[asa] Stars May Not Be So Fine Tuned After All

From: Rich Blinne <rich.blinne@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Jul 30 2008 - 16:56:02 EDT

During our debates concerning intelligent design I have mentioned that I
found the fine tuning argument portion of ID attractive. Yet, I gave a
caveat given the history of such arguments it's best to hold on to such
things lightly. An upcoming paper by Fred Adams in the J. Cosmol. Astropart.
Phys. (Preprint here:
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0807/0807.3697v1.pdf) makes the argument
that at least for stars our Universe may not be so rare after all,
underscoring my hesitancy with the argument. Fred Adams limits himself to
looking at three parameters, G, the gravitational constant, alpha, the fine
structure constant, and C, a composite parameter that determines nuclear
reaction rates. It turns out that roughly one fourth of the parameter space
could support stellar formation. Adams also looks at unconventional stars
that might extend possibilities beyond normal bounds:

"In situations where C = 0, or where the values of the other parameters
conspire to disallow stars (see Fig. 5), other types of stellar objects
could,
in principle, fill the role played by stars in our universe. This section
briefly explores this possibility with three examples: black holes that
generate energy through Hawking evaporation (4.1), degenerate dark matter
stars that generate energy via annihilation (4.2), and degenerate baryonic
matter stars that generate energy by capturing dark matter particles which
then annihilate (4.3)."
This is certainly is not the last word but shows there may well be an
equivalent of the whole God of the gaps problem in cosmological ID that is
found in biological ID. On the other hand, this paper is limited to the
issue of stellar formation and does not deal with the whole issue of
producing life. Again Adams:

"Finally, we note that this paper has focused on the question of whether or
not stars can exist in universe with alternate values of the relevant
parameters. An important and more global question is whether or not these
universes could also support life of some kind. Of course, such questions
are made difficult by our current lack of an a priori theory of life.
Nonetheless, some basic requirements can be identified (with reasonable
certainty): In addition to energy sources (provided by stars), there will be
additional constraints to provide the right mix of chemical elements (e.g.,
carbon in our universe) and a universal solvent (e.g., water). These
additional requirements will place additional constraints on the allowed
region(s) of parameter space."

Note specifically the comment concerning the lack of an a priori theory of
life. Regardless of whether the Universe really is fine tuned or not
determining how much so is fraught with post hoc reasoning and any "odds"
put forth should be taken with a grain -- no, a shaker -- of salt.

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Wed Jul 30 16:56:39 2008

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