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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Robert McEachern: on 1/7/14 at 19:22pm UTC, wrote "If he's right, then the measured value of dark energy (thought to be...

Zeeya Merali: on 1/7/14 at 14:39pm UTC, wrote Hi Robert, Perhaps I overstated things above. I think that Loeb is trying...

Robert McEachern: on 1/2/14 at 17:40pm UTC, wrote I fail to see how this has any implications for the anthropic principle....

Zeeya Merali: on 1/2/14 at 17:02pm UTC, wrote Best wishes for 2014 from everyone at FQXi! In case you missed it, to say...


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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali wrote on Jan. 2, 2014 @ 17:02 GMT
Best wishes for 2014 from everyone at FQXi!

In case you missed it, to say goodbye to 2013, I invited FQXi member and quantum physicist Ian Durham, of Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire to pick out his physics highlights of the past year. You can hear the results spread across our 3-part December podcast. Let us know if you agree with the items that he chose--or if you think we have missed something important.

Plus:

Alien hunter Sara Seager chats to reporter Colin Stuart about her FQXi-funded research into biosignature gases on exoplanets and being awarded a MacArthur genius grant.

LHC physicist Tejinder Virdee tells reporter Carinne Piekema more about the Higgs discovery and how it is being used to encourage students in Sub-Saharan Africa towards science.

And astronomer Avi Loeb talks about his recent proposal that the cosmic microwave background could have acted as an incubator for life in our infant universe, just 15 million years after the big bang. Loeb and biophysicist Dean Astumian tell me about the implications of this claim--if it is correct--for the anthropic principle and multiverse theory. You can read more about that in an article that I wrote for Nature a couple of weeks ago too. Oh, and if you want to know what kind of aliens could have survived in those conditions, then think of the Horta, from Star Trek, says Astumian:



(via TrekTV.)

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Robert H McEachern wrote on Jan. 2, 2014 @ 17:40 GMT
I fail to see how this has any implications for the anthropic principle. The Anthropic Principle, properly understood, merely applies "reduction to an absurdity" to state that:

If you make an assumption about some initial conditions, then apply valid deductive logic to that assumption in order to deduce the conclusion that life is implausible, then the absurdity of the conclusion, given the actual existence of life, demonstrates that the original assumption is obviously false.

Rob McEachern

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali replied on Jan. 7, 2014 @ 14:39 GMT
Hi Robert,

Perhaps I overstated things above. I think that Loeb is trying to question the way that proponents of multiverse theory often use anthropic arguments to explain why the cosmological constant is so small, and then say that fits with a picture in which multiple universes exist. The idea (they say) is that many universes exist, each with different physical parameters, including a wide range of values for the cosmological constant. It may well be rare that a universe would pop up with such a small value (as we have in our universe) -- one which also seems unusually suited for life to exist -- but humans would obviously find themselves in the corner of the multiverse that has these parameters because we couldn't evolve in one of the others.

Therefore, multiverse fans say, a typical intelligent observer is most likely to sprout up in a universe (within the multiverse) with a cosmological constant that takes a small value, as we see in our universe.

Loeb's point is that life -- possibly even intelligent life (though that's even more contentious) -- could have evolved even if the cosmological constant was far larger (a million times bigger). In which case, he argues, multiverse supporters should not say that a typical observer would be most likely to find themselves in a universe with a small cosmological constant. If he's right, then the measured value of dark energy (thought to be caused by the effects of a small cosmological constant) should not be taken as backing the multiverse view.

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Robert H McEachern replied on Jan. 7, 2014 @ 19:22 GMT
"If he's right, then the measured value of dark energy (thought to be caused by the effects of a small cosmological constant) should not be taken as backing the multiverse view. "

I agree with that conclusion, but it does not follow from the premise. Since, by definition of what is meant by "multiverse", our universe is independent of any other universes, even assuming that they exist. Hence nothing about our universe provides any evidence for anything other than itself.

Rob McEachern

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