Paul Davies and the Self-Explaining Loop

Science works because the universe is ordered in an intelligible way. The most refined manifestation of this order is found in the laws of physics, the fundamental mathematical rules that govern all natural phenomena. One of the biggest questions of existence is the origin of those laws: where do they come from, and why do they have the form that they do? Until recently this problem was considered off-limits to scientists. Their job was to discover the laws and apply them, not inquire into their form or origin. Now the mood has changed.

One reason for this stems from the growing realisation that the laws of physics possess a weird and surprising property: collectively they give the universe the ability to generate life and conscious beings, such as ourselves, who can ponder the big questions. If the universe came with any old rag-bags of laws, life would almost certainly be ruled out. Indeed, changing the existing laws by even a scintilla could have lethal consequences. For example, if protons were 0.1 percent heavier than neutrons, rather than the other way about, all the protons coughed out of the big bang would soon have decayed neutrons Without protons and their crucial electric charge, atoms could not exist and chemistry would be impossible.

From “Laying Down the Laws,” New Scientist (30 June 2007), pp. 301-303


One response to “Paul Davies and the Self-Explaining Loop

  1. You sort of answer your own question – the fundamental constants of the universe have their present values because they can’t have any other values – if they did, the universe would not exist. Its like asking why the value of Pi in Eucledian geometry is 3.14. It is 3.14 because on a flat surface it simply can’t be anything else.

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