Is superintelligence cheating the physics of our universe?

In part two of his talk at the Dallas Science and Faith Conference (2021), philosopher Steve Meyer discusses pioneering astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915- 2001) how to deal with the fact that the universe appears to be fine-tuned for life. Hoyle’s widely quoted comment on the subject is that “common-sense interpretations of the facts suggest that superintelligence complements physics, chemistry, and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth mentioning in nature.” For the well-known atheist Hoyle It was a disturbing thought for Il, and he certainly managed to get around it. How is he doing?

Dr. Meyer, Author The Return of the God Hypothesis (Harper One, 2021), reflecting Hoyle’s struggle. (A sample of the book is here.) This is the second of four parts of the transcript of the conversation. The first part is here. Tom Gilson is the host of the podcast:


Stephen C. Meyer: Now, some of the most important fine-tuning parameters have been discovered for the first time by British-Australian astronomer and astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle. Hoyle was a staunch atheist early in his career. In fact, he was quoted as saying, “Religion is nothing but a desperate attempt to find a way out of the truly horrific situation in which we find ourselves.” [Harper’s Magazine, 1951] He went on to say that people didn’t like him because he took away hope by saying things like that.

In any case, Hoyle is working on a theory of how carbon is formed. He was struck by a big mystery, namely, why is there so much carbon in the universe? He realized that carbon is important because it forms the long chains of molecules necessary for the existence of any form of life. Without carbon there is no possibility of life.

He started thinking about the different ways carbon might have formed. He is studying stellar nucleosynthesis, the study of how elements larger than helium and hydrogen are formed when stars burn. He encountered a mystery. Physicists had thought that the way to build heavier elements was to add one nucleus at a time, what they called nucleons—neutrons or protons.

So if there is one helium atom, you have two neutrons and two protons.To get carbon with six neutrons and six protons, the idea [was] You’ll add neutrons and protons one at a time, and then gradually build up into heavier chemical elements. The thing is, there’s something called the 5-nucleon crack, which is just a way of saying that when you add a nucleon to a helium atom (whether it’s a proton or a neutron), the atom isn’t stable. Its half-life is very small.

You can think of it as a kind of ladder where the rungs are missing. You can get helium from hydrogen. But going beyond helium to anything heavier is impossible, because when you add a nucleus, that chemical state is unstable and disappears instantly.

Another theory is that maybe three helium molecules collide at the same time to form a carbon [molecule]. Helium has an atomic weight of four. If you had three, you would get 12; that would be six neutrons, six protons – and you would be happy. But again, the chances of having three helium atoms colliding at the same time are slim to none.

So Hoyle and other scientists were scratching their heads: “How can we form carbon? How do we explain that the astonishing abundance of carbon in the universe makes life possible?”

Now, what he finally proposes is that helium will bond with a heavier element, beryllium, which has an atomic weight of eight. This is possible because you can make two heliums form a beryllium, then beryllium and a helium can form, and then you have carbon.

But this is also problematic.When beryllium 8 and helium 4 combine, a carbon molecule is created with an energy level of above Standard carbon, the carbon we see all around us.In fact, it has a very precise Resonance level 7.65 MEV (Megaelectron Volts).this is only That More dynamic than regular carbon.So Hoyle asked Willie Fowler, a physicist at Caltech, if he would like to do some experiments to see if there were any [natural] The carbon form with this higher resonance level.

He found there was. But then, when Hoyle started thinking about the problem, he realized that a lot of things had to be right inside the star in order to produce carbon at resonance. The combination of beryllium and helium, in particular, must reach speeds high enough to overcome their repulsive electromagnetic forces. But the star has to be hot enough to generate these critical velocities. But that only happens when gravity pulls atoms together — overcoming these electromagnetic forces — just right during stellar nucleosynthesis. If the gravity inside the star is too weak, the temperature won’t get hot enough for atoms to combine to achieve such high energy levels. But if gravity is too strong, nucleosynthesis will happen too quickly, and stars will burn too quickly. And we’ll never get a stable planetary system that could host life.

So it’s a mystery. It appears that, in order for carbon to form, gravity has to be very finely tuned, and it has to be in just the right balance with electromagnetic forces. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a whole bunch of these so-called cosmic coincidences in which everything has to be just right to explain what’s necessary for life. Just to create carbon, here are five cosmic coincidences:

1. Gravity (physicist [call] The force constants that determine the exact strength of gravity have to be just right. If it were bigger, the stars would be too hot, and they would burn too quickly and unevenly. If the gravitational constant and gravitational force were smaller, the star would stay so cool that nuclear fusion would never ignite. So there will never be any heavy element production.

2. The electromagnetic force constant must also be delicately balanced. If it were larger, no chemical bonding would occur, and elements heavier than boron 1 would be too unstable to fission. If it is smaller, it is not enough to produce chemical bonding. that’s it.

3. and 4. The other fundamental forces of physics, the so-called strong and weak nuclear forces, must also be delicately balanced. If any of these forces are too large or too small, no stable element will form. The basic chemistry of life is impossible, and we won’t have a universe that would allow life to exist.

5. On top of that, it turns out that the quarks, the fundamental units of matter that make up protons and neutrons, must have very precise masses for the correct nuclear reactions to occur, resulting in the correct elements, such as carbon and carbon, which are necessary for the universe to allow life to exist. oxygen. In terms of the mass of quarks, there are up quarks and down quarks. Nine different sets of criteria must be met simultaneously to make the basic chemistry of life possible.

As Hoyle began to reflect on it all, it occurred to him that we live in a Goldilocks universe where everything is just right. The power is neither too strong nor too weak. The crowd is neither too big nor too small. He begins to rethink his staunchly materialistic atheistic worldview…

Next: How detailed is the debut of our universe? The mind is in chaos.

This is part one: if DNA is a language, who is the speaker? Philosopher Steve Meyer talks about the importance of the Francis Crick sequence hypothesis, which suggested that DNA is a language of life. What kind of speaker can speak a language that produces living things? Is it the fluctuations of the multiverse, or is it the intelligence that constitutes nature?

You may also want to read: Life is so wonderfully fine-tuned that it’s frightening. A mathematician using statistical methods to model the fine-tuning of molecular machines and systems in cells reflects… Every cell is like a city that cannot function without a complex network of services that must work together to sustain life .

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