Weinberg Goes Anthropic

As a commenter here noted last night, and other commenters have discussed in the last posting, Steven Weinberg has just put on the arXiv an article entitled Living in the Multiverse. In it, he correctly points out that theoretical physics was immensely successful during the twentieth century as it adopted a fundamental paradigm of exploiting symmetries and quantum mechanical consistency conditions, using these to develop extremely powerful and predictive theories. Initial hopes for superstring theory were that it would lead to further progress along similar lines, but these have not worked out at all.

Faced with the failure of superstring theory to provide any new predictions based on a useful new symmetry principle or consistency condition, instead of drawing the obvious conclusion that it’s just a wrong idea about how to get beyond the standard model, Weinberg instead proposes to dump the lessons of the success of twentieth century physics:

Now we may be at a new turning point, a radical change in what we accept as a legitimate foundation for a physical theory. The current excitement is of course a consequence of the discovery of a vast number of solutions of string theory, beginning in 2000 with the work of Bousso and Polchinski.

What Weinberg sees as “excitement” is what some others have characterized as “depression and desperation”. His “radical change in what we accept as a legitimate foundation for a physical theory” seems to be to give up on the idea of a fundamental theory that predicts things and instead adopt the “anthropic reasoning” paradigm of how to do physics. Weinberg goes through various examples of his own recent work of this kind, announcing that the probability of seeing a vacuum energy of the observed value is 15.6% (this seems to me to violate my high school physics teacher’s dictum about not quoting results to insignificant figures, but I’m not sure how you’d put error bars on that kind of number anyway). He also quotes approvingly recent anthropic work of Arkani-Hamed, Dimopoulos and Kachru, as well as that of his colleague Jacques Distler. All he has to say about the underlying string theory motivation for all this is that “it wouldn’t hurt in this work if we knew what string theory is.”

In his final comments he acknowledges that this new vision of fundamental physics is not as solidly based as the theory of evolution. Describing the strength of his belief in it, he says “I have just enough confidence about the multiverse to bet the lives of both Andrei Linde and Martin Rees’s dog.” One can’t be sure exactly what that means without knowing how he personally feels about Andrei Linde, or cruelty to innocent dogs.

Weinberg’s article is based on a talk given at a symposium in September at Cambridge on the topic “Expectations of a Final Theory”. I haven’t been able to find out anything else about this symposium, and would be interested to hear any other information about it that anyone else has. The article will be published in a Cambridge University Press volume Universe or Multiverse?, edited by Bernard Carr (the president of the Society for Psychical Research), about which I’ve posted earlier here.

I’m curious whether this Cambridge symposium was one of the infinite number of such things funded by the Templeton Foundation. Next week the Vatican will be sponsoring a Templeton-funded conference held in the Vatican City on the topic of Infinity in Science, Philosophy and Theology. It will feature a talk by Juan Maldacena on “Infinity as Simplification”, and is part of a larger Vatican/Templeton project called Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest. This project is designed to promote the vision of scientific research outlined by Pope John Paul II in two encyclical letters, including the rule that scientific research must be “grounded in the ‘fear of God’ whose transcendent sovereignty and provident love in the governance of the world reason must recognize.”

Update: Lubos Motl has some comments on the Weinberg article. This is one topic on which we seem to be in agreement.

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87 Responses to Weinberg Goes Anthropic

  1. island says:

    There has never been logical proof the universe is infinite.

    Relativity extends to a finite closed universe.

    So who listens Einstein, his theory, or anybody else, further than they really want to…?

    stars or beetles, because he made so many of them.

    Not very anthropic!

    Stars and beetles are entropy-efficient… only, they’re not as efficeint as humans… “pound-for-pound”.

    How practical.

  2. Mr Jones says:

    Kuhn tried to understand aspects of (as Popper also did) how science works in practice, instead of prescribing how it ought to be done (as was common among philosophers of science up to that time roughly). What’s so offensive about that? He got some of it right but not all, but then who gets everything right anyway?

