The Life of the Cosmos Hardcover – 26 Jun 1997
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Science fans, hold on to your hats! Lee Smolin, a professor at the Center for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at Pennsylvania State University, is about to take you on the ride of your life. Imagine, if you will, the theory of evolution applied to physics. What if our universe is so ideally adapted to life because it developed that way? What if ours is just one among many thousands of universes, all engaged in a cosmic survival-of-the-fittest struggle? These are just two of the wildly original theories Smolin posits in The Life of the Cosmos, in which Alice in Wonderland meets quantum physics. According to Smolin, the majority of today's physicists still regard physical laws as immutable, mathematical and eternally true--to them, the universe is an intricate mechanism, a cosmic clock. But what if the laws of physics aren't really "laws" at all, but rather an evolving, developing process of natural selection that began even before the Big Bang?
From Smolin's initial theory, it's a short step to black holes, alternate universes, string theory, gauge symmetry and knots--all complicated abstractions that Smolin describes and explains in a remarkably comprehensible way. Even if you don't agree with Smolin's science, his book makes for great mind-bending reading and more than a little food for thought. If nothing else, The Life of the Cosmos proves once and for all that there really is intelligent life on this planet. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It is a pleasure to be reminded in detail of how extraordinary this world is. (Times Literary Supplement) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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Lee Smolin argues that the universe is self-organised, a bit like an organism or an ecosystem (though nothing is gained by saying that the universe is actually 'alive'). The universe has evolved and possesses homoeostatic properties that keep many of its components in states far from thermal equilibrium. Another relational principle learnt from Leibniz is that a view of the whole universe as a far-from-equilibrium system does not imply a view-point from outside the universe.
CNS is a Darwinian solution to the 'special-tuning problem', which is the vast improbability that the universe should be set up precisely to suit life (as it seems to be). The answer is that a mechanism of natural selection can produce design without a designer or blueprint. In the case of cosmology, the key is the production of black holes. Assuming each universe is born as a black hole within another universe, then universes take part in a copying competition and the most typical universe (which we may assume ours to be) ought to belong to the lineage with the most fecund universes.
This prediction is testable: by changing any of the parameters of physics in our universe, one will produce a different universe with fewer black holes. It so happens that carbon chemistry (and, hence, carbon-based life-forms) is a natural by-product of maximising the number of black holes in a universe. Thus CNS is a rational alternative to the anthropic cosmological principle.
This is altogether a sensible and well-made argument and brilliantly original. Highly recommended.
However I need to know why these other universes on the other side of black hole compare with ours. There is only so much energy around so each must be pretty limited and since they drain this one, I'm surprised we are still here.
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