Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Critique of Shortsighted Anthropic Principles

10.01.2008
Irit Maor, Lawrence Krauss, and Glenn Starkman Physical Review Letters (forthcoming)

Many people marvel that we live in a universe that seems to be precisely tailored to suit the development of intelligent life. The observation is the basis for some forms of "Anthropic Principles" that strive to explain why the laws of physics take the form we observe, given the nearly countless other possibilities permitted by schools of thought such as string theory.

But a new paper from a group of physicists at Case Western Reserve University argues that any connection between the laws of physics and the existence of life is likely to be an illusion stemming from our shortsighted definition of intelligent life.

For the sake of their analysis, the authors define intelligent life as any organism capable of producing scientists who can observe the universe around them. They then consider three types of universes: those that don't lead to scientists, those that lead to scientists who are completely different from us, and those that lead to scientists who need the same physical laws to survive that we require.

According to the authors, the second type of universe - one populated by scientists entirely unlike us - is too often overlooked by those who turn to anthropic arguments. After all, for all we know life could be very common in many types of universes even if stars and the other familiar components of our universe don't exist.

At best, it seems that our existence may indicate that the laws of physics as we know them are in effect - leading to a sort of litmus test for our type of physics that goes "where scientists similar to us exist, the laws of physics must be like ours." On the other hand, it's possible that our existence proves nothing more than the fact that intelligent life and the physics in our universe are simply not mutually incompatible - a conclusion that the authors describe as "nice, but hardly surprising."

The paper implies that the anthropic claim that "we observe things the way they are because otherwise we wouldn't be here to see them" should take a back seat to the search for fundamental explanations for why our physical laws must be the ones we have.

James Riordon | American Physical Society
Further information:
http://www.aps.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold
26.06.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>