  3. Kris Krogh says:

    MathPhys,

    It’s come to light in Einstein’s collected papers he did have a pressing experimental motivation. First there is a previously unknown manuscript, coauthored with Besso, on his next-to-last gravity theory. There he calculates Mercury’s precession and gets the wrong value. Then there are two letters on the final theory, to Lorentz and Planck, explaining he abandoned the previous one because it didn’t fit Mercury’s orbit. Why hasn’t this been noted by the general relativity community?

    The “elegance” of general relativity, reminds me of string theory hype. If it were really elegant, would it be necessary to say so? Shouldn’t such a theory include quantum mechanics? Some say it’s elegant because it’s based entirely on general principles. Weinberg (bless his heart) says that isn’t true, because Einstein arbitrarily assumed second-order partial differential equations.

    Maybe general relativity stands the test of time because the only tests counted are the ones passed. Does it pass the test of the velocity curves of the stars in galaxies? Or the motions of the Pioneer space probes? A failure only means we’ve discovered “new physics,” like strange dark matter and energy.

    I agree Einstein’s theory is a cultural phenomenon — but so are myths.

  4. Yraste says:

    W- “…we will have to accept that much of what we had hoped to calculate are environmental parameters, like the distance of the earth from the sun, whose values we will never be able to deduce from first principles.”

    -Did he forget Titus-Bode law which can be explained from first principles.

    When the math gets too hard, then you are left with the philosophical option only.

  5. island says:

    I guess I crossed that line but I thought it was just a natural extension of einstein’s theory, rather than one that I’d dreamt-up.

    I’m sorry.

  6. D R Lunsford says:

    KK,

    A theory need only include its “referents” in the observable world. If that theory is inherently macroscopic, then quantum mechanics is both 1) unnecessary and 2) impossile – you can’t arrange the experiment that nails down |psi>. That GR has no direct quantum statements is neither unexpected, nor troublesome.

    GR is compelling because it deals with matter even when Tmn = 0. This is exactly analogous to light, even before the inverse square law.

    -drl

  7. Not a Nobel Laureate says:

    What Weinberg neglected to mention is that that success of theoretical physics in the 20th century was due in no small part to rapid advanced in technology enabling physicists to generate a flood of experimental data

    Theories were rapidly tested and those found wanting rejected.

  8. Nigel says:

    The “flood of experimental data” still exists and remains to be analysed, the mass ratio of muon to electron and other particles, and the coupling constants of electroweak to strong nuclear and gravitation.

    Theories were not “rapidly tested and those found wanting rejected”.

    Take the case of Gell-Mann’s quarks versus Zweig’s aces. Zweig wrote a more detailed paper and was suppressed by a big American journal while he was in Europe at CERN, while Gell-Mann in America from experience was shrewd enough to submit his briefer and less substantiated paper to a small European journal which printed it. (Let’s not get involved in the issue of Zweig never getting a Nobel prize, as Gell-Mann officially got it for symmetry work.)

    Arthur C. Clarke once said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This is the fate of any revolutionary idea, which by definition (being revolutionary) is in conflict with preconceived ideas like string theory. It is very easy to weed out reality, to flush the baby away with the bath water. It is a different matter to take a heretical idea seriously. Everyone can see it is absurd and obviously wrong. I think this is why the Soviet’s having lost an enormous amount in WWII still managed to beat America into space with Sputnik. The mainstream is always too prejudiced in favour of yesterday’s methods to be really serious about science.

  9. Juan R. says:

    Kris Krogh,

    Yes, Weinberg worked with a GR spin-two field. i wanted say that GR is nonrenormalizable as a field theory.

    Effectively, there is not proof that other approaches to gravity cannot be renormalizable.

    So far as i know Yilmaz theory has been proven to be incompatible with experimental data, including some Newtonian-like tests.

    Feynman called renormalization a “dippy process.� And he said he didn’t know whether renormalizability is a valid test of a theory’s correctness or not.

    Well, i completely agree with Feynman and also with Dirac and Landau who expressed similar claims before. Moreover, the trick on renormalization is on infinite less infinite equal to any thing that i want, because mathematically the operation is not defined. In some sense renormalization has worked but ONLY in scattering experiments, where renormalizable terms do not modify the dynamics. It appears that renormalization does not work in recent test of QED in bound states in He atom.

    It is often claimed by particle physicists that renormalization is rigorous, which is false since it has been only proven for scatering states with free fields doing lot of asumptions in the ‘proof’.

