Thursday, January 17, 2008

More On The Latest In Cosmological Science

Yesterday I referenced this article in The New York Times, which covered the esoterica of contemporary scientific cosmology. Today, from the On Faith forum at The Washington Post/Newsweek, comes this little appreciative piece, and the comment section, in which people wax at turns eloquent, insane, and a tad ignorant, on the issues.

Part of the problem with a glib reference to something as deep as theoretical cosmology is that there are standards scientists use. To use one example, the assumptions involved in theorizing a preference for creating partial universes, planets, even floating brains, comes from the law of thermodynamics. Any statistical analysis of the thermodynamics of the universe would almost certainly preclude a universe populated by billions of galaxies, containing hundreds of billions of stars. On one of those planets, incredible as it seems, there is a planet where chemical processes have led to things that are self-propelled, nourishment-seeking, reproduce themselves (roughly), take in certain gaseous compounds to aid in the chemical processes to sustain this other activity. One of these beings has evolved to the point where it can actually wonder "how" and "why" and discover what a statistical fluke the entire structure of the known universe is, let alone its own existence is.

More than anything else, I believe that is the lesson behind all the strange things in contemporary cosmology. All things being equal, our universe is a fluke of some initial flaw in the Big Bang, which has spurred further flaws down the line, which lead to an article in The New York Times talking about free-floating brains in space. It isn't that they are there, or might be; it's just that the equations tell us they are far more likely, statistically speaking, that human civilization sitting on the third planet of an average star asking how such things as floating brains are possible.

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