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The Universe and Goldilocks

November 18, 2011

Who has not heard of the old tale involving the little girl Goldilocks and the three bears? For those that have not revisited this tale in a while, here is how it begins:

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks.  She  went for a walk in the forest. Pretty soon, she came upon a house.  She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.

At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge. Goldilocks was hungry.  She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.

This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed.

So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.

This porridge is too cold,” she said

So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.

Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.

Ahhh, this Universe is just right!

How can we apply the story of the Goldilocks to the Universe?  Well, According to a growing numbers of scientists in many different fields, the Universe is “finely tuned” or “just right” on a razor sharp edge of precision in order for it to support life.  That if the constants and quantities that set the laws of physics were changed in the most minute way, we would not exist today.  They are finding that so many “coincidences” have occurred to allow for the possibility of life, that it is nearly impossible to imagine.

Is the fine tuning of this life supporting Universe due to Law? Chance? Or Design?

Dr. Dennis Scania, the distinguished head of Cambridge University Observatories says, “If you change a little bit the laws of nature, or you change a little bit the constants of nature — like the charge on the electron — then the way the universe develops is so changed, it is very likely that intelligent life would not have been able to develop.”

What are some of these constants?

In physics there are at least twenty physical constants.  These physical constants are one of the cornerstones of physics – sacred numbers which we know to be fixed.  Below is a list of just a few:

The Gravitational Constant (G) , Strong Force Constant , Weak Force Constant , Cosmological Constant ,  many more….

If we nudge one of these constants just a few percent in one direction, stars burn out within a million years of their formation, and there is no time for evolution. If we nudge it a few percent in the other direction, then no elements heavier than helium form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. No complexity at all.”– Dr. David D. Deutsch, Institute of Mathematics, Oxford University

The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly. You see,” Davies adds, “even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life — almost contrived — you might say a ‘put-up job’.”

– Dr. Paul Davies, noted author and professor of theoretical physics at Adelaide University


How “fine tuned” is the Universe?

Michael Turner, the widely quoted astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab, describes the fine-tuning of the universe with a simile: “The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bulls eye one millimeter in diameter on the other side.”

Here some accepted statistics regarding this fine tuning of the Universe:

If the strong force constant (gs) varied from its value by only 2% – higher of lower – there would have been either no hydrogen or no element heavier than hydrogen, respectively and therefore – no life.

If gravitational (G) electromagnetism, or the electron mass in relation to the proton mass varied by an exceedingly small fraction have been either blue giants or red dwarfs – prohibiting the development of life.

If the gravitational constants (G) or weak force constants (gw) varied from their values (higher or lower) by only one part in 10^50 (a very small fraction – .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001) then the universe would have collapsed or exploded in its expansion – both of which would have prohibited life,

Einstein’s cosmological constant is the rate at which the Universe is currently expanding.  This rate of expansion has been found to be perfectly tuned within 120 orders of magnitude, without which life would be impossible.

Roger Penrose,the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford…

discovered that the likelihood of the universe having usable energy (low entropy) at the creation is one part out of ten to the power of ten to the power of 123 ( 10^10^123). This is an extraordinary and incomprehensible figure! One could not possibly even write the number down in full, in our ordinary (power of ten) notation: it would be one followed by ten to the power of 123 successive zeros! (That is a million billion billion billion billion billion billion billionbillionbillionbillionbillionbillionbillionzeros.)

Even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe — and we could throw in all the other particles as well for good measure — we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed.

Is the fine tuning of this life supporting Universe due to Law? Chance? Or Design?

There are good reasons to believe that the Universe is not due to Law or Chance

Therefore, it is more plausible to suggest that the Universe was designed.

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