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Tackling Cosmological Fine-Tuning

Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life?  This has been a question in science for as long as I can remember.  It’s a normal question – why do physical constants that appear to have nothing to do with one another nevertheless seem to be fine-tuned to one another?  Fine-tuning is a problem for scientists, because it appears to involve arbitrary constants that are suited just perfectly for us people, and that’s a theological problem for many scientists.  It also seems to involve coincidences, which even religious scientists really don’t like.

Tim Maudlin suggests an intellectually satisfying, but as-yet-unproven resolution.

There is one other conceptual possibility for overcoming fine-tuning that is worth our consideration, even if there is no explicit physics to back it up yet. In this scenario, the universe’s dynamics do not ‘aim’ at any particular outcome, nor does the universe randomly try out all possibilities, and yet it still tends to produce worlds in which physical quantities might appear to have been adjusted to one another. The name for this sort of physical process is homeostasis.

Here is a simple example. When a large object starts falling through the atmosphere, it initially accelerates downward due to the force of gravity. As it falls faster, air resistance increases, and that opposes the gravitational force. Eventually, the object reaches a terminal velocity where the drag exactly equals the force of gravity, the acceleration stops, and the object falls at a constant speed.

For beings who evolve on that falling object, drag and gravity appear unrelated, yet they balance!  I hope I haven’t spoiled it, but reading the whole piece is well worth it.

Posted in SciTech.

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