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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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Genesis Vision
Learning Planet
Organic Universe
Earth Life Emerge
Genesis Future
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III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet Lifescape

G. Anthropic, Biotropic, Earthropic Principles

Anthropic Principle. www.anthropic-principle.com. This website managed by philosopher Nick Bostrom is a good source of almost everything about this subject and comes with a primer and extensive bibliography.

Here you will find both popular overviews and scholarly material on everything related to observation selection effects, the anthropic principle, self-locating belief, and associated applications and paradoxes in science and philosophy.

Consolidation of Fine-Tuning. http://finetune.physics.ox.ac.uk/. This is a Templeton funded website, online mid 2015, with an original astrophysicist core of Roger Davies, David Sloan, Khalil Chamcham, Rafael Batista and Joseph Silk. Click an Events tab for workshops such as Life in the Universe, Other Earths, and Stars, Galaxies, and the Multiverse. Programs can be viewed, and for the first meeting, abstracts and slides by speakers Ard Louis, Bernard Carr, and George Ellis, for example second quote. A book is planned in 2018 with the website title from presentations from at a Physics of Fine Tuning Conference held in June 2017, (https://icpfit.physics.ox.ac.uk/). Speakers included Fred Adams, Luke Barnes, Joe Silk, an array whom are wondering about very curious energetic and atomic qualities. Some chapters have been posted, search A. Loeb, M. Livio.

Our goal is to consolidate the idea of fine-tuning across disciplines such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Fine-tuning is often deemed a fact and used to reach grandiose metaphysical conclusions by philosophers, theologians, and even physicists, without a proper understanding of the underlying assumptions entailed by these arguments. We intend to present a comprehensive review of the physics used for deriving fine-tuning arguments, scrutinising the current ones and uncovering new examples, thereby providing a solid foundation for future efforts to interpret this fascinating facet of Nature. (Mission)

The deep underlying structures for all that exist are eternal and unchanging possibility spaces. These exist in some abstract Platonic sense: they must be distinguished from our knowledge of them, which is culture bound and changes with time. This epistemic fact does not alter their ontological nature. They come in two major classes: possibility spaces for abstract entities, such as logic, mathematics, and algorithms, and possibility spaces for physical entities, such as electrons, quarks, photons, atoms, molecules, crystals, rocks, planets, stars, and galaxies, as well as for living beings and their components. It is the latter that relate to the anthropic issue. Underlying Waddington’s evolutionary landscapes, which are possibility spaces occurring in given ecological contexts, is a deeper structure of biomolecular possibilities that enable the problematic evolutionary timescale problem to be resolved, as explained by Andreas Wagner in his Arrival of the Fittest. The foundational issues regarding the values of the constants of nature and the existence of life do not just involve creation of galaxies, stars, and planets where all the elements for life occur, as usually discussed: they involve why the values of these constants are such as to allow existence of the biological possibility spaces. (Abstract, George Ellis)

Adams, Fred C.. The Degree of Fine-Tuning in our Universe – and Others. arXiv:1902.03928. In a 212 page paper to appear in Physics Reports, the collegial University of Michigan astrophysicist (search) enters a broad and deep mathematical survey to date of a stochastic infinity of exo-cosmoses. Its sections go from Particle Parameters, Cosmological Features, Dark Energy, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, to Galactic Structures, Stellar Evolution, Solar Planets, and more. The main theme is the contingency of this temporally unfolding universe, and myriad vicarious others, with regard to how they might permit living, developmental systems. A conclusion is that while particle values are sharply tuned, astrophysical vistas allow a wider space (wiggle room). A general surmise so far is that our universe with sapient observers may be a better or maximal case. One might note that such witnesses apply J. A. Wheeler’s participatory model whence any extant cosmos requires an internal self-recognition to attain full existence. See also concurrent papers by McCullen Sandora herein.

Both fundamental constants that describe the laws of physics and cosmological parameters that determine the cosmic properties must fall within a range of values in order for the universe to develop astrophysical structures and support life. This paper reviews current constraints on these quantities. The standard model of particle physics contains both coupling constants and particle masses, and the allowed ranges of these parameters are discussed. We then consider cosmic parameters, including the total energy density, vacuum energy density, baryon-to-photon ratio, dark matter contribution, and the amplitude of primordial density fluctuations. These quantities are constrained by the requirements that the universe lives for a long time, emerges from the BBN epoch with an acceptable chemical composition, and can produce galaxies.

