What to Read: The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent life

Letters to Nature

I’ve spent a lot of time critiquing articles on the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life. I should really give the other side of the story. Below are some of the good ones, ranging from popular level books to technical articles. I’ve given my recommendations for popular cosmology books here.

Books – Popular-level

  • Just Six Numbers, Martin Rees – Highly recommended, with a strong focus on cosmology and astrophysics, as you’d expect from the Astronomer Royal. Rees gives a clear exposition of modern cosmology, including inflation, and ends up giving a cogent defence of the multiverse.
  • The Goldilocks Enigma, Paul Davies – Davies is an excellent writer and has long been an important contributor to this field. His discussion of the physics is very good, and includes a description of the Higgs mechanism. When he strays into metaphysics, he is thorough and thoughtful, even when he is defending…

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Fine-Tuning and the Myth of “One variable at a time”

Do fine-tuners just vary one variable at a time? Could we find more, friendlier universes by spinning multiple dials?

Letters to Nature

A commenter over at my post “Got a cosmology question?” asks:

Someone told me “there is not a single paper which finds fine tuning that has allowed multivariation”. Can you please refute this?

Incidentally, cosmology questions are still very welcome over there.

“Multivariation” is not a word, but in this context presumably means varying more than one variable at a time. There is an objection to fine-tuning that goes like this: all the fine-tuning cases involve varying one variable only, keeping all other variables fixed at their value in our universe, and then calculating the life-permitting range on that one variable. But, if you let more than one variable vary at a time, there turns out to be a range of life-permitting universes. So the universe is not fine-tuned for life.

This is a myth. The claim quoted by our questioner is totally wrong. The vast majority of fine-tuning/anthropic papers…

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Sydney Workshop on Fine-Tuning — Letters to Nature

On the 24-25 November, 2016, Geraint Lewis and I will be running the 2016 Fine-tuning, the Multiverse and Life Workshop, hosted at the University of Sydney. We’re hoping to get a good crowd of physicists, astronomers and philosophers together to chat about these interesting issues. Register now! Abstract: Issues of fine-tuning and naturalness are central to […]

via Sydney Workshop on Fine-Tuning — Letters to Nature