Cover of the hardcover edition
|Subjects||Physics, Fecund universes|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|January 1, 1997|
|Followed by||Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (2001)|
The Life of the Cosmos is the debut non-fiction book by American theoretical physicist Lee Smolin. The book was initially published on January 1, 1997 by Oxford University Press.
In the book, Smolin details his Fecund universes which applies the principle of natural selection to the birth of universes. Smolin posits that the collapse of black holes could lead to the creation of a new universe. This daughter universe would have fundamental constants and parameters similar to that of the parent universe though with some changes, providing for both inheritance and mutations as required by natural selection. However, while there is no direct analogue to Darwinian selective pressures, it is theorised that a universe with "unsuccessful" parameters will reach heat death before being able to reproduce, meaning that certain universal parameters become more likely than others.
Is cosmological natural selection a theory? Yes, because it is testable. The theory predicts that Nature's parameters should be optimized for black hole production. Hence if one changes a coupling constant or a particle mass, the number of black holes should decrease. Theorists can analyze the effects of such a variation through calculations and computer simulations. Unfortunately, it is currently quite difficult to perform such an analysis because a change in a parameter affects the Universe in many disparate ways. Consider varying Newton's gravitational constant, for example. The rate of expansion of the Universe, the collapsing processes that build stars, stellar evolutions and supernova production would all change. There are about 20 parameters that can be varied. Since each may be increased or decreased, there are about 40 tests of the cosmological natural selection principle. The chances that Smolin's theory can accidentally survive all 40 tests is 1 in 2^40 or about 1 in a trillion. The Life of the Cosmos is well written in a highly intellectual style. For example, here are some sentences from a typical paragraph: ". . . If we were interested only in feeling better about ourselves, we might be happy to jump from vitalism to a kind of pantheism according to which life exists because the universe is itself alive. But our goal should be more than inventing a story that explains what we are doing in the universe. . . . What is needed is a deeper understanding of what both life and the universe are that allows us to comprehend why it is natural to find one inhabited by the other."
—Review by Jupiter Scientific
The anthropic principle is a group of principles attempting to determine how statistically probable our observations of the universe are, given that we could only exist in a particular type of universe to start with. In other words, scientific observation of the universe would not even be possible if the laws of the universe had been incompatible with the development of sentient life. Proponents of the anthropic principle argue that it explains why this universe has the age and the fundamental physical constants necessary to accommodate conscious life, since if either had been different, we would not be around to make observations in the first place. Anthropic reasoning is often used to deal with the fact that the universe seems to be fine tuned.
Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and allows study of fundamental questions about its origin, structure, evolution, and ultimate fate. Cosmology as a science originated with the Copernican principle, which implies that celestial bodies obey identical physical laws to those on Earth, and Newtonian mechanics, which first allowed those physical laws to be understood. Physical cosmology, as it is now understood, began with the development in 1915 of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, followed by major observational discoveries in the 1920s: first, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe contains a huge number of external galaxies beyond the Milky Way; then, work by Vesto Slipher and others showed that the universe is expanding. These advances made it possible to speculate about the origin of the universe, and allowed the establishment of the Big Bang theory, by Georges Lemaître, as the leading cosmological model. A few researchers still advocate a handful of alternative cosmologies; however, most cosmologists agree that the Big Bang theory best explains the observations.
The multiverse is a hypothetical group of multiple universes. Together, these universes comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, energy, information, and the physical laws and constants that describe them. The different universes within the multiverse are called "parallel universes", "other universes", "alternate universes", or "many worlds".
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes is a popular-science book on cosmology by English physicist Stephen Hawking. It was first published in 1988. Hawking wrote the book for readers without prior knowledge of the universe and people who are just interested in learning something new.
Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time is equally real, as opposed to presentism or the growing block universe theory of time, in which at least the future is not the same as any other time. Some forms of eternalism give time a similar ontology to that of space, as a dimension, with different times being as real as different places, and future events are "already there" in the same sense other places are already there, and that there is no objective flow of time. It is sometimes referred to as the "block time" or "block universe" theory due to its description of space-time as an unchanging four-dimensional "block", as opposed to the view of the world as a three-dimensional space modulated by the passage of time.
