Cosmology Fine tuning

At Mind Matters News: Was the universe created for life forms to live in? How would we know?

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We can begin by looking at the fundamental constants that underlie the universe:


Daniel Díaz: The gravitational constant is just a number that is attached to Newton’s gravitational law, more formally developed after Einstein’s general theory of relativity. There is a constant attached to the gravitational law. And in that gravitational law, that constant is producing some effect. Were the constant too small, then stars could not be formed.

News, “Was the universe created for life forms to live in? How would we know?” at Mind Matters News

Note: The gravitational constant: “the proportionality constant used in Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, and is commonly denoted by G” – Universe Today

This constant of the attraction between any two objects is expressed as an equation:

G = 6.673×10-11Nm2kg-2

Proposed by Isaac Newton in 1687, it was first measured by Henry Cavendish in 1798.

“Assuming you know both your mass and your weight, and you know the radius of the earth. Plug those into the equation above and solve for the other mass. Voila! Wonder of wonders, you’ve just obtained the mass of the Earth.” – John Carl Villanueva, Universe Today

Daniel Díaz: And as it happens, it is in the stars that carbon is also formed. So if stars are not formed, carbon does not come into existence. And if carbon does not come into existence, we living beings, based on carbon in order to exist, could have not existed.


Takehome: The constants of the universe — gravitational constant, entropy, and cosmological constant — must be finely tuned for life to exist.

Here are the previous instalments:

The first episode:

Ours is a finely tuned — and No Free Lunch — universe. Mathematician Ola Hössjer and biostatistician Daniel Andrés Díaz-Pachón explain to Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks why nature works so seamlessly. A “life-permitting interval” makes it all possible — but is that really an accident?

and

Fine-tuning? How Bayesian statistics could help break a deadlock Bayesian statistics are used, for example, in spam filter technology, identifying probable spam by examining vast masses of previous messages. The frequentist approach assesses the probability of future events but the Bayesian approach assesses the probability of events that have already occurred.

The second episode:

Life is so wonderfully finely tuned that it’s frighteningA mathematician who uses statistical methods to model the fine tuning of molecular machines and systems in cells reflects…
Every single cell is like a city that cannot function without a complex network of services that must all work together to maintain life.

Can there be a general theory for fine-tuning? If you make a bowl of alphabet soup and the letters arrange themselves and say, good morning, that is specified. What are the probabilities? Ola Hössjer sees the beauty of mathematics in the fact that seemingly unrelated features in cosmology and biology can be modeled using similar concepts.

You may also wish to read: No Free Lunches: Robert J. Marks: What the Big Bang teaches us about nothing. Bernoulli is right and Keynes is Wrong. Critics of Bernoulli don’t appreciate the definition of “knowing nothing.” The concept of “knowing nothing” can be tricky.

3 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Was the universe created for life forms to live in? How would we know?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    This can also be stated as, this Universe could not exist if certain fundamental constants did not have their current values. To call it “fine-tuning” implies a fine-tuner. Why our Universe exists as it does is a profound mystery. It may have been the product of intelligent agency although that doesn’t necessarily mean it was any of the gods conceived of by human beings. The most honest answer is that, despite the many causes people believe in, we simply don’t know.

  2. 2
    Fasteddious says:

    Seversky is, strictly speaking, correct that we simply do not know for certain, but that is nothing new; very few things are known for certain, as in proven logically. However, the FACT of the extreme fine tuning of numerous initial conditions and physical constants positively begs for an explanation. There are no known physical reasons for all those numbers to be so precisely aligned to allow any conceivable form of life to develop and exist, so it is only natural to go looking for an explanation. There are three possible explanations that I know of:
    1. the numbers had to be that way, by necessity:
    Some future theory will explain the values and how they are precisely tied together, in an “it couldn’t have been otherwise” fashion. But no one has even a vague idea of a theory that would do that, so I don’t think anyone is hoping for this explanation to pan out, unless it’s the “scientism of the gaps” people.
    2. the multiverse: out of gazillions of actual random universes one got it right by chance:
    But there is zero evidence for the multiverse, just various hypotheses. And any multiverse theory that would allow for random initial conditions as well as random physical constants would itself need some very special and clever fine tuning (e.g. inflation, plus, plus), thereby just bumping the problem up to a higher (and inaccessible) level.
    3. The existence of a fine tuner, or intelligent designer:
    This replaces a bunch of mysteries and questions with a single Mystery. Mind you, there is considerable evidence in support of this explanation, and none against it. It is a parsimonious explanation in that it posits the fewest unknowns and fewest steps to get to the reality we experience (in more ways than just physics), while accounting for all the aspects needing explaining.

    To avoid exploring and choosing among the explanations by just saying “we do not know” reveals a poverty of curiosity or interest in deeper answers, which usually reflects a worldview unwilling to be challenged. Clearly the fine tuner in #3 is compatible with “God” as presented by monotheists. Beyond that, little can be said scientifically, but again, there is lots of evidence outside of science that provides partial further information on the nature of God. And anyone with an open mind is welcome to explore and look deeper than where physics leaves us.

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    despite the many causes people believe in, we simply don’t know.

    Is this a necessary condition for a best of all possible worlds?

    Without this mystery/doubt could a meaningful world exist?

    doesn’t necessarily mean it was any of the gods conceived of by human beings.

    True.

    We have to look elsewhere for hints on what’s this is all about with the understanding that it will never be definitive by design.

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