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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cosmic "Coincidences" or The Result of "Fine-Tuning"?

"One cosmic coincidence: that there was one extra proton produced in the early universe for every 10 billion or so protons and antiprotons. Without these little guys, matter would have annihilated with antimatter, and there would be no matter left in the universe today, intelligent or otherwise."

"In fact, the origin of the excess of matter over antimatter is one of the most interesting unsolved problems in physics today...This excess is very relevant to our existence."


"It turns out, however, that it is not so easy to design a universe that expands, as our universe does, without either recollapsing very quickly in a reverse big bang -a big crunch- or expanding so fast that there would have been no time for matter to clump together into stars and galaxies. The initial conditions of the universe, or some dynamical physical process early in its history, would have to be very fine tuned to get things just right."


"At a fundamental microphysical level, there is a whole slew of cosmic coincidences that allowed life to [exist] on Earth. If any one of a number of fundamental physical quantities in nature was slightly different, then the conditions essential for the [existence] of life on Earth would not have existed. For example, if the very small mass difference between a neutron and proton (about 1 part in 1000) were changed by only a factor of 2, the abundance of elements in the universe, some of which are essential to life on Earth, would be radically different from what we observe today.

"Along the same lines, if the energy level of one of the excited states of the nucleus of the carbon atom were slightly different, then the reactions that produce carbon in the interiors of stars would not occur and there would be no carbon -the basis of organic molecules- in the universe today." - Lawrence M. Krauss, Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics and Professor of Astronomy and Chairman of the Dept. of Physics at Case Western Reserve University