On 2/9/2011 7:18 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
Brent and 1Z,

The paper you referenced says the following:
"No doubt life, as we know it, depends sensitively on the parameters of our universe. However, other forms of life might exist under different conditions."

I agree with that statement. Certainly there are other arrangements of laws which would permit life to exist. The question is how often is it, among all possible structures, that intelligent life is possible? It does not appear easy. Try inventing your own set of physical laws which if followed from the beginning to the end which would permit life to evolve and exist. It takes a lot of consideration and thought for people to design virtual realities which support artificial life (alife), even when it is very simple compared to the life we know. Consider what is necessary just to support evolution:

1. An chemistry rich enough to construct self-replicating machines
2. The ability for life to reliably encode, read and copy information (necessary to record results of natural experiments, as DNA does for us) 3. Unreachable entities (in our case stars) which provide limited energy/resources at a fixed rate for life forms to compete over during the course of trillions of generations 4. This energy source must not easily attainable or duplicated by life (if fusion were biologically possible life would consume all the potential energy long before it could evolve intelligence) 5. No easy shortcut to get an unlimited or infinite amount of energy (Something like the laws of thermodynamics, otherwise life has no incentive to increase in complexity once it discovers such a trick) 6. Re-usability or resupply of materials used by life (If biological material or waste can't be broken down to be reused by other life forms then such material or resources would run out) 7. Long term stability of environment and constancy of physical laws, otherwise life would be quickly wiped out or the validity of the information recorded from natural experiments becomes invalidated

I think the above rules are necessary not just for life as we know it in this universe, but life anywhere. Our own universe seems just complex enough, but no more complex than is necessary, to provide each of these requirements. What do you think the chances are that any random object in Plato's heaven, or any random Turing machine will support intelligent life? 1 in 10, 1 in 1000, 1 in a billion?

You kind of jumped categories there. Life doesn't take place in Platonia and it isn't computed on random Turing machines. For all you know 1-7 supra are each practically inevitable. Just because you can talk about universes with different parameter values doesn't show they exist or that they are more probable than the one universe we know to exist.



I think the universe's apparent Fine-Tuning is controversial only to a few general types of audiences: 1. Physicists who believe in a grand theory of everything which will explain logically why this universe has to have the physical laws it does, and why no other physical laws are possible. 2. Those who consider the idea that there are multiple universes to be ridiculous or unscientific. 3. Those who consider it only as a justification for intelligent design theories.

You apparently didn't read Vic's paper. He considers each parameter claimed to be fine-tuned and shows that it either is merely a convention or that it could take a significant range of values without precluding life.


Fine-tuning is a direct consequence of the anthropic principle once one assumes multiple universes. Say you were completely agnostic on the question of there being other universes, but you decided the probability of any random universe having those seven necessary properties necessary for life was 1 in 1000. You must then decide between there being only one universe (the one you see) and wonder why we were fortunate enough to hit the 1 in 1000 chance to be alive, or you conclude multiple universes exist, and there is no mystery or luck involved. One's confidence that there is only 1 universe should be roughly proportional to the likelihood that life exists in any randomly selected possible universe.

Unlikely things happen all the time. By your argument there must be many Jason Resch's.



That the Anthropic Principle + Mathematical Realism explains the appearance of Fine Tuning is just one of its many attractions. Among the other appeals of mathematical realism are that it answers some longstanding questions:

That it could explain anything is one of it's flaws.


Eugene Wigner's "The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve." Einstein's "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible."
John Wheeler's "Why these particular equations, not others?"

If mathematical reality is taken as true the appearance of a physical reality is a direct consequence. If one starts with a physical reality, however, one

I am curious to know at what point do you consider the items in this progression to no longer be real and what point you begin to apply the label of immaterial or abstract:

I don't take anything to be the "really real". There are degrees of confidence, but the list below is not a progression by my estimation. I feel fairly confident in 3. 1 and 2 are good working hypotheses. 4 is speculative. The rest are abstractions or fictions.

1. The matter and space beyond our cosmological horizon which we can neither see nor interact with 2. Other theorized cosmic inflation events (new big bangs) happening elsewhere or very far away
3. Events or people which exist in the distant past
4. Other branches of the multiverse as postulated by Everett
5. Other solutions to string theory which define other possible physics
6. Altogether different physical laws and universes, defined by the equations completely unlike those of string theory 7. Universes which exist with simple rules, finite state automata like John Conway's game of life
8. Turing machines executing programs
9. Mathematical structures defined by equations, such as the Mandelbrot set
10. Simpler mathematical structures, spheres, circles, triangles
11. Integers

If Mathematical objects have an objective reality then what is abstract vs. what is physical becomes a matter of perspective. You call this world physical because it is the abstract mathematical object you find yourself in, someone in another mathematical object / universe might consider this one we inhabit to be abstract. I see no value in placing labels of existence of "physically real" to anything which is possible, but a lot of value from deciding possible things exist too.

"Possible" is a very ambiguous word. Logically possible = not self contradictory, is the weakest kind of possible. Nomologically possible is a little stronger. What kind of possible do you mean?

It answers many questions and eliminates the apparent arbitrariness which is required for this to be the only possible reality. Have scientists discovered any principle or evidence which suggests this is the only possible universe? If not what is your motivation for believing it?

Has science found any principle or evidence suggesting there is no teapot in orbit around Jupiter?

Brent


Jason


On Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 1:15 PM, Brent Meeker <meeke...@dslextreme.com <mailto:meeke...@dslextreme.com>> wrote:

    On 2/9/2011 7:57 AM, Jason Resch wrote:

        1Z,

        How do you define existence?  For something to exist must it
        be something you can see and feel, or would you say it has to
        be something that can be studied objectively?  Would you agree
        that for something to have objective properties, it must
        exist?  Clearly there are things humans have discovered which
        we can't see or feel, but we think they exist because we see
        their effects: wind, dark matter, black holes, etc.  Or
        theories suggest their existence: extra-solar life, strings,
        and so on.

        I would argue that mathematical objects exist because this
        universe's existence does not make sense in isolation.
         Imagine you were in a windowless bathroom.  Should you doubt
        the existence of the rest of the world because you cannot see
        it, or would there be clues to support the existence of things
        outside that room?  The finely tuned physical constants, laws,
        dimensions, etc. of this universe suggest that this universe
        is one of many, perhaps one among all possible structures.
         Just as we see the affects of wind and know it exists, one
        can look at the fine tuning of this universe and believe in
        the existence of all possible structures.  Every such
        structure is a mathematical entity.  If you doubt the
        existence of mathematical objects, how do you explain fine
        tuning? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe )

        Jason


    Fine-tuning is a very speculative and poorly supported peg to hang
    existence on:

    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Fallacy/FTCosmo.pdf

    Brent

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