The Anthropic Principle examines whether life on Earth exists for a reason or were we all just a catastrophic disaster to the universe…
Often in times of silence we reflect, “why are we here“. Does our species have purpose in this depthless universe? Surely we were put here for a reason. Are we alone in the universe? Why does life exist? Contemplating these thoughts may result in a lot of procrastination and wasted time but none the less are fascinating and mind blowing to think about. The human race has proposed many theories from creationism to evolution but here we are yet to find the answer. While creationism proposes the how and the why we’re here, evolution on the other hand only states how we’re here. Science can’t explain why we’re here but the anthropic principle might be able to point us in the right direction.
I want you to imagine walking into your grandparents house and no ones home. Wondering around, you notice on the kitchen table your favourite meal, beside it your favourite book and a tall glass of Coca-Cola. Is it a coincidence this is here or did your grandparents know you were coming and decided to make you feel at home?
Cosmologists are asking a similar type of question. Cosmologists often apply this question to life on Earth with the Goldilocks principle, which ponders why Earth is “just right” for life. The anthropic principle tackles an even greater question: Why is the universe itself just right for life? Some have pointed out that certain natural features of the universe are particularly well suited to foster the emergence of life, and maybe even facilitate the evolution of intelligent beings. Is it evidence that the universe was set up with the eventual appearance of human life in mind? Or is it simply because our kind of life is likely to emerge in this kind of cosmos?
Strong and Weak versions of the Antropic Principle
In 1973, a cosmologist by the name Brandon Carter formulated two versions of the Anthropic Principle;
The weak version states;
For us to be here, the universe had to exist just as it is.
The strong version states;
It claims that the universe was constrained by the need for life to develop, a suggestion that invokes the idea of purposeful design.
Throughout the years scientists have made remarkable discoveries that add to both versions of this principle that can help explain, why we’re here. For instance, when you compare the electromagnetic force to gravity, we find that electromagnetism is 39 times stronger. It’s crazy because if the two powers were more evenly matched, stars wouldn’t burn long enough for life to develop on an orbiting planet. Scientists refer to this as an anthropic coincidence.
What else in the universe seems fine tuned?
The efficiency with which hydrogen fuses to helium, which has to do with the strength of attraction between particles in an atomic nucleus. It’s about .007. Raise it to .008 and the hydrogen created in the big bang would have turned to helium almost immediately. Reduce it to .006, on the other hand, and helium would never form, the stars thus would never have ignited to give energy for life.
So numerous are these coincidences throughout the universe that proposes the question, is their a creator? Could we be living in a simulation as Elon Musk proposes? However, science never settles on one way of doing things. Could things be different in the universe and still give rise to life?
Without going in to too much detail, yes. You can tweak the laws of physics and still have conditions for life to emerge. Does that mean then we’re the be all and end all? Who knows. I personally don’t think we are.
Many of nights I’ve had a reoccurring dream of a man climbing through my TV to tell me, that he’s found us. That where he came from, it’s us who he’s been looking for. Just like characters in a video game, we know we created them but they don’t know we exist. Could we be characters living in a simulation looking for our creators. And when we find them, how do we know they’re not looking for theirs? When will it end?
To me, life is just an infinite illusion. It’s almost like we’re just stuck in a mirror maze.
Think about it.
SJB & GQ.