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Astrophysicist: Fine tuning of the universe as a true mystery of science

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A Fortunate Universe From astrophysicist Geraint F. Lewis at Cosmos:

For more than 400 years, physicists treated the universe like a machine, taking it apart to see how it ticks. The surprise is it turns out to have remarkably few parts: just leptons and quarks and four fundamental forces to glue them together.

But those few parts are exquisitely machined. If we tinker with their settings, even slightly, the universe as we know it would cease to exist. Science now faces the question of why the universe appears to have been “fine-tuned” to allow the appearance of complex life, a question that has some potentially uncomfortable answers.

Oh, not to worry. “Evolution” bred a sense of reality out of us and – assuming we were able to understand an explanation – the multiverse would bury the question in infinities of flopped universes. Right?

Lewis is not certain. He writes,

To some, the picture of the multiverse is comforting, naturally explaining the puzzle of our own fine-tuning. But at present, we have no idea whether this immense sea of universes exists, and they may always be beyond the reach of experiment and observation; if this is the case, is the multiverse more philosophical musing than robust science?

The fine-tuning of our universe for life represents a true mystery of science, a mystery that appears to point to something profound lying at the heart of science. We may never find out why we are living in a “just right” universe, but if we ever do, the universe, and our place in it, will be changed forever. More.

“Just right” universe will change our position forever? Actually, our position is changed already if we think that we can evaluate the evidence and decide to choose evidence over speculation. We don’t know where we will end up but we will find ourselves in traditional science company.

Lewis and Luke Barnes have written a book, A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos

See also: Multiverse cosmology at your fingertips

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9 Replies to “Astrophysicist: Fine tuning of the universe as a true mystery of science

  1. 1
    chris haynes says:

    Dr Lewis’s understanding of the concept of Fine Tuning appears to be, at best, flawed.

    He correctly states about Fine Tuning that “If we tinker with their settings, even slightly, the universe as we know it would cease to exist”

    In this regard the “Cosmological Constant”, (which is better called the “Vacuum Energy”, and is given in BTU’s per gallon of vacuum) is indeed Fine Tuned. That means that if the vacuum energy were just slightly different, there would be no stars, no galaxies, no planets, and no us.

    But when D Lewis discusses the value of the vacuum energy, he is NOT giving an example of Fine Tuning.
    He correctly states: “Our quantum mechanical equations predict an immense (vacuum energy). But what we measure is just a minuscule amount: 10^120 times less than predicted. ”

    An error of 10^120 is certainly not a “slight” difference. Therefore it is not an example of Fine Tuning. Instead, the colossal error in the prediction shows that, somehow, “our quantum mechanical equations” are wrong.

  2. 2
    Pearlman says:

    It is amazing how many leading scientists are in denial of the actuality and choose willful ignorance in the current standard ‘dark (matter and energy) age of a ‘flat’ universe:
    There is but one physical universe,
    our being in the one known sweet spot able to maintain continuous for at least thousands of years human life supporting conditions,
    attests that The designer/creator did it all for us just as revealed by the mass, open direct Torah revelation testimony ‘The Owners Manual’
    SPIRAL cosmological redshift hypothesis leads to why we have the optimal view w/in the sphere that is the visible universe, which approximates the entire physical universe, and why we the Earth-Sun ecliptic is by the center thereof.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291972501_ThePearlmanSPIRALvsSCM

  3. 3
    PaV says:

    chris haynes:

    An error of 10^120 is certainly not a “slight” difference. Therefore it is not an example of Fine Tuning. Instead, the colossal error in the prediction shows that, somehow, “our quantum mechanical equations” are wrong.

    I don’t believe it’s “wrong” equations so much as it is a misunderstanding of the vacuum itself. The ‘vacuum’ is an equivocation: OTOH, it is completely ’empty,’ while, OTOH, it is the repository of ‘fields’ and of the stuff of general relativity.

    Dirac’s “sea of electrons” needs further reflection and testing, IMHO.

  4. 4
    Origenes says:

    Can anyone point me in the right direction wrt a comprehensive bottom-up explanation of physical laws? How does one get from bosons, or ‘carrier particles’, to precise unchanging universal physical laws?

  5. 5
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes @ 4

    Nobody is going to touch that one. Hawking, Krauss, Stenger, Kaku, Susskind, none of them. They can’t even talk about it. The topic is just ignored, as far as I can see. Laws existed before particles? Or there were particles existing before physical laws emerged?

    Leonard Susskind: If, for some unforeseen reason, the [multiverse] turns out to be inconsistent – maybe for mathematical reasons, or because it disagrees with observation – I am pretty sure that physicists will go on searching for natural explanations of the world. But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature’s fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics. One might argue that the hope that a mathematically unique solution will emerge is as faith-based as ID.

  6. 6
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @5,

    If bosons, and or combinations of them, produce the physical laws, why is there not a multitude of physical laws? What constrains bosons to produce only a particular limited set of unchanging universal physical laws?

  7. 7
    Origenes says:

    // Further on the origin of the physical laws:

    Paul Davis: But what are these ultimate laws and where do they come from? Such questions are often dismissed as being pointless or even unscientific. As the cosmologist Sean Carroll has written, “There is a chain of explanations concerning things that happen in the universe, which ultimately reaches to the fundamental laws of nature and stops… at the end of the day the laws are what they are… And that’s okay. I’m happy to take the universe just as we find it.”
    [source]

    IOWs ‘they haven’t got a clue.’ I find this interesting, because it occurred to me that there cannot be, in principle, a naturalistic bottom-up explanation for immutable physical laws — which are themselves an ‘expression’ of top-down causation.
    A bottom-up explanation, from the level of e.g. bosons, should be expected to give rise to innumerable different ever-changing laws. By analogy, particles give rise to innumerable different conglomerations.
    Moreover a bottom-up process from bosons to physical laws is in need of constraints (laws) in order to produce a limited set of universal laws.

  8. 8
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    Moreover a bottom-up process from bosons to physical laws is in need of constraints (laws) in order to produce a limited set of universal laws.

    That’s it. If there could ever have been state where bosons existed without physical laws, then that state would persist in some form today. That’s one characteristic of physical laws – they are consistent over time and don’t change and adapt to what is acted-upon. If the laws were created by the objects, then the objects would shape the laws as objects change. But the laws shape (change, move, direct) the objects instead.

    Beyond even the laws (or perhaps part of them) are the properties of bosons. When we generalize about bosons or particles, we cite properties of them – which are “laws”. All particles … whatever. Where did those properties come from? It’s a limited set and they’re consistent. Bosons cannot create their own properties.

    Then Sean Carroll comes along and instead of answering, he just says “it is what it is”. Yes, Sean – God made it all that way, right? LOL. Yes, they are clueless and instead of investigating why, they just celebrate their ignorance. Talk about a science-stopper. “We just accept the things we can’t explain and don’t think about them any more”. 🙂

  9. 9
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic: If the laws were created by the objects, then the objects would shape the laws as objects change. But the laws shape (change, move, direct) the objects instead.

    Exactly. Paul Davies affirms your profound observation:

    Physical processes, however violent or complex, are thought to have absolutely no effect on the laws. There is thus a curious asymmetry: Physical processes depend on laws but the laws do not depend on physical processes. Although this statement cannot be proved, it is widely accepted.

    The fact that no one has come up with a bottom-up explanation for physical laws and that such an explanation would defy logic and observation, must be quite embarrassing for all goodwilling materialists. I mean, the whole materialistic enterprise, the attempt to explain reality bottom-up, seems to be based on laws that must operate top-down! If I were a materialist, that would be one of those things that keep me awake for most of the night.

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