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Archive for August, 2017

I’ve recently had my first philosophy paper published! It appears in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science, and is available online for free here (I think – tell me in the comments if it doesn’t work). [Edit: It doesn’t. Here’s the preprint.] Here’s the abstract:

Fine-tuning in physics and cosmology is often used as evidence that a theory is incomplete. For example, the parameters of the standard model of particle physics are “unnaturally” small (in various technical senses), which has driven much of the search for physics beyond the standard model. Of particular interest is the fine-tuning of the universe for life, which suggests that our universe’s ability to create physical life forms is improbable and in need of explanation, perhaps by a multiverse. This claim has been challenged on the grounds that the relevant probability measure cannot be justified because it cannot be normalized, and so small probabilities cannot be inferred. We show how fine-tuning can be formulated within the context of Bayesian theory testing (or model selection) in the physical sciences. The normalizability problem is seen to be a general problem for testing any theory with free parameters, and not a unique problem for fine-tuning. Physical theories in fact avoid such problems in one of two ways. Dimensional parameters are bounded by the Planck scale, avoiding troublesome infinities, and we are not compelled to assume that dimensionless parameters are distributed uniformly, which avoids non-normalizability.

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The Great UK Book Tour!

Geraint Lewis and I are off to the United Kingdom in October 2017 for a series of blockbuster events! Come and see our double act!

We’re still putting a few details together, so stay tuned – I’ll update this post as appropriate.

Wednesday 11th Oct: Cambridge,England

Title: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos
Time:
 7pm
Address: High Cross
Madingley Road
Cambridge, CB3 0EL
Tickets are free and are available here.

Thursday 12th Oct: York, England

Title: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos
Time: 7pm
Address: St Peter’s School York,
Clifton A19
YO30 6AB
More details here.
Tickets are free and are available here.

Friday 13th Oct: Armagh, Northern Ireland

Title: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos
Time: 7pm
Address: Armagh Planetarium,
College Hill, Armagh
BT61 9DB
Northern Ireland

Monday 16th Oct: Leeds, England

Title: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos
Time: 7pm
Address: Michael Sadler Building, Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre,
University of Leeds,
Leeds, LS2 9JT
More details here.

Tuesday 17th Oct: The Royal Institution, London, England

Title: A Fortunate Universe
Time: 7 – 8:30pm
Address: The Royal Institution of Great Britain
21 Albemarle Street
London, W1S 4BS
Tickets essential! Book here.

Wednesday 18th Oct: Lancaster, England

Title: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos
Time: 6:30pm
Address: Cavendish Lecture Theatre,
Lancaster University, Bailrigg,
Lancaster, LA1 4YW
More details here.

Thursday 19th Oct: Durham, England

Title: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos
Time: 7pm
Address: James Duff Lecture Theatre (PH8),
Physics Building,
Durham University
More details here.

Friday 20th Oct: Oxford, England

Title: A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos
Time: 8pm
Address: Oxford University Space and Astronomy Society
Martin Woods Lecture Theatre
20 Parks Rd,
Oxford OX1 3PU

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