Cosmology Fine tuning Intelligent Design Naturalism

Rob Sheldon: Researchers showed that the carbon state of the universe IS fine-tuned

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As opposed to “robust.” He says, below, “We really need a word for this racket: Pay me or I’ll defend ID.” First, in a 2013 paper, we read,

Viability of Carbon-Based Life as a Function of the Light Quark Mass

Abstract: The Hoyle state plays a crucial role in the helium burning of stars that have reached the red giant stage. The close proximity of this state to the triple-alpha threshold is needed for the production of carbon, oxygen, and other elements necessary for life. We investigate whether this life-essential condition is robust or delicately fine-tuned by measuring its dependence on the fundamental constants of nature, specifically the light quark mass and the strength of the electromagnetic interaction. We show that there exist strong correlations between the alpha-particle binding energy and the various energies relevant to the triple-alpha process. We derive limits on the variation of these fundamental parameters from the requirement that sufficient amounts of carbon and oxygen be generated in stars. We also discuss the implications of our results for an anthropic view of the Universe. P1 Evgeny Epelbaum,1 Hermann Krebs,1 Timo A. Lähde,2 Dean Lee,3 and Ulf-G. Meißner2,4,5 1 Institut fu¨r Theoretische Physik II, Ruhr-Universita¨t Bochum, D-44870 Bochum, Germany 2 Institut fu¨r Kernphysik, Institute for Advanced Simulation, and Ju¨lich Center for Hadron Physics, Forschungszentrum Ju¨lich, D-52425 Ju¨lich, Germany 3 Department of Physics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA 4 Helmholtz-Institut fu¨r Strahlen- und Kernphysik and Bethe Center for Theoretical Physics, Universita¨t Bonn, D-53115 Bonn, Germany 5 JARA—High Performance Computing, Forschungszentrum Ju¨lich, D-52425 Ju¨lich, Germany (Received 18 December 2012; published 13 March 2013) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.112502 PACS numbers: 21.10.Dr, 21.30. x, 21.60.De


So Sheldon, our physics color commentator, deconstructs:

Years ago, and I’m going to guess about 1957 or so, Fred Hoyle used the “Anthropic Principle” to argue that Carbon-12 had a fine-tuned energy resonance in its nucleus.

Now there’s a couple of ways to measure a resonance–imagine a swing with your grandchild in it, and you are pumping it by holding up high on the chain, but with your eyes shut. If you don’t know when the swing is coming back, then pushing at the wrong moment will slow down the swing, or at least make it go sideways. So you could push faster and faster until you “felt” the chain pushing back on you. At that moment, you are transferring maximum force into the swing, and that means you found the resonance. You might also be able to tell by the squeals emanating from your grandchild.

We can do the same with a nucleus, using high energy electrons as our “push” and ramping up the energy of the electrons, and waiting to see when the nucleus gave off gamma rays. Now this measurement had already been done for C-12, but Hoyle didn’t find the resonance he was looking for. But he knew it had to be there because carbon was abundant enough in the universe for Hoyle himself to be alive, so there had to be a way to make it. The Big Bang didn’t make it, as Hoyle demonstrated in 1967 with the first Big Bang Nucleosynthesis code. Stars didn’t make much of it, because when the center of the star was hot enough to burn helium to carbon, it was well on its way to becoming a supernovae and turning everything into uranium. Nor was there a calmer, steadier way to make carbon by, say, adding a proton to Boron.

So Hoyle argued that there must be a secret path to Carbon, one that involved not the addition of protons but the triple collision of three helium atoms. But any collision that was strong enough to make the helium stick (overcome the Coulomb repulsion) had too much energy to keep them stuck together. What he needed was an energy resonance in the Carbon nucleus that converted He + He ->Be +He -> Carbon with no leftover energy that might tear the new nucleus apart. And he knew that this secret path had to be there or he wouldn’t exist. It took several years of pleading, but finally Willy Fowler did the measurement and found it just as Hoyle had predicted.

But this, says Marcus Chown in his book The Magic Furnace, was simply “the most outrageous prediction” ever made in science.”If [the 7.65 MeV state] did not exist, Hoyle reasoned, the universe would contain no carbon. And if there was no carbon, there would be no human beings. Thus Hoyle was saying – and nobody had ever used logic as outrageous as this before – that the mere fact he was alive and pondering the question of carbon was proof the 7.65 MeV state existed.”

