baudrunner's space: Anthropocentrism — unravelling existence
"Philosophy to Science - Quark to Cosmos. Musings on the Fundamental Nature of reality"

search scientific sources

Friday, February 8, 2008

Anthropocentrism — unravelling existence

Considering the depth which theoretical scientists must often explore in their efforts to gain that deeper understanding of the fundamental nature of reality it is refreshing to note that discussion of the anthropic principle is yet ongoing. Lisa Zyga writes in her article What Anthropic Reasoning Can Really Tell Us that anthropic reasoning is losing credibility as a viable explanation for the existence of our Universe because anthropic conclusions reflect mostly our biases rather than our knowledge. I don't share her point of view. Insomuch that it is possible to bury our heads in too much mathematics (Einstein did it to support his static universe theory — he was wrong) it is also possible to demand too much of empiricism to explain what cannot be tested. Sometimes we really do need a leap of faith.

The conventional description of the anthropic principle states that the Universe is the way it is because we are here to observe it. The notion that if it were any other way than that is the way that it would be and we would still be here to observe it is as much a contradiction of the anthropic principle as supportive of it. That amended description does not sit well with physicists studying it. In essence, anthropocentrism holds that the Universe could only exist as it does to support life. To most theorists this is all just a little too pretty and fortuitous to merit title to viable theory. And therein lies the problem with it. Even if things were so, it is just too difficult to fit it into the context of Big Bang Theory. Life can not be determined to exist so it must be purely coincidental. But the anthropic principle is still too attractive and tempting to dismiss entirely. It is still the only scientific reasoning for the emergence and evolution of life. What is missing in the debate is the perception of a coherent framework to support anthropic reasoning.

Quantum theory can help. If we were to reduce the temperature of the entire Universe and everything in it to absolute zero than everything would condense into a single colossal atom. Thermal dynamics prevents this from happening. But, philosophical as it may sound, we are still essentially all one. Imagining the entire history of the Universe compressed to the time frame of a split second helps us to appreciate the role that time plays in differentiating existence. Nevertheless, everything could be perceived as happening at the same time. Same place, same time. Temporarily harboring those radical ideas will allow us to perhaps see the entire process of creation from that first quantum fluctuation when space, time and matter were first realized to the present to be a singular expression. In fractal terms this expression is not so random. Life is not such a fortuitous event after all. Life is essential to the whole, because the expression has made life manifest and purposeful. Determination of life is essential to the complete anthropocentric nature of the expression. It is not really so unscientific to say that the Universe could not have turned out any other way because any other direction would not have supported life because it's true. In its pure originality the evolution of the Universe is determined to follow the course that it takes because the only influences that might make it different imply directions that do not conform to the reason for this expression in the first place. That would have produced a flawed equation — a mutant fractal expression, if you will. But the point is that we are not co-incidental to the nature of existence.

Like any idea, which is what this grand expression represents, this one too passes in time for the observer. The lifetime of his context — ie. his part of the Universe, is as corporeal and as finite as is his life. Thermal dynamics has given us the frame of reference which allows us to position ourselves in our relative time and place and from which we can see the time cones of the past and the future. I like to think that I can see the big picture so I am comfortable with the idea that creation continues at the periphery of the Universe in the perpetual process of new beginning. We are where we are, not where it has been, and not where it is. It shall pass on.

This implies that the WMAP cold spot represents the earliest period — the beginning of creation's history — notwithstanding that there can be no place in nothing for the Universe to have begun, therefore no center of the Universe, it is here nonetheless and this fact must ascribe to at least that much logical reasoning.

No comments: