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fine-tuned Universe
Posted: 09 October 2012 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
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It is said that our Universe is fine tuned and that a slightly different relation of the natural forces would have caused an empty universe with no chance for life.

But isn’t that only centered around our experience, i mean does it only apply to life as we know it, could it be that some strange sort of life would form in universes which are very different from our universe?
Could there be intelligent life in an universe with one or two space dimensions and three time dimensions?

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Posted: 09 October 2012 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve always found this idea idiotic.  Firstly, no one really knows if that’s true.  And even if it was slightly altered we either wouldn’t be here pondering this or we’d be used to the altered state of things and pondering the same damn question.  Either way, it’s moot.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yeah, it’s never made the slightest sense to me, either. Suppose there’s a trillion sided die, and whenever the number “42” comes up, a pink unicorn appears. And suppose the pink unicorn never appears otherwise.

So we have a pink unicorn before us, we know the die came up 42. We don’t know anything else. We certainly don’t know someone planned it to come up 42. Perhaps the die has just rolled around essentially forever. Every once in awhile it’ll come up 42.

And this assumes the fine tuning argument is true, which it probably isn’t. (There are probably many strange ways for life to get going under unusual conditions).

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Posted: 09 October 2012 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Alexander80 - 09 October 2012 08:56 AM

It is said that our Universe is fine tuned and that a slightly different relation of the natural forces would have caused an empty universe with no chance for life.

But isn’t that only centered around our experience, i mean does it only apply to life as we know it, could it be that some strange sort of life would form in universes which are very different from our universe?
Could there be intelligent life in an universe with one or two space dimensions and three time dimensions?

Perhaps there are an infinite number of universes.  And we just happen to be in one of those infinite number of universes in which life, as we know it, was inevitable.

[ Edited: 09 October 2012 12:22 PM by TimB ]
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Posted: 09 October 2012 11:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I agree with DM & Doug.  It’s a silly question that keeps showing up.  While we can postulate (not really being able to imagine it) that other universes would function by different physical laws, it seems unlikely.  Much more likely is that electrons, neutrons and protons would form, convert to atoms then molecules, that gravity would exist as it does here, so would pull things together, and so on, moving toward a universe similar to our own.  And when you figure the insanely large numbers of physical reactions that would happen over an insanely large number of lumps of matter (planets) over an insanely long time, it seems likely that self-replicating reactions would occur somewhere at some time.  I.E., life.  And when we look at the bizarre forms of life that have existed on our own planet over the three billion years, weird (by our standards) is quite likely.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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This silly claim keeps coming up because its very appealing to those who are simple minded and want to believe with all their heart that some intelligent being created the universe specifically for us.

In any situation where there are very large number of equally likely potential outcomes the outcome you get is ALWAYS going to be an unlikely one. It only seems special and fantastic in this situation because its the one that led to us, but that doesn’t make it special in the grand scheme of things.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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We’re here because we occupy the “goldilocks"zone. One shift to the left and we fry; one shift to the right and we freeze. And even though physicists speculate that other universes exist and their theories are compelling, we don’t have actual proof of their existence yet. There are still competing theories about the creation of this one even though this doesn’t leave the door open for a god-like creation. Who knows what’s out there and what natural laws there are yet to be discovered? Let’s back up and speculate about life on other planets in this universe before we begin to go traipsin’ to another one.


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Posted: 09 October 2012 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Alexander80 - 09 October 2012 08:56 AM

It is said that our Universe is fine tuned and that a slightly different relation of the natural forces would have caused an empty universe with no chance for life.

But isn’t that only centered around our experience, i mean does it only apply to life as we know it, could it be that some strange sort of life would form in universes which are very different from our universe?
Could there be intelligent life in an universe with one or two space dimensions and three time dimensions?

We do not know if the universe is fine tuned. It might be true that if some of the universal constants would be slightly different, that then no stable bigger structures can form. But we do not know if the universal constants can vary. To establish that we should be able to change some of these constants in an experiment, which seems quite impossible, or observe another (part of the???) universe where the constants are different, where I also have no idea how we could observe that. The only other option is theoretical considerations, but I have no idea how that could work. (But read this pdf.) Until now a wider understanding of physical phenomena shows how the number of natural constants can be reduced, by showing their interdependence (e.g. the electric constant, the magnetic constant and the speed of light).

An empty universe with life in it seems to be a contradiction in terms, don’t you think? (Hey, philosophy at work! wink)

PS: We already had a long thread around this topic.

[ Edited: 09 October 2012 11:27 PM by GdB ]
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Posted: 09 October 2012 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 09 October 2012 02:38 PM

We’re here because we occupy the “goldilocks"zone. One shift to the left and we fry; one shift to the right and we freeze. And even though physicists speculate that other universes exist and their theories are compelling, we don’t have actual proof of their existence yet. There are still competing theories about the creation of this one even though this doesn’t leave the door open for a god-like creation. Who knows what’s out there and what natural laws there are yet to be discovered? Let’s back up and speculate about life on other planets in this universe before we begin to go traipsin’ to another one.
Cap’t Jack

Conditions on earth are which allow for life are not so fine tuned at all. There are life forms which thrive in -100F ice packs as well as life forms which thrive in +400F sulphur vents at ocean bottom. That is a 500 degree difference and environments which are totally incompatible with each other. Seems that life can find a way to emerge under the harshest conditions, within certain limits of course.

But the fact that these are the extremes of conditions on earth, I see no reason why one would claim an exactly fine tuned universe being necessary. These people always gauge things to human existence, but when we talk about lifeforms there is no fine tuning necessary.

[ Edited: 09 October 2012 11:52 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 10 October 2012 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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On the face of it it seems like such a bad idea that it’s almost hard to refute.  Unfortunately I think it was given creedence because Stephen Hawkings at one point supported it.

