Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Many Universes

Tom Smith has a good observation:
A type of intelligent design that has some physicists and cosmologists worried is the idea that the cosmological constant appears to be very finely tuned so that the universe can have life in it. . . . [T]his is awkward if you really hate the idea of a universe that looks like it was built for us. So what to do?

. . . It looks like string theory may have a very, very large number of solutions, on the order of ten to the 500th power large, and so there would be that many universes. Each of these universes would have different physical laws. This would allow you to say, our universe has not been designed, it just so happens we live in one of the universes, perhaps the only one, where beings like us, 3D carbon based beings, could live. So life is an accident after all! We are just very lucky, that's all.

* * *

This is so confused, as the saying goes, it is not even wrong. It is not evidence that there exist a practically infinite number of universes, that the universe we can observe appears to be very special, or at least hospitable to us. If the only color you can see is red, and you come across a red car, this is not evidence that there must exist cars in a nearly infinite variety of colors, for otherwise it would be highly unlikely you would come across just the sort of car you can see. That is a very strange way of looking at things. It seems just as sensible to think that cars are red or that you just got lucky. Or perhaps even that someone bought a car just for you, though that hypothesis is hardly proven, it is at least as likely as the many cars hypothesis. These physicists need to get a grip on the concept of evidence. Maybe they should go to law school.


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