-school level physics is shaky at best and deeply suspect at worst. :-) Landauer's Principle might be what I'm looking for if I could just decipher it.