The grandest unification theory of them all got its start in 1948, when two remarkable publications appeared. Claude Shannon's paper ''A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits" and Norbert Wiener's book ''Cybernetics'' brought to the world's attention an idea that had been bubbling beneath the surface for years: information, like matter and energy, can be considered a thing in itself -- a fundamental building block of reality. Ever since, there has been a growing effort to explain the brain, the body, civilization and, most recently, the universe itself as information processors.
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