January 17, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

More Cosmic Fine-Tuning Found

The Anthropic Principle refuses to go away.  The mass of the light quark adds to finely tuned factors that make the universe life-supporting.

From Germany comes another fine-tuned parameter of physics.  “German scholar Ulf-G Meißner, chair in theoretical nuclear physics at the Helmholtz Institute, University of Bonn, adds to a series of discoveries that support this Anthropic Principle,” an article on EurekAlert begins with the headline, “New evidence for anthropic theory that fundamental physics constants underlie life-enabling universe.”  This one is particularly quarky:

In one series of experiments involving intricate computer simulations on JUQUUEN at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Professor Meißner and his colleagues altered the values of light quark masses from those found in Nature to determine how great a variation would prevent the formation of carbon or oxygen inside massive stars. “Variations in the light quark masses of up to 2-3 percent are unlikely to be catastrophic to the formation of life-essential carbon and oxygen,” he concludes…

And earlier, during the Big Bang’s generation of the nuclei of first two elements in the Periodic Table, he notes, “From the observed element abundances and the fact that the free neutron decays in about 882 seconds and the surviving neutrons are mostly captured in 4He, one finds a stringent bound on the light quark mass variations … under the reasonable assumption that the masses of all quarks and leptons appearing in neutron β-decay scale with the Higgs vacuum expectation value.”

“Thus,” Professor Meißner states, “the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis sets indeed very tight limits on the variations of the light quark mass.”

“Such extreme fine-tuning supports the anthropic view of our Universe,” he adds.

It’s not clear from the quote above where the catastrophic limit is, or if “unlikely” was misprint for “likely,” given the context, because the very next statement speaks of a “stringent bound on the light quark mass variations.”  There might be more clarification in Meißner’s paper in Science Bulletin.

The press release assumes a big bang and that all carbon was synthesized inside large stars, but it would seem the tight limits calculated by Meißner  apply to any theory of origins.  The mass of building blocks such as quarks affect the behavior of higher particles as well as human beings, planets, and stars.

The press release does not limit the anthropic principle to these findings. The Anthropic Principle was enunciated decades ago. It is not a minority view:

The theory that an Anthropic Principle guided the physics and evolution of the universe was initially proposed by Brandon Carter while he was a post-doctoral researcher in astrophysics at the University of Cambridge; this theory was later debated by Cambridge scholar Stephen Hawking and a widening web of physicists around the world.

What, exactly, is the Anthropic Principle?

Brandon Carter initially posited the theory: “The universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.

There are many examples of fine-tuning. Hawking gives one:

Stephen Hawking, expert on the Big Bang and cosmic inflation, extended the dialogue on the Anthropic Principle in a series of papers and books. In “A Brief History of Time,” he outlines an array of astrophysics phenomena and constants that seem to support the AP theory, and asks: “Why did the universe start out with so nearly the critical rate of expansion that separates models that recollapse from those that go on expanding forever, that even now, ten thousand million years later, it is still expanding at nearly the critical rate?”

“If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million,” he explains, “the universe would have recollapsed before it ever reached its present size.”

One philosophical way out of the evidence for design is to imagine a multiverse where uncountable universes have constants that take on all possible values. This is the thinking of both Hawking and Meißner.

“Clearly, one can think of many universes, the multiverse, in which various fundamental parameters take different values leading to environments very different from ours,” Professor Meißner states.

Professor Stephen Hawking states that even slight alterations in the life-enabling constants of fundamental physics in this hypothesized multiverse could “give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty.

As Evolution News & Views reported Dec. 22, some astronomers find appeals to a multiverse worrisome because they are not observable or testable.  The concept, they say, is even absurd when the logical consequences of such a view are critically analyzed:

Billions of universes — and of galaxies and copies of each of us — accumulate with no possibility of communication between them or of testing their reality. But if a duplicate self exists in every multiverse domain and there are infinitely many, which is the real ‘me’ that I experience now? Is any version of oneself preferred over any other? How could ‘I’ ever know what the ‘true’ nature of reality is if one self favours the multiverse and another does not?

Nevertheless, George Ellis and Joseph Silk, the authors of the source paper in Nature, agree that the universe appears finely tuned.

The multiverse is motivated by a puzzle: why fundamental constants of nature, such as the fine-structure constant that characterizes the strength of electromagnetic interactions between particles and the cosmological constant associated with the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe, have values that lie in the small range that allows life to exist.

There appears to be no workaround for that puzzle. It’s based on empirical observation. Ruling out a multiverse as non-scientific and absurd leaves one with the Anthropic Principle (AP). But the AP is not an explanation. It doesn’t explain why the universe is finely tuned. It merely says that “if it weren’t that way, we wouldn’t be here.”

The Anthropic Principle has been re-cast in stronger terms, like “The universe must produce observers sometime in its history”—which is another absurdity; what or who in a material universe tells the cosmos what it must do?  But even that Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP) has been too weak for some. Others formulated the Participatory Anthropic Principle (PAP), which says, essentially, that observers create the universe by observing it. Martin Gardner called that the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (acronym left as an exercise).

These non-explanations, and the multiverse speculation, show the absurd lengths that materialists will go to in their efforts to escape the obvious. Fine tuning is prime evidence for intelligent design. Because of the implications of design that ripple down through the levels of reality to us, atheists and materialists run from the light. Following the evidence where it leads, and embracing their implications, is a much more scientific way to deal with reality.

Recommended videos: The Privileged Planet, The Case for a Creator, Privileged Species.



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  • Russell says:

    The multiverse argument appears to be just a variation of the “resort to infinity” argument for atheism. “This current arrangement of atoms is just as likely as all other possible arrangements of atoms, and as unlikely as it is, here we are.” Before the Big Bang theory there was the eternal steady state theory which relied on an infinite expanse and infinite time to do the work now done by the infinite number of multiversers.

    The concept of infinity also seems to be a limit on human reason as in Euclid’s axiom that parallel lines never intersect at infinity. How could he know? So it’s interesting that those seeking to claim their superior knowledge excludes God must resort to concepts beyond their possible knowledge.

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