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
Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators
14.12.2018 | DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet
14.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy