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Posted by Harvey on January 20, 2002 19:55:59 UTC

Hi Luis,

***The actual word "why" itself may not be in many of your posts, but I think it underscores your position on many things, especially in the anthropomorphic form I detailed in that last response. Despite the tendency of some to read into 'why,' it is merely the tool that opens the door to cause-effect relationships, and nothing else; it doesn't per se mean anything any deeper.***

I'm sure what why you have a problem in finding explanations for reasonable problems that exist. Asking 'why' is a perfectly suitable question and one in which fuels science.

***What coincidences?***

Try here for starters:

***An 'effective' response is only necessary for those who see the necessity of an 'effective' response. But this perceived necessity stems from the choice to ignore science. Science that has shown us over the years that much of what we used to perceive as 'coincidences' are actually affirmations of evolutionary principles.***

Biological evolutionary theory is in response to similarity of Darwin's finches in various geographical distinct regions (among other species). It answered a 'why' question that was more than a little successful in answering a whole slew of other 'why' questions. It was these 'coincidences' that Darwin et al. gave a common cause (i.e., common ancestry). Trouble is, we are seeing these coincidences (still) in much of science, but especially in cosmology where there are no reasonable natural explanations (e.g., weak anthropic principle) other than apparently the strong anthropic principle (which is what the paper I just posted mentions).

***Remember -- the relationship of two phenomena constitutes a coincidence only if these two phenomena have previously had nothing to do with each other.***

Until a relationship is established they must remain coincidences. This doesn't diminish the need for an explanation for coincidences, on the other hand it doesn't mean a hypothesis that explains those coincidences is necessarily correct either.

***You agree our experience has shown us that unification is a valid principle. But our experience has also shown us that what we often perceive as coincidence is NOT coincidence after all.***

That's right. There is a correlation between the degree that something is considered an unusual coincidence to an eventual solution that arises that dispels those phenomena as coincidences. This is all the more reason to look for an explanation in the cosmos for some explanation as to why these odd coincidences keep popping up.

***(Incidentally, you might want to review that Polkinghorne/Weinberg debate on counterbalance; Weinberg deflates the 'coincidental' energy levels of carbon.)***

Thanks for that heads up. I wasn't aware of that discussion and found it very interesting.

I agree that coincidences will come and go, or become more severe or less severe. This is to be expected as we study in detail the coincidences and as they come under detailed scrutiny of scientists. What is not happening, however, is a dismissal of these coincidences as a whole. As a whole they are increasing as is evidenced in the past decade when scientific papers are increasingly showing more coincidences.

Incidentally, Steven Weinberg talks about the cosmological constant coincidence in the following paper:

One interesting comment I found in that paper is that he doesn't think that an ensemble universe can explain the coincidences of the elementary particles. It is the first reference I've seen by a reputable scientist that an ensemble universe is not going to cure all the problems seen by examining these coincidences in the physical constants. Here is an excerpt from that paper:

"These anthropic considerations can therefore provide a solution to both the old and the new cosmological constant problems, provided of course that the underlying assumptions are valid."

"There is a problem with this sort of implementation of the anthropic principle, that may prevent its application to anything other than the cosmological constant. (...) If we want to explain the masses and charges of elementary particles anthopically, by supposing that these masses and charges arise from expectation values of a scalar field in a flat potential with random initial values, then the scalar field would have to couple to these elementary particles, and would therefore be created in their collisions and decays. (...) But in our case the non-derivative interactions of the scalars with gravitation are suppressed (...) yielding Yukawa couplings that are very much less than unity. Thus it may be that anthropic considerations are relevant for the cosmological constant, but for nothing else."

Warm regards, Harv

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