Skip to comments.Are the Laws of the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life?
Posted on 11/15/2018 5:19:25 AM PST by Heartlander
Humans have often looked at the night sky and wondered if there’s anyone else out there. But stare into that darkness long enough, and many wonder instead: how did we get here? What were the odds, in a universe so enormous and chaotic, that humans should have come to exist at all? Is life, let alone intelligent life, such a wildly improbable occurrence that we’re the only ones here? Or are we an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics?
Life exists on Earth (assuming we’re not living in a computer simulation). Therefore, the universe must exist in such a way that we are possible. That’s the essence of the anthropic principle. On the one hand, it sounds tautological. By that, I mean, I’m just saying the same thing twice. But cast another way, it can lead us to important truths about the universe. It means any version of the universe we can fathom has to allow for life to exist at least once. When there are things we don’t understand about the universe — how dark energy works, how the cosmos formed — all our theories have to include the fact that we exist. The universe must allow us.
Some people have taken this anthropic principle theory to extreme ends. It can imply that the universe must favor life, or even life like us, which isn’t exactly the same thing.
And it does seem hard to believe humans exist, given the huge range of paths the universe could have taken. I don’t just mean that the dinosaur-killing asteroid could have hit a few million years later and changed the course of evolution on the planet. A bit more fundamental is the idea that without a moon and its accompanying tides, maybe Earth creatures never would have ventured out of the oceans. But we can dive even deeper. The laws of physics themselves seem perfected just for us.
An old version of this anthropic principle argument involves the Hoyle state, a particular state of a particular type of carbon. If the Hoyle state didn’t exist, stars could not produce the abundance of carbon they do. Carbon is the basic element upon which life is built. If it were scanter in the universe, life wouldn’t exist, down to the simplest microbes. And it wasn’t clear, for a long time, how the Hoyle state worked, just that it must: After all, here we are.
More recently, scientists have pointed out that if one tweaks many of the dimensionless physical constants — numbers like pi that are independent of units and simply exist as fundamental ideas — none of the cosmos we see would exist. One of these numbers is omega, the density parameter, which pits gravity’s pull against the expanding push of dark energy. If gravity were stronger, the universe would have long since ceased expanding, and would have collapsed back down in a reverse Big Bang, often called the “Big Crunch.” If dark energy were stronger, then the universe would race away from itself so that no matter would stick together and stars, planets, and people could never form.
If the cosmos were truly a random and senseless arrangement of particles, it seems eerie or suspicious to many that these two forces balance so delicately.
But we can remember the tautological approach: if the universe were any way other than what it is, we wouldn’t be here to worry about it. Of course the universe seems fine-tuned to us; it’s the only one we know.
This argument in itself gives rise to questions about a multiverse. Are there, then, other universes where the laws of physics don’t allow matter to stick together and form stars and planets, dogs and cats? The anthropic principle doesn’t answer this. We’re left to ponder.
The truth is that right now, we’re drastically short on data. We’ve only stepped foot on two bodies in the whole universe. We’ve only sent probes to a handful more. After that, it’s all just long-distance photography skills and a lot of semi-applied math.
We can ask how often the universe provides the things we think are necessary to life — the Drake equation is a good attempt to quantify this. But even that assumes that life must be somewhat as we know it.
What about inorganic life forms? Scientists have posited chemical reasons for and against life forms that vary too much from what we know on Earth. Maybe the Hoyle state is irrelevant, if other forms of life don’t require carbon anyway. You can get pretty trippy heading down this rabbit hole of questioning. How would we even recognize life so different from us? For that matter, how do we know rocks aren’t sentient, and we’ve just never noticed, so caught up in our carbon chauvinism?
The universe does seem fine-tuned for our existence. The flip side, of course, is that we are unarguably fine-tuned to the universe we find ourselves in.
All coincidence and happenstance.
But I don’t think it’s necessarily just Earth.
..if you believe you can place watch parts in a box, shake it up and open it to find a perfectly assembled watch
We are not living in a computer simulation. A completely stupid idea.
And no, there are no other universes, and there is no multiverse. It’s easy to say scientific sounding names, but they have no substance behind them.
Other than that, the article is profoundly significant.
We’re here because we’re here.
It’s not the life but the consciousness that baffles me.
I admit that I’m a carbon chauvinist.
And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
Maybe you meant to put a sarcasm tag in there, but I have another reason.
He made it all. He wanted us go forth and multiply. He told Abraham his progeny would be like the stars in Heaven, like the sand grains on the beach.
Over billions of years, He made it all, for us.
Check out the Participatory Anthropic Principle:
Participatory Anthropic Principle
Wheeler speculated that reality is created by observers in the universe. “How does something arise from nothing?”, he asked about the existence of space and time. He also coined the term “Participatory Anthropic Principle” (PAP), a version of a Strong Anthropic Principle.
In 1990, Wheeler suggested that information is fundamental to the physics of the universe. According to this “it from bit” doctrine, all things physical are information-theoretic in origin.
Wheeler: It from bit. Otherwise put, every it every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely even if in some contexts indirectly from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom a very deep bottom, in most instances an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe.
In developing the Participatory Anthropic Principle (PAP), an interpretation of quantum mechanics, Wheeler used a variant on Twenty Questions, called Negative Twenty Questions, to show how the questions we choose to ask about the universe may dictate the answers we get. In this variant, the respondent does not choose or decide upon any particular or definite object beforehand, but only on a pattern of “Yes” or “No” answers. This variant requires the respondent to provide a consistent set of answers to successive questions, so that each answer can be viewed as logically compatible with all the previous answers. In this way, successive questions narrow the options until the questioner settles upon a definite object. Wheeler’s theory was that, in an analogous manner, consciousness may play some role in bringing the universe into existence.
From a transcript of a radio interview on “The Anthropic Universe”:
Wheeler: We are participators in bringing into being not only the near and here but the far away and long ago. We are in this sense, participators in bringing about something of the universe in the distant past and if we have one explanation for what’s happening in the distant past why should we need more?
Martin Redfern: Many don’t agree with John Wheeler, but if he’s right then we and presumably other conscious observers throughout the universe, are the creators or at least the minds that make the universe manifest
To answer the headline, yes. They have to be. There really is little room for variance in the conditions for life to exist. This level of genius of design reveals a Creator.
I used to think, when I was little, I could move stuff ever so slightly with my mind. I couldnt. This hypothesis seems to be a more complex form of that.
Life? Water should baffle you. Human beings are simply not capable of comprehending the miracle of existence. There are ubiquitous particles called helium and hydrogen atoms that miraculously combine to create the essential element of life. This is where the discussion should begin.
Philosophy is the study of truth. Science was a subset of philosophy. Now science is divorced from philosophy and makes no sense............................
Wheeler is one of physic’s heroes. He was a true out of the box thinker.
Epistemology has been around for a long time. I think the old timers would laugh at this theory. They at least recognized there was a truth....................
consciousness may play some role in bringing the universe into existence.
dippy doodle, pretzel logic thinking, out of the box thinking that takes you nowhere.
Bing for later read
Hint: The lack of philosophy, of which logic is a subset.
Or if you can eat a feast and deny the existence of a chef.
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