Lee Smolin is an American theoretical physicist, a faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and a member of the graduate faculty of the philosophy department at the University of Toronto. Smolin's 2006 book The Trouble with Physics criticized string theory as a viable scientific theory. He has made contributions to quantum gravity theory, in particular the approach known as loop quantum gravity. He advocates that the two primary approaches to quantum gravity, loop quantum gravity and string theory, can be reconciled as different aspects of the same underlying theory. His research interests also include cosmology, elementary particle theory, the foundations of quantum mechanics, and theoretical biology.
The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology, whose theoretical restrictions allow possible scenarios for the evolution and ultimate fate of the universe to be described and evaluated. Based on available observational evidence, deciding the fate and evolution of the universe has become a valid cosmological question, being beyond the mostly untestable constraints of mythological or theological beliefs. Several possible futures have been predicted by different scientific hypotheses, including that the universe might have existed for a finite and infinite duration, or towards explaining the manner and circumstances of its beginning.
Vacuum energy is an underlying background energy that exists in space throughout the entire Universe. Its behavior is codified in Heisenberg's energy–time uncertainty principle. Still, the exact effect of such fleeting bits of energy is difficult to quantify. The vacuum energy is a special case of zero-point energy that relates to the quantum vacuum.
The heat death of the universe, also known as the Big Chill or Big Freeze, is a conjecture on the ultimate fate of the universe, which suggests the universe would evolve to a state of no thermodynamic free energy and would therefore be unable to sustain processes that increase entropy. Heat death does not imply any particular absolute temperature; it only requires that temperature differences or other processes may no longer be exploited to perform work. In the language of physics, this is when the universe reaches thermodynamic equilibrium.
The Big Bounce is a hypothesized cosmological model for the origin of the known universe. It was originally suggested as a phase of the cyclic model or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang, where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe. It receded from serious consideration in the early 1980s after inflation theory emerged as a solution to the horizon problem, which had arisen from advances in observations revealing the large-scale structure of the universe. In the early 2000s, inflation was found by some theorists to be problematic and unfalsifiable in that its various parameters could be adjusted to fit any observations, so that the properties of the observable universe are a matter of chance. Alternative pictures including a Big Bounce may provide a predictive and falsifiable possible solution to the horizon problem, and are under active investigation as of 2017.
The characterization of the universe as finely tuned suggests that the occurrence of life in the Universe is very sensitive to the values of certain fundamental physical constants and that the observed values are, for some reason, improbable. If the values of any of certain free parameters in contemporary physical theories had differed only slightly from those observed, the evolution of the Universe would have proceeded very differently and life as it is understood may not have been possible.
Leonard Susskind is an American physicist, who is a professor of theoretical physics at Stanford University, and founding director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an associate member of the faculty of Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and a distinguished professor of the Korea Institute for Advanced Study.
The string theory landscape or landscape of vacua refers to the collection of possible false vacua in string theory, together comprising a collective "landscape" of choices of parameters governing compactifications.
Cosmological natural selection also called the fecund universes, is a hypothesis proposed by Lee Smolin intended as a scientific alternative to the anthropic principle. It addresses the problem of complexity in our universe, which is largely unexplained. The hypothesis suggests that a process analogous to biological natural selection applies at the grandest of scales. Smolin published the idea in 1992 and summarized it in a book aimed at a lay audience called The Life of the Cosmos.
Lorentz invariance is a measure of universal features in hypothetical loop quantum gravity universes. The various hypothetical multiverse loop quantum gravity universe design models could have various Lorentz invariance results.
The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next is a 2006 book by the theoretical physicist Lee Smolin about the problems with string theory. The book strongly criticizes string theory and its prominence in contemporary theoretical physics, on the grounds that string theory has yet to come up with a single prediction that can be verified using any technology that is likely to be feasible within our lifetimes. Smolin also focuses on the difficulties faced by research in quantum gravity, and by current efforts to come up with a theory explaining all four fundamental interactions. The book is broadly concerned with the role of controversy and diversity of approaches in scientific processes and ethics.
Observations suggest that the expansion of the universe will continue forever. If so, then a popular theory is that the universe will cool as it expands, eventually becoming too cold to sustain life. For this reason, this future scenario once popularly called "Heat Death" is now known as the "Big Chill" or "Big Freeze".
In loop quantum gravity, the Kodama state is a zero energy solution to the Schrödinger equation.
Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe is a 2013 book by the American theoretical physicist Lee Smolin.