Reversing the telescope is an amazing process to provide the viewer (that’s you) with something they have never seen before. Yes it happens. We happen to be talking about telescopes…so that is a good place to start.
You see, the first telescopes with the magnifying lens had an inherent problem. NOISE. It causes distortion and things are fuzzy. Photons don’t like going through glass, I guess. The bigger the glass of the lens the more NOISE and DISTORTION and the longer the telescope has to be. But, change the lens to a mirror (not intuitive) and shape the mirror to focus the light on a point and you have a CLEAR and UNDISTORTED image of something far away. Just brilliant! But how does it happen? Why does it happen? Why doesn’t it happen more often?
For the simple reason that most everyone believes that a lens is the best tool around and the industry of lens makers and the lens lobbyists and the lens tax breaks all make us want to buy a lens. Call it scientific momentum or maybe it is just greed. Every tool has a value we just shouldn’t stop looking for better tools.
We are information gatherers. Just as man gazes at the stars dreaming about the possibility of an inhabitable planet or studies the Higgs-Boson particle we seem to be gathering information. We have a genetic disposition to gathering. (food, valuables, information) Along the way, we find we can turn information into bits (by accident) and that has a lot of benefits. We can build machines that use bits to do work (calculations) (thank you Alan Turing) and do it much faster than we (humans) can. We can also convert most anything we see (images, pages, objects) into bits. Reversing the process (converting bits into atoms) is much more difficult, but many are working on that. Using certain machines to do more accelerates many times mans ability to store and manage information and create. But, then we get to the tipping point. Just as with the first Telescopes our computer-based digital society has too much NOISE and DISTORTION. (I believe that is where we are today)
So, we think we need a bigger lens (in this analogy it is the database) to see more clearly the information we are gathering. The bigger database in this case just keeps adding more NOISE and DISTORTION and the more we have the worse it gets.
A fundamental change is needed. We need to change the method of collecting, storing, managing the information (the database) and get a clearer image of the information we are trying to see. We need “Little Data…just lots of it” ™ to sharpen the image.
Entropy in information processing is like a photon’s mass….almost nothing. Energy is spent when we delete information but not when we collect or process it. The information must exist before the thing it describes can exist. “It from bit” is the famous phrase and eloquently explains that information is like gravity, a force unseen that comes with everything around us.