    Precisely, i am working in a promising line of research where renormalization is not needed and the theory is defined also for bound states. My work is a further generalization of Fokker/Dirac/Wheeler/Feynman theory. A first version of a non-perturbative quantum gravity is already available at our center but we are doing consistency tests and consulting with external colleagues. Until 2006, we will not publish first results which would be -if our work is correct- a serious candidate to string or LQG approaches.

    Juan R.

    Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)

  10. Juan R. says:

    MathPhys Said,

    Einstein’s theory is a cultural phenomenon: A major, far reaching theory and a pillar of modern physics that was created single handedly by one man (unlike quantum mechanics), in the absence of any pressing experimental motivation (unlike both quantum mechanics and special relativity). It is elegant and deep, and has stood the test of time for almost 90 years now, during which time it remained a focal point of research.

    This is part of the mith around einstien he developed his theories alone. This is not true. I proved in sci.physics.research General relativity is mainly the work of four or five guys. Einstien was just one of them.

    The only contribution of Einstein to GR was his proposal of substituting the scalar potential by a 10-component metric.

    The geodesic equation of motion was proposed in an early paper of 1909 by Harry Bateman and the field equations of GR were obtained by Hilbert at least nine days before Einstein. See

    http://canonicalscience.blogspot.com/2005/08/what-is-history-of-relativity-theory.html

    for some aditional comments and historical analysis of recent data including Einstein-Hilbert correspondence. I am updating the page with a more extensive and rigorous version.

    Juan R.

    Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)

  11. Juan R. says:

    Nigel,

    Even submiting his work on quarks, Gell-Mann’s obtained a rejection form one of referees and practically was rejected for publication but finally he was able to convince editor for publication.

    It is really interesting as string theorists were rejected by stablished colleagues four decades ago whereas now string theorists are the “stablishment” and reject any theory -even promising- if do not fit string theory preconceived ideas.

    The difference is that in the past the criterion was ‘mainly’ fit of experimental data now it is a supposed mathematical elegance

    Juan R.

    Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)

  12. Kris Krogh says:

    DRL,

    “GR is compelling because it deals with matter even when Tmn = 0.”

    Does Tmn = 0 refer to the instant of the Big Bang? Has it been proven there was such an instant, before which nothing existed?

  13. MathPhys says:

    Juan R,

    Thank you for the correction. I actually tend to believe your version of history rather than the popular one. I’m not surprised at all to learn that there were priority disputes for both special and general relativity. Einstein was never an easy man, particularly in his youth, and from what I know of his character, I’m not so very surprised by what you say.

  14. D R Lunsford says:

    KK, not here.

    -drl

  15. Tung says:

    Juan R,

    It is an interesting account of “actual” history that you are promoting. True, Einstein’s contribution is not really understood by the public, but for a more accurate and more objective account of what he did, I think I would recommend the works by real historians of physics like John Stachel, Arthur Fine, John Earman, Don Howard etc. Some of them are the first to read Einstein’s then unpublished manuscripts and letters, and seems to me to be more believable.

  16. Tony Smith says:

    Actually, IIRC, neither Gell-Mann nor Zweig were the first to invent/discover quarks.

    Around 1960, Liu Yao-Yang invented the Ceng Zi (Quark) model of particle physics. He was working at the University of Science and Technology of China, which was then located at Beijing, when he invented the Ceng Zi model. He wrote a paper and submitted it to a Chinese journal. It was turned down because the editors thought the paper was not correct. After the quark model had been independently re-invented a few years later, with most of the credit going to Murray Gell-Mann, the editors apologized for rejecting the paper. The latest information I have is that Liu Yao-Yang was working at the University of Science and Technology of China, which is now at Anhui, in the fields of atomic and molecular physics, quantum field theory, and quantization of gravity.

    Tony Smith
    http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/

  17. Eric Dennis says:

    Tony,

    That’s interesting. Do you have a reference for your account of Liu Yao-Yang?

  18. Pingback: L’ArrĂŞt de mort » Blog Archive » Changement de paradigme

  19. Chris W. says:

    Over on Cosmic Variance, Sean Carroll reminds us to consider what extraterrestrial intelligences might have to say about the “anthropic” principle.

