top matters!

Paul Arveson (
Thu, 17 Oct 96 11:28:37 EDT

I very much appreciate Ted Davis' comments on the importance of contingency
in the foundations of modern science.

I'm suspicious of Einstein's question about whether God had any choice in the
creation of the world. I don't think it can be taken at face value. IMHO,
Einstein wasn't interested in theology at all, but was simply using God as a
popular metaphor for the rational structure of the world, which was actually
Einstein's conception, following Spinoza.

Theists could re-phrase Einstein's question appropriately.

Once God willed to create a universe outside of Himself, He apparently chose
to create the universe with certain built-in regularities, a kind of
self-consistency of the composition, structure and processes. Although God is
free, He is not "capricious" and He "does not play dice". This is evident to
us: all electrons have the same charge and mass. All protons likewise. All
light goes at the same speed. Furthermore, the regularities are consistent with
each other, so that they seem to form a coherent system. Furthermore, they are
consistent across time, so that experiments are repeatable. Furthermore, they
are SO self-consistent, they form such a reliable reference point that they can
serve as a corrective to our imaginations and fantasies ("theories").

(Quantum mechanics has not fundamentally changed this picture. There is a
wave equation in quantum mechanics, and predictions can be made that agree with
experiment to 12 decimal places.)

Perhaps we could re-phrase Einstein's metaphorical question as follows:
Once God willed to create the universe, and once He defined all the "free
parameters" (of which we know about 40 at present), does this constrain the
composition and structure of the universe? Are there any other sets of
parameters that yield a self-consistent universe that is different from ours?

Recently I heard a lecture by Chris Quigg, a physicist at Fermilab, who
pointed out that "top matters". In other words, although we may think of top as
an obscure heavy particle that now only exists momentarily in high-energy
collisions, it was very influential in the early stages of the universe, and
contributed crucially to "life as we know it". The same goes for all the other
fundamental particles and their coupling constants. I think this is a
reasonable, but profound, conclusion regarding the universe.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20084
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)