With Fowler’s help, Hoyle did indeed find the 7.65 MeV state and the pair, working with astronomers Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge, wrote “Synthesis of the Elements in Stars” (1957) for the Review of Modern Physics. Despite its four authors, the paper is principally Hoyle’s work. “To this day, he is the only person to have made a successful prediction from an anthropic argument in advance of an experiment,” adds Chown.

This success of fine-tuning as a concept rankled the materialists. So several papers have been written saying that the Hoyle state was not fine-tuned; Hoyle just got lucky. How do we tell the difference?

Epelbaum et al., 2013 think that the earlier refutations were poorly done. Having just invented a highly accurate numerical technique, they propose to test it on the fine-tuning of Hoyle’s state. So they take Hoyle’s prediction and ask “Just how fine-tuned is this resonance?” Or restating the question, “Was Hoyle lucky, or is the universe truly fine-tuned for carbon life?”

One way to test the validity of a theory or a model is to use data from a completely unrelated, independent source to see if the model is also optimum for the new stuff. In terms of neural-net AI you divide your data into two sets: a training set and a testing set. This is the equivalent testing set of independent measurements, to see how good the training really was.

If Hoyle is correct that the universe is fine-tuned for life, then the independent measures will likewise be fine-tuned. Contrariwise, if we are just lucky, then only the “Hoyle state” is fine-tuned, but everything else would be “broadly” tuned.

This paper grabs some other, unconstrained nuclear constants like the Coulomb repulsion strength and the “mass of the light quark” and tweaks them in a model to see whether it destroys the ability of the Hoyle state to make Carbon-12. If nothing much changes, then we were just lucky–if there’s a sharp peak, then it appears the universe is fine-tuned to make C-12.

When they are all done, they find that 3 independent variables in nuclear physics all have to be correlated within 2%. If we crank up the Coulomb force, then we have to crank up the light quark mass or we lose our C-12 production.

What does all this mean?

Well, it could mean that there are “hidden correlations” in nuclear physics that no one knew were there. Or it might mean that these three quantities have been assigned arbitrary values based on their outcome–which is to say–designed.

How is this different from the usual “fine tuning” arguments made by, for example, Luke Barnes? Luke argues that each fine-tuning variable is independent of the others, so for example, if variable-(a) gives 1:100 and variable-(b) gives 1:10, the combined statistic is 1:1000. This argument is rather that (a) and (b) are correlated, so their combined statistic is not 1000, but say, 200. This could mean either that we’ve found an explicit requirement of the designer (making C-12), or we’ve found a hidden theoretical connection between (a) & (b). What do they report?

“Beyond such relatively small changes [2%], the anthropic principle appears necessary at this time to explain the observed reaction rate of the triple-alpha process. In order to make more definitive statements about carbon and oxygen production for larger changes in the fundamental parameters, a more precise determination of A_s and A_t is needed from future lattice QCD simulations.”

So their conclusion is that previous debunking is wrong and the Hoyle state really is fine-tuned, but send more money and maybe they can undo the damage.

We really need a word for this racket– “Pay me or I’ll defend ID.” Dextortion?

The Long Ascent: Genesis 1â  11 in Science & Myth, Volume 1 by [Sheldon, Robert]

Rob Sheldon is the author of Genesis: The Long Ascent

See also: Rob Sheldon: The real reason there is a crisis in cosmology Nearly everything that has failed about the Big Bang model has been added because of bad metaphysics, a refusal to accept the consequences of a beginning. The remaining pieces of the Big Bang model that are failing and which can’t be attributed to bad metaphysics, were added from sheer laziness.

Doubt cast on new “exomoon”: Rob Sheldon explains Sheldon: There are red flags all over this data, but the investigators are standing by their measurement. This is what irreproducible papers look like in physics, and why the same crisis that afflicts other disciplines also afflicts physics.


Rob Sheldon: Here’s why physicists are surprised by the universe’s increased expansion rate The two methods differ in that one is “direct” and the other “indirect”. Clearly one or both of them is making a mistake. Since it is hard to find (and people have looked) a reason why the direct method is failing, the feeling is that the indirect method must have a mistake in its model.

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2 Replies to “Rob Sheldon: Researchers showed that the carbon state of the universe IS fine-tuned

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    a good sleeper on fine tuning

  2. 2
    vmahuna says:

    Well, gee, I found this FASCINATING. I’m gonna locate copies of the books.

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