Saturday, February 6, 2010

Long odds

I'm still reading "From Eternity to Here: the Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time," and pondering big numbers - like the possible states of the universe in terms of entropy. When the Big Bang occurred, entropy had to be super low, or we'd all probably be a mindless part of a cooling soup of atomic particles by now.

So what are the odds that such a low-entropy beginning would happen? One measure answers: damn few among 10 (to the superscript 10) (to the supersuperscript 120). That is a number that makes a googol amount to a rather small hill of beans. Your odds of dying of a lightning strike while simultaneously being eaten by a lion and great white shark are far, far, better.

Some would say that such odds prove whatever religion they happen to believe in. But, hey, the odds of any of them being right - based on the superstitions of bronze-age tribes - is a lot less than that lion-shark-lightning demise. It turns out that our universe is a whole lot more unlikely than we can, at least today, even hope to imagine. It had, somehow, to have been physically chosen. But what does that mean? Our scientific thoughts on the matter may be tantalizingly close ... or not close at all.

But, hi! Here we are!

For a while, anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Well according to many-worlds interperation all those other universes (the one with slightly higher entroy at the begining and ones where I'm eaten by a shark and a lion at the same time but the lighting "just" misses me) exist too. We just happen to be in this one. Now your probably thinking this reeks of the anthropic principle (AKA the easy way out) and I don't blame you. If this really bugs you just move one universe to the left were I didn't even make this reply. ;)