Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Anthropic Principle and Powerball.

Means, well, that because the laws of physics have allowed "us" to be created, the ultimate "equation" of physics (and the Universe) is that everything exists precisely as it does so as to allow us to exist. So the Anthropic Principle is "proven" by the fact that we exist. And because we do exist, this "proves" the Anthropic Principle. To support this, folks make endless lists of how if various sub-atomic and cosmological parameters were just a tiny bit different, we would not exist (or life as we know it would not etc.) And then use these endless lists of miraculous, fortuitous circumstances as proof of the Anthropic Principle.

This is sort of like saying that if I win the Powerball at an odds of 1 in 280 million, the 'basic laws' of Powerball were specifically designed so that I would win. And the proof is that I won.

Far too many trees have been killed by authors and scientists contemplating the "miracle" that the Earth is just the right distance from the Sun to allow liquid water to exist. And the Sun is "just the right size" for a planet situated at Earth's distance from the Sun to maintain liquid water on its surface. Venus is too close. Mars is too far. Etc.

Well, durr. If the Sun was slightly smaller, Earth would not be at the "magic" distance to retain liquid water on its surface. Mercury or Venus would. If the Sun was slightly larger, Mars would be at the "magic distance" -- not the Earth -- and Martians would be claiming the whole Universe was miraculously made just so "they" could evolve and take notice.

The most recent minimum estimate of the size of the Universe is approx. 78,000 million light years. That's 6 trillion miles times 78,000. That's the minimum size. The number of galaxies, each comprised of billions of stars, is estimated at 100 billion. The probability of life evolving in such a vast place is much better than buying a Powerball ticket. A Powerball winner is not special. It's just a random number on a ticket. If you win Powerball, you weren't "meant" to win Powerball according to some ancient and timeless rules of Powerball. You just got lucky. And if you were meant to win, why not on the very first ticket you bought rather than the 1,000th?

Every other "miracle" of scientific laws which allow life on Earth to exist and is extolled by the Anthropic Principle can be torn down by basic logic. If protons decayed in 10 years instead of 10 to the 38th power years, life would not exist on Earth. But so what? If protons decayed in 10 to the 37th power years then life would exist just as it does today.

You can erase or alter any fundamental physical law that life as we know it depends on and say that if these laws were abolished, life would not exist. But so what? That is no different than saying if the Universe did not exist then life could not exist. Well, durr. Until Powerball existed, there were no Powerball winners. That doesn't mean the laws of the Universe were designed specifically at the moment of Creation to allow Powerball to develop so that there might be Powerball winners today. It just sort of happened. Like winning Powerball. Or losing Powerball.

1 comment:

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