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Posted: 10 October 2012 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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There is a common misconception that “fine tuning of the universe for life” implies the existence of some kind of “creator” or designer.
In fact nothing could be further from the truth.
There is actually a great wealth of evidence of seemingly inevitable directionality and “just right” conditions to be found downstream of the usually quoted dimensionless physical parameters, especially in such areas as geology, chemistry and biology.
Most clearly observed in the way in which the the properties and timely abundances of the chemical elements and their compounds not only have allowed, but have made virtually inevitable the observed evolution of technology in the medium of the collective imagination of our species.
This persistent and pervasive pattern is not to be ignored or swept under the mat by the very unparsimonious artifice of positing multiverses with infinitely varying physical properties.
Nor does it require for interpretation “intelligent design” which is essentially a notion derived from the hearsay of superstitious mythology. 
A broad evolutionary model of the kind outlined in “The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” will suffice to account for these patterns on a straightforward empirical basis. At the expense of swallowing a few human conceits!
The book is avaiable as free download in e-book formats from the “Unusual Perspectives” website

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Posted: 10 October 2012 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Perhaps our one universe (that we know of) is enough, given the elements and natural laws that are available, and given enough time, for life to inevitably develop.

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Posted: 10 October 2012 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Yes, TimB, there are very strong indications that the machinery of nature is structured in such a way.

Tthe physical parameters are but the tip of the iceberg. There is actually a much greater body of evidence to support fine tuning to be found in fields of science far better established than cosmology.

After all, perhaps the earliest proponent of fine-tuning was the biochemist Lawrence Henderson. In “The Fitness of the Environment”, published in 1913, he observed that “”the whole evolutionary process, both cosmic and organic, is one, and the biologist may now rightly regard the universe in its very essence as biocentric”

Geology, biology and particularly chemistry provide many examples of “just right” prevailing conditions that enable and, indeed, make virtually inevitable, the strong directionality we observe in evolutionary processes.

A good case can be made for nature’s machinery to be described in terms of an evolutionary continuum that extends (at least) from stellar nucleosynthesis right through to the autonomous development of technology that we observe today.

Within the context of this paradigm the primary function of our species can be regarded as the generation of the next phase of the on-going “life” process. 

A new non-biological cognitive entity emerging from what is at present the Internet.

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Posted: 10 October 2012 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Cognosium - 10 October 2012 12:10 PM

There is a common misconception that “fine tuning of the universe for life” implies the existence of some kind of “creator” or designer.
In fact nothing could be further from the truth.
There is actually a great wealth of evidence of seemingly inevitable directionality and “just right” conditions to be found downstream of the usually quoted dimensionless physical parameters, especially in such areas as geology, chemistry and biology.
Most clearly observed in the way in which the the properties and timely abundances of the chemical elements and their compounds not only have allowed, but have made virtually inevitable the observed evolution of technology in the medium of the collective imagination of our species.
This persistent and pervasive pattern is not to be ignored or swept under the mat by the very unparsimonious artifice of positing multiverses with infinitely varying physical properties.
Nor does it require for interpretation “intelligent design” which is essentially a notion derived from the hearsay of superstitious mythology. 
A broad evolutionary model of the kind outlined in “The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” will suffice to account for these patterns on a straightforward empirical basis. At the expense of swallowing a few human conceits!
The book is avaiable as free download in e-book formats from the “Unusual Perspectives” website

Well said.

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Posted: 11 October 2012 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Write4U - 10 October 2012 03:11 PM

Well said.

Maybe. But the contents is wrong.

1. On the level of universal constants, we have no reason to believe that the constants can vary. Without the possibility to vary the fine tuning argument makes no sense.

2. On the level of the ‘happy circumstances’ here on earth the argument that the universe is vast, with trillions of stars and planets, is perfectly valid. At least some of the planets will be in the ‘Goldilocks-zone’ (or if you want in the ‘Silvilocks-zone’, if you know what I mean…)

And btw, you should not mix up these two different ‘fine tuned’ areas. You brought in life on earth, where the OP was about the laws of nature and the universal constants. Do you see that one has nothing to do with the other?

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Posted: 11 October 2012 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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“On the level of universal constants, we have no reason to believe that the constants can vary”

I agree, and I am very pleased to see you make this point. Although some experimental evidence for variation in the fine structure constant has been presented by the University of New South Wales team led by John Webb it has yet to be confirmed.

However, your remark “Without the possibility to vary the fine tuning argument makes no sense” does not itself make sense except within the tautologous context of “things must be as they are”, a kind of thinking which is contrary to the spirit of scientific enquiry, a very prominent feature of which is the search for patterns, and the validation and attempts at explanation thereof.

To address

“On the level of the ‘happy circumstances’ here on earth the argument that the universe is vast, with trillions of stars and planets, is perfectly valid. At least some of the planets will be in the ‘Goldilocks-zone’:”

You are falling into the trap here of assuming that “fine-tuning” of universal processes for the fitness of biology leads to the conclusion that biology must then arise in all spatio-temporal locations. Which is, of course, patently silly.
As evidenced by the billions of sperm sometimes released for the production of a single gamete, we see that nature’s machinery has scant regard for economy.

“And btw, you should not mix up these two different ‘fine tuned’ areas. You brought in life on earth, where the OP was about the laws of nature and the universal constants. Do you see that one has nothing to do with the other?”

Amazingly, GdB, the implications of this platitude had not entirely escaped my notice :>)
As you will find if you check out my writings.

The point I am trying to drive home here, though, is that the areas of science with which we are familiar and have a somewhat sounder foundation are a richer field for observation and interpretation of of these persistent and pervasive serendipitous patterns.

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