and for once the reality surpassed the hype.
“What lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a ‘spark of life,’ ” declares the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins. “It is information, words, instructions.… If you want to understand life, don’t think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology.” The cells of an organism are nodes in a richly interwoven communications network, transmitting and receiving, coding and decoding. Evolution itself embodies an ongoing exchange of information between organism and environment.
John Robinson Pierce (the Bell Labs engineer who had come up with the word transistor) mused afterward: “It is hard to picture the world before Shannon as it seemed to those who lived in it. It is difficult to recover innocence, ignorance, and lack of understanding.”