On smaller scales, stars and planets must be able to form and function. The planets must be massive enough to maintain an atmosphere, small enough to remain non-degenerate, and support a complex biosphere. These requirements place constraints on the gravitational constant fine structure constant, and nuclear reaction rates. We consider specific instances of fine-tuning in stars, including the triple alpha reaction that produces carbon, and effects of unstable deuterium. For all of these issues, viable universes exist over a range of parameter space. (Abridged Abstract)

Balbus, Steven. Dynamical, Biological, and Anthropic Consequences of Equal Lunar and Solar Angular Radii. Proceedings of the Royal Society A. Online June, 2014. An Oxford University astrophysicist muses that similar included angles for sun light and moon beams, although located far apart, have provided long stable periods of tidal pools for life to complexify, form limbs and to come aground. OK

The nearly equal lunar and solar angular sizes as subtended at the Earth is generally regarded as a coincidence. This is, however, an incidental consequence of the tidal forces from these bodies being comparable. Comparable magnitudes implies strong temporal modulation, as the forcing frequencies are nearly but not precisely equal. We suggest that on the basis of paleogeographic reconstructions, in the Devonian period, when the first tetrapods appeared on land, a large tidal range would accompany these modulated tides. This would have been conducive to the formation of a network of isolated tidal pools, lending support to A.S. Romer's (1933) classic idea that the evaporation of shallow pools was an evolutionary impetus for the development of chiridian limbs in aquatic tetrapodomorphs. Since even a modest difference in the Moon's angular size relative to the Sun's would lead to a qualitatively different tidal modulation, the fact that we live on a planet with a Sun and Moon of close apparent size is not entirely coincidental: it may have an anthropic basis. (Abstract)

The very near angular sizes of the Moon and Sun as seen from the Earth are a mathematical by-product of the existence half-meter, highly modulated, quasi-periodic equilibrium tides associated with a planet of order 1 AU from a Sun-like star. These conditions have been examined quantitatively in this work by explicit calculation of the equilibrium tides under a variety of different assumptions. It is probably rare for a planet to harbour highly complex macroscopic organisms (though hard data on this are of course scarce!), and it must also be unlikely for a planet to have a large moon nearly matching the central star in angular diameter. (10)

Ball, Philip and Eshel Ben-Jacob. Water as the Fabric of Life. European Physical Journal Special Topics. Online February, 2014. The British science writer and a Tel Aviv University biophysicist introduce an issue on novel appreciations of this vital fluid sustenance. By several unique features such as “strong solvent-induced forces for protein-folding,” water is seen to possess an array of properties analogous to physical phenomena, which then seem uncannily suitable for biology and evolution. Altogether an ordained, organic nature is ever implied, as if a fertile, amniotic, embryonic cosmos.

Many share the feeling that we are at in the midst of a shift in our perception of water – a shift from the current molecular-level based approach (which focuses on the behaviour of individual or small numbers of molecules) towards a new, systemic view of water. In this new picture, water is perceived as an active substance that responds adaptively to external and internal constraints and signals. These responses can have profound effects on substances immersed in water, and in particular on the functioning of biological constituents, from molecules to living cells. This special volume presents some existing and possible future directions in this trend towards a systemic view of water as an active substance, which plays many essential roles in sustaining life. The work reported here suggests that the notion of water as “life's solvent” should give way to the new realisation of water as an active “fabric of life”, continuously engaging and interacting with biomolecules in complex and subtle ways. (Abstract)

In short, one has to regard the properties of water even on the molecular scale as ones that are emergent and interdependent, in a manner that is analogous to the way in which particle masses in fundamental physics are now seen to be an emergent consequence of their interactions. (2) The way water adaptively responds to external and internal constraints, cues and signals by generation of complex organization on all scales is reminiscent of the adaptive response of living systems. (4)

Barnes, Luke. Testing the Multiverse: Bayes, Fine-Tuning and Typicality. arXiv:1704.01680. The University of Sydney astronomer (search) posts his presentation at a 2014 London Philosophy of Cosmology conference, whose proceedings are to appear in June 2017, search Khalil Chamcham. As a coauthor with Geraint Lewis of A Fortunate Universe (2016), this entry discusses anthropic themes along with Bayesian “theory testing” methods for better iterations of “relative certainties or credences.” It is scary wondrous that inquisitive, globally cognizant peoples can imagine whole cosmoses at all. With 400th anniversary events underway for Galileo, what can these expansive vistas from our moon to a multiverse ever portend? As latest currents seem to presage, human beings ought to have a significant purpose in the actual scheme of things. See also a later edition Fine-Tuning in the Context of Bayesian Theory Testing at arXiv:1707.03965.

