Here is a (tricky) story that in an unexpected way links Google search machine to theoretical physics, and in particular to news and media, for isn’t journalism somewhat of a search problem of physical events?
The first phrase of Google’s corporate and Company Overview is:….”Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”…see here.
In his blog (August 2007) Benwhalter tries to answer just how much information is Google organizing?…..”A googol (Google’s namesake), is a number that is a one followed by 100 zeros”…”in scientific notation: 1.0e+100 bits (or 1 times 10 raised to the power 100).”…Benwhalter compare a google to 4.8771e+80 bits, the total information ever contained on Earth, and quite obviously, a googol is 20 orders of magnitudes greater(100-80) than earth can ever contain. He conclude that merely containing all the information on Earth is just a tiny fraction of Google’s eventual plans.
To evaluate Google’s plans Benwhalter calculate a lower and upper limit.
A lower limit for Google’s plan is the surface area of the entire solar system: 1.0527e+95 bits, still 5 orders of magnitude below a googol.(100-95) An upper limit for Google’s plans is the surface area of the entire galaxy: 6.6993e+110 bits, only 10 orders of magnitudes above a googol (110-100). So Google wants to organize somewhere between an entire solar system and an entire galaxy, see here
But Scott Aaronson, an assistant professor at MIT, focusing on the limits of quantum computers, (31 August 2007)…ask in a talk held at at Google Cambridge about “What Google Won’t Find.”…. …”what have we learned over the last 15 years or so about the ultimate physical limits of search — whether it’s search of a physical database like Google’s, or of the more abstract space of solutions to a combinatorial problem?”, see here….
And a few paragraphs latter he says….”As it turns out, this question takes us straight into some of the frontier issues in theoretical physics. In particular, one of the few things physicists think they know about quantum gravity — one of the few things both the string theorists and their critics largely agree on — is that, at the so-called “Planck scale” of about 10 -33 centimeters or 10-43 seconds, our usual notions of space and time are going to break down. As one manifestation of this, if you tried to build a clock that ticked more than about 1043 times per second, that clock would use so much energy that it would collapse to a black hole . Ditto for a computer that performed more than about 1043 operations per second, or for a hard disk that stored more than about 1069 bits per square meter of surface area. (Together with the finiteness of the speed of light and the exponential expansion of the universe, this implies that, contrary to what you might have thought, there is a fundamental physical limit on how much disk space Gmail will ever be able to offer its subscribers…), see here (at the concluding paragraph).
This means that if we approach the quantum scale and Google wants nevertheless to store All the information, then in a paraphrase on “Thou shalt not eat of the Tree of Knowledge” (Genesis), if you want to eat the whole Tree, think it over, it is better for you to remain infinitely hungry than to collapse with Google into a black hole.