Multiverses and Anthropic Principles
September 24, 2004

Physicist Lee Smolin has a great paper on the anthropic principle along with a discussion of multiverses and whether they are science. (i.e. are they at least in theory testable) It's a great paper I'm still working through. Lots of discussion and Linde multiverses and the like though. Over at The Edge, there was a summarization of the paper by Smolin along with a brief critique by Leonard Susskind. Also at The Edge was a discussion of the two letters of Smolin and Susskind by Nathan Myhrvold. I thought he did a good job critiquing both.


Notes

Just a note that I find Smolin one of the best physicists to read if you wish to find out what is going on in the world of advanced theoretical physics. Plus, as I mentioned a few months ago, he appears to be a Peircean.

Comments


Posted by: Clark | September 26, 2004 01:01 AM

I noticed few people seemed to be reading this post. I know that doesn't mean they aren't following the links, but it does indicate a certain lack of interest. Admittedly it is a more scientific paper. Although, to be fair, my most popular post is the one on Afshar and Bohr which has had at least one hit a day since I posted it and is still sometimes having ten reads a day. (This amazes me since I posted it two months ago)

Anyway, I admittedly post some of the science stuff simply so I have a record of it and can organize my thoughts somewhat. But I do think Smolin's discussion is important for LDS theology. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago as a summary of my "gut reaction" to the free will approach Ostler makes, LDS theology requires a multiverse with communication between universes. The reason for this is simple. Mormon theology argues that human "souls" in some sense always have existed and always will exist. Further it argues that creation has always been going on, entailing an infinite number of creations. This means that our universe hasn't been around long enough and isn't big enough. The multiverse theory, introduced by Linde, and now fairly mainstreamly accepted, solves this theological problem.

What Smolin argues is not only a kind of communication transfer, but also a kind of evolution of universes by these new births of universes. Further, unlike the kind of speculation by prior physicists which seems impossible to verify empirically, Smolin suggests some ways of dealing with this via black hole bounce. (As an aside, one of my best friends from college did a bunch of postdocs on this very question and just recently was hired by BYU - I keep meaning to ask him about this)

I'd really encourage those interested to check out Smolin's paper, "Scientific alternatives to the anthropic principle". Smolin is a very clear and understandable writer. One of the best to write on advanced physics. His notion of "Cosmological Natural Selection" really is something that I think more philosophers ought to investigate. I've long thought that philosophers neglect science at their peril.


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