Theory testing in the physical sciences has been revolutionized in recent decades by Bayesian approaches to probability theory. Here, I will consider Bayesian approaches to theory extensions, that is, theories like inflation which aim to provide a deeper explanation for some aspect of our models (in this case, the standard model of cosmology) that seem unnatural or fine-tuned. In particular, I will consider how cosmologists can test the multiverse using observations of this universe. (Abstract)

If the evolution of conscious observers shows a strong preference for certain laws or certain regions of parameter space, then an explanation for the values of the constants naturally arises. The reason why this set of constants exists at all is that there are a sufficiently large number of universe domains, with enough variation in their properties that at least one of them would hit on the right combination for life. The reason why we observe that we are in one of these rare regions is that we couldn’t be anywhere else. (12)

Barnes, Luke. The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life. Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. 29/4, 2012. A University of Sydney astrophysicist, formerly at ETH Zurich, achieves one of the best 21st century entries on this issue since the 1986 tome The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. In so doing, it faces the problems that beset physical cosmology due to a tangle of string theories, multiverse versions, personal opinions, and so on. As a talking point, the paper reviews and sets aside Victor Stegner’s 2011 The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe is Not Designed for Us, much afflicted by his atheism. In response, the evolutionary appearance of reflective sentience able to gain such witness is indeed made possible by a unique concatenation of parameters, constants, and natural laws. Luke Barnes is careful in his measure, but the case is stated – at some point it need be asked and answered whether there is a greater reality made and meant for our edifying cognizance, or not.

The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life has received a great deal of attention in recent years, both in the philosophical and scientific literature. The claim is that in the space of possible physical laws, parameters and initial conditions, the set that permits the evolution of intelligent life is very small. I present here a review of the scientific literature, outlining cases of fine-tuning in the classic works of Carter, Carr and Rees, and Barrow and Tipler, as well as more recent work. We will touch on such issues as the logical necessity of the laws of nature; objectivity, invariance and symmetry; theoretical physics and possible universes; entropy in cosmology; cosmic inflation and initial conditions; galaxy formation; the cosmological constant; stars and their formation; the properties of elementary particles and their effect on chemistry and the macroscopic world; the origin of mass; grand unified theories; and the dimensionality of space and time. I also provide an assessment of the multiverse, noting the significant challenges that it must face. (Abstract excerpts)

Conclusions and Future We conclude that the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life. Of all the ways that the laws of nature, constants of physics and initial conditions of the universe could have been, only a very small subset permits the existence of intelligent life. (63) Will future progress in fundamental physics solve the problem of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, without the need for a multiverse? There are a few ways that this could happen. We could discover that the set of life-permitting universes is much larger than previously thought. This is unlikely, since the physics relevant to life is low-energy physics, and thus well-understood. (561)

Alternatively, we could discover that the set of possible universes is much smaller than we thought. This scenario is much more interesting. Anthropic coincidences, on the other hand, involve a happy consonance between a physical quantity and the requirements of complex, embodied intelligent life. The anthropic coincidences are so arresting because we are accustomed to thinking of physical laws and initial conditions as being unconcerned with how things turn out. Physical laws are material and efficient causes, not final causes. There is, then, no reason to think that future progress in physics will render a life-permitting universe inevitable. When physics is finished, when the equation is written on the blackboard and fundamental physics has gone as deep as it can go, fine-tuning may remain, basic and irreducible. (561) Finally, it would be the ultimate anthropic coincidence if beauty and complexity in the mathematical principles of the fundamental theory of physics produced all the necessary low-energy conditions for intelligent life. (562)

Barnes, Luke. The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Life. arXiv:21110.07783. The Western Sydney University astrophysicist (search) contributes a chapter for the Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics (Sept. 2021) goes beyond physical parameters so to wonder deeply about the overt fact that the natural cosmos is capable of giving rise to living entities.

e-tuning in physics serves as impetus to search for a better theory, one which can account for the facts in a more natural way, without unmotivated assumptions. But what could naturally explain a life-permitting universe? Perhaps we won the cosmic lottery: a life-permitting universe exists, despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, because the universe as a whole consists of a vast, variegated ensemble of sub-universes — a multiverse. (7)

Barrow, John. Life, the Universe, but Not Quite Everything. Physics World. 12/12, 1999. A millennium update on the perception of finely tuned physical constants that are indispensible for biological complexity.

….it is clear that there are many aspects of our universe’s global and local structure, and of its laws and other defining constants, that appear to be crucial for the existence of life as we know it. (34)

Barrow, John and Frank Tipler. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Still a premier authoritative compendium both on this topic and a teleological universe. The presence of uniquely appropriate numerical qualities for the occurrence and evolution of life are noted from quantum domains to biochemical intricacies and onto astrophysical reaches.

Barrow, John, et al, eds. Fitness of the Cosmos for Life: Biochemistry and Fine-Tuning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Reviewed more in An Organic Cosmos, in the tradition of Lawrence Henderson’s classic The Fitness of the Environment, these proceedings of a Templeton conference go beyond critical physical parameters suitable for our anthropic presence and show that myriad properties of biochemical and cellular materiality also seem precisely, uncannily tailored for the appearance and evolution of living entities. By this ‘biotropic’ addition, cosmic nature is further imbued with a fertile propensity for life and persons.

Bostrom, Nick. Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy. New York: Routledge, 2002. An extended thought experiment applied to anthropic reasoning which argues from various positions that human beings are here because of precise cosmic parameters. A wide ranging and clever essay which asks how much is this view affected by and dependent upon our biased persuasions.

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