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Geraint Lewis on Fine-Tuning

My honourable co-author Geraint Lewis has written a short overview of the fine-tuning of the Universe for intelligent life at the Conversation. Go have a read.

Book update: we’re reviewing a contract with a publisher.

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I’ll be speaking at the Northern Sydney Astronomical Society on Tuesday 15th September. The meeting at at Regis Hall, Regis Campus, St Ignatius College,Riverview St, Lane Cove at 7:30 pm. I’m on at 8pm.

In November, I’ll be speaking in Sutherland, so stay tuned.

Title: The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life

Abstract: Let’s make it slightly different from the one that we are familiar with. We could change the laws of nature, just a little bit. We could change how the universe begins, or make it four-dimensional. In the last 30 years, scientists have discovered something astounding: the vast majority of these changes are disastrous. We end up with a universe containing no galaxies, no stars, no planets, no atoms, no molecules, and most importantly, no intelligent life-forms wondering what went wrong. This fact is called the fine-tuning of the universe for life. After explaining the science of what happens when you change the way our universe works, we will ask: what does all this mean?

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I was sent a series of questions about black holes for a school project, and thought I’d make this video rather than writing a long email. Here are the questions:

  1. How do scientists know there is a supermassive black hole in the centre of every galaxy?
  2. Many sites say scientists don’t know how supermassive black holes are formed. Are there any theories?
  3. Why does a star explode into a supernova when it runs out of energy? If it has run out of energy, where does the energy for the explosion come from?
  4. Why do extremely dense objects have so much gravity?
  5. Does a black hole really ‘blow out’ matter sometimes and why?
  6. When a black hole consumes more matter does its gravity increase?
  7. Can black holes die?
  8. Is it possible for a black hole to have an ‘other side’ and if so what could it be?

Below the video, on the YouTube page, are the links to the webpages that I show in the video.

Let me know if this is useful, and I might make a few more on other topics. Also, as always, more questions are welcome in the comments.

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The Economist has an article discussing the multiverse: Multiversal Truths. I’m mentioned in one of the figures. I’m not sure if Martin Rees would appreciate being called a string theorist, but otherwise the article is worth a read.

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Another talk in Sydney tonight. Everything you could possibly want to know about cosmology!

The Macarthur Astronomy Forum proudly presents Dr Luke Barnes (USYD)

When: Monday July 20th.

Where: UWS Campbelltown, University of Western Sydney – Bldg 30, Main Theatre – School of Medicine: Goldsmith Avenue, Campbelltown.

Time: 7.30pm sharp

Topic: Act One, Scene Two: How the Universe blooms.

How do we know what the Universe is made of? And what shapes its parts into the stars, galaxies and clusters of galaxies that we see around us? Starting from the very early universe, I’ll discuss how the fundamental factors of our universe, its forces, particles, and the dynamical stage that they tread (space time), compete and cooperate to fashion the Universe we see around us.

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Research question: Do telepathic powers exist? Such powers would be highly in demand, so highly in fact that telepaths might become paranoid and keep their abilities secret. Here, I propose a method to identify hidden telepaths. (more…)

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Another video of one of my talks. The goal is to take Bayesian probability theory as it is used in the physical sciences and see if it can make sense of postulating and testing a multiverse theory.

As part of a project called Establishing the Philosophy of Cosmology, I attended a conference in Tenerife, Spain in September last year. The line-up of fellow attendees was, frankly, intimidating. Nevertheless, I had a wonderful time, learned a lot and presented some of my own ideas towards the end of the conference.

The videos are now available on YouTube here; talk slides are here. Just about all the talks are worth a listen – I’ve been enjoying listening to them again. Here are a few highlights.

Joel Primack – Cosmological Structure Formation. A nice introduction to how the universe made its galaxies.

Barry Loewer – Metaphysics of Laws & Time in Cosmology. A very helpful talk on how to think about the laws of nature, and the place of probabilities therein.

George Ellis – Observability and Testability in cosmology and Cosmology: what are the Limits of Science. Made an important distinction between “big-C” Cosmology, whose purview is all of reality, and “little-c” cosmology, which is a branch of science about what physics and physical observations can say about the universe as a whole.

Sean Carroll – What Happens Inside the Wave Function? (I’ll let Sean explain here.)

The talks by Don Page, Bob Wald, Jim Hartle, Joe Silk, David Wallace, David Albert, Chris Smeenk, Brian Pitts, Tom Banks, and Jean-Philippe Uzan were very interesting, as were the discussion panels of Dean Zimmerman, Jennan Ismael & Tim Maudlin, and Janna Levin, Priya Natarajan, Claus Beisbart & Pedro Ferreira.

Here’s mine.  Enjoy.

(My sister is a TV journalist. I’m going to have to get some tips about not fidgeting, what to do with my hands, and not flubbing my words. I say “quantise” instead of “quantify” at one point. *cringe* My good wife has seen me give public lectures, and has commented that I appear to be on speed.)

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