Sunday, February 09, 2014
We Are a Cosmic Accident
Maria PopovaFrom Brain Pickings
How we drew the one we have from the zillions of possible universes in the cosmic lottery hat.
Questions like why our world exists and what nothing is have occupied minds great and ordinary since the dawn of humanity, and yet for all our scientific progress, they continue to do so, yielding only hypotheses rather than concrete answers. But there is something immutably heartening in the difference between the primitive hypotheses of myth, folklore and religion, which handed off such mysteries to various deities and the occasional white-bearded man, and the increasingly educated guesses of modern science.
In the title essay of his excellent The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew (public library), which also gave us this beautiful meditation on science and spirituality, Alan Lightman points to fine-tuning — the notion that the basic forces propelling our universe appear to be fine-tuned in such a way as to make the existence of life possible — as a centerpiece of how modern scientists have attempted to answer these age-old question.