“The universe looks suspiciously like a fix”

“The universe looks suspiciously like a fix” February 28, 2019


European Southern Observatory photo
Astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons takes a break between sessions at the La Silla Observatory in Chile to admire the Milky Way.     (Wikimedia Commons)


A potpourri of science-related items that caught my attention today:


“3 explanations for ‘Oumuamua that aren’t alien spaceships: Possibilities for the interstellar object include a fluffy fractal and a comet skeleton”


“Hayabusa2 just tried to collect asteroid dust for the first time: The Japanese spacecraft will eventually return to Earth, hopefully hauling a sample of Ryugu”


“Top 10 science anniversaries to celebrate in 2019: This year’s noteworthy nostalgia includes births, deaths, expeditions and tabulations”


“Watching hours of TV is tied to verbal memory decline in older people: It’s unclear if television watching actually causes problems with recollection”


“BYU Becomes a Center of Actuarial Excellence”




This place is a genuine treasure.  It’s really quite shameful that I don’t visit it more often than I do:


Brigham Young University Department of Geological Sciences: Museum of Paleontology



“Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth — the universe looks suspiciously like a fix.  The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves.  For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient ‘coincidences’ and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal.  Fred Hoyle, the distinguished cosmologist, once said it was as if “a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics”.

“To see the problem, imagine playing God with the cosmos. Before you is a designer machine that lets you tinker with the basics of physics. Twiddle this knob and you make all electrons a bit lighter, twiddle that one and you make gravity a bit stronger, and so on. It happens that you need to set thirtysomething knobs to fully describe the world about us. The crucial point is that some of those metaphorical knobs must be tuned very precisely, or the universe would be sterile.

“Example: neutrons are just a tad heavier than protons. If it were the other way around, atoms couldn’t exist, because all the protons in the universe would have decayed into neutrons shortly after the big bang. No protons, then no atomic nucleuses and no atoms. No atoms, no chemistry, no life. Like Baby Bear’s porridge in the story of Goldilocks, the universe seems to be just right for life.”

Paul Charles William Davies (English physicist)



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