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Monday
May032010

RS08 - The Anthropic Principle

Release date: May 9, 2010


The Anthropic Principle (AP), in its many forms, attempts to explain why our observations of the physical universe are compatible with the life observed in it. From the Weak AP (WAP), which in one form states that "conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist", to the Strong AP (SAP) which in one version states that: “The Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage,” they all try to answer the question of why there is life in the universe, or why the fundamental constants are the way they are. But, do any of these principles add anything to our understanding of the ultimate question of life and the universe?

Perhaps the best answer is embedded in Martin Gardner’s sarcastic proposal of the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP): “At the instant the Omega Point is reached, life will have gained control of all matter and forces not only in a single universe, but in all universes whose existence is logically possible; life will have spread into all spatial regions in all universes which could logically exist, and will have stored an infinite amount of information, including all bits of knowledge which it is logically possible to know. And this is the end.”

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Reader Comments (2)

Re Wheeler's Participatory Anthropic Principle, I think he is correct and your criticisms of his approach can be answered as follows:

1. How does one separate the observer from the Universe? Simple - just do it, silly :). Define John's Universe as everything in the Universe except John's consciousness. Do the same for Mary, and the the result is a Universe equivalent to what you might call the physical universe. If this is unsatisfactory, then let U1 = the Universe without a physical John, U2 = the Universe withouse Mary, and the difference between U , U1, and U2 is infinitesimally small.

2. The observer effect in quantum mechanics applies to every single thing we do and know. It is a difficult concept to grasp, and believe, but it is a law like any other, and applicable at every level of physics, not just for very small particles. Something simple does not exist unless it is observed.

May 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schreier

simple* = simply in last sentience sic

May 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schreier

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