    Seriously, does anyone—other than those motivated by certain religious doctrines—seriously consider the anthropic principle to be specifically, much less exclusively, about the relevance of life on Earth to understanding the structure and evolution of the universe?

  20. Kris Krogh says:

    Hi Tung,

    If you can find a mistake in someone’s work — that’s good. But only to question their credentials? That’s a page from the book of some string theorists.

  21. Tony Smith says:

    Eric Dennis asks “… Do you have a reference for your account of Liu Yao-Yang? …”.
    My information is from personal communications with Chinese friends.
    If you want authoritative confirmation of those facts, I suggest that someone with Stony Brook connections contact Frank Yang (who moved from Stony Brook to China in the recent past), as he has close connections with Anhui and is probably quite familiar with more details than I know.

    Tony Smith
    http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/

  22. Quantoken says:

    Chris W. said:
    “Over on Cosmic Variance, Sean Carroll reminds us to consider what extraterrestrial intelligences might have to say about the “anthropicâ€? principle.”

    He might as well ask what god would say on the topic, or what the hypothetical green men on mars would say.

    I mean the whole thing is complete fictitious and hypothetical. How could you use something purely imaginary and hypothetical, instead of something based on solid evidence, to back up a scientific argument? We have not made contact with any alien and no one is able to ask an alien how it will answer the question regarding anthropic principle. So no one really knows how an alien will answer. Anything you say is then just your own personal opinion, not opinion by aliens.

    Quantoken

  23. Adrian Heathcote says:

    Quantoken says: “So no one really knows how an alien will answer. Anything you say is then just your own personal opinion, not opinion by aliens.”

    I would have thought that the only thing they might insist on is a name change! (‘Anthopos’—how terracentric!)

    But seriously, surely the AP is just a way of eliminating theories that are so wide of the mark that they predict a universe in which life is impossible. Life exists, ergo such theories are false. String theorists seem to have taken it over as a way of putting back in by hand some of the predictive power that the theory itself has left out.You might just as well talk about a Planetary Principle: any theory which is so wide of the mark that it says that there are no planets can be ruled out from the beginning. *Anything* we know about our universe can be used as a filter on String theory models, or *any* theory.

    BTW Tony: really interesting information on Liu Yao-Yang. Someone should write an article to give him his due.

    A.H.

  24. Chris Oakley says:

    surely the AP is just a way of eliminating theories that are so wide of the mark that they predict a universe in which life is impossible. Life exists, ergo such theories are false.

    I think that this is a good way of putting it. The AP is not worthless, but neither is it especially valuable. To expect a full dynamical theory just from this principle is crazy.

  25. Quantoken says:

    AH:
    Too many people meantioned Liu Yao-Yang and his Ceng Zi model that a few words are worth saying. The so called Ceng Zi model was but vapourware. It was nothing scientific. The idea was a politically motivated one, inspired by the philosophy thought of then Chairman Mao, who held the belief that matter can always be divided no matter how small they become. It’s the same intuitive belief since ancient times. For example, imagine you cut a stick in half, the remaining half is shorter, but you can cut it in half again, and you can repeat it infinite times and there is always a little bit left.

    The Ceng Zi model believes, therefore, it must be divisible within the most fundamental particle known by then, proton and neutron. There were already experimental evidences that there are intrinsic states of protons and neutrons, implying that they have structures. But beyong suggesting that baryons are divisible into Ceng Zi’s, the model says nothing specific about how the Ceng Zi should look like, how they interact. How many kinds there are, etc. Therefore it’s nothing beyond just some philosophy ideas.

    The problem with Sean Carroll, and other people in the same camp. Is that their “research” have been long detached from reality, that they probably believe that solid experimental data is not necessary and can be substituted by pure imagination in one’s mind, and that such imagination can be used to establish or support a scientific argument.

    I am not trying to argue for or against the AP. But hypothetical questions have no weight in making any argument. Sean already counted it as a fact that aliens exist and that in principle we could ask an alien. In reality, we simply do NOT know it as a fact whether aliens even exist or not. There is no evidence.

    Quantoken

  26. Who says:

    Anslopic

  27. Quantoken says:

    Chris O. said:
    “surely the AP