The Most Abused Principle in all of Science

Could you touch on the Anthropic principle and our finely-tuned Universe?
triplealphaHow the mis-application of the Anthropic Principle has led factions of scientists away from the search for a natural, physical explanation of our Universe, and why that’s bad for everyone.
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Read more at https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/6686756f85b3

Tritium as an Anthropic Probe


Andrew Gould (Ohio State)
I show that if tritium were just 20 keV lighter relative to helium-3, then the current deuterium burning phase of pre-main-sequence stellar evolution would be replaced by deuterium+tritium burning. This phase would take place at the same temperature but would last a minimum of 4 times longer and a maximum of 8 times longer than deuterium burning and so would yield total energies comparable to the binding energy of solar-type pre-main-sequence stars. Hence, it could in principle radically affect the proto-planetary disk, which forms at the same epoch. I suggest that this may be one of the most “finely-tuned” parameters required for intelligent life, with the mass range only a few percent of the neutron-proton mass difference, and 10-5 of their masses. I suggest that the lower limit of this range is set by the physics of disk formation and the upper limit by the statistical properties of fundamental physics. However, if this latter suggestion is correct, the statistical distribution of physical “constants” must be a power-law rather than an exponential. I also suggest a deep connection between fundamental physics and the search for extrasolar life/intelligence….
Read more: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1207.2149v1.pdf

Life in the Universe by Stephen Hawking

In this talk, I would like to speculate a little, on the development of life in the universe, and in particular, the development of intelligent life. I shall take this to include the human race, even though much of its behaviour through out history, has been pretty stupid, and not calculated to aid the survival of the species. Two questions I shall discuss are, ‘What is the probability of life existing else where in the universe?’ and, ‘How may life develop in the future?’

It is a matter of common experience, that things get more disordered and chaotic with time. This observation can be elevated to the status of a law, the so-called Second Law of Thermodynamics. This says that the total amount of disorder, or entropy, in the universe, always increases with time. However, the Law refers only to the total amount of disorder. The order in one body can increase, provided that the amount of disorder in its surroundings increases by a greater amount. This is what happens in a living being. One can define Life to be an ordered system that can sustain itself against the tendency to disorder, and can reproduce itself. That is, it can make similar, but independent, ordered systems. To do these things, the system must convert energy in some ordered form, like food, sunlight, or electric power, into disordered energy, in the form of heat. A laptopIn this way, the system can satisfy the requirement that the total amount of disorder increases, while, at the same time, increasing the order in itself and its offspring. A living being usually has two elements: a set of instructions that tell the system how to sustain and reproduce itself, and a mechanism to carry out the instructions. In biology, these two parts are called genes and metabolism. But it is worth emphasising that there need be nothing biological about them. For example, a computer virus is a program that will make copies of itself in the memory of a computer, and will transfer itself to other computers. Thus it fits the definition of a living system, that I have given. Like a biological virus, it is a rather degenerate form, because it contains only instructions or genes, and doesn’t have any metabolism of its own. Instead, it reprograms the metabolism of the host computer, or cell. Some people have questioned whether viruses should count as life, because they are parasites, and can not exist independently of their hosts. But then most forms of life, ourselves included, are parasites, in that they feed off and depend for their survival on other forms of life. I think computer viruses should count as life. Maybe it says something about human nature, that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. Talk about creating life in our own image. I shall return to electronic forms of life later on…… Continue reading Life in the Universe by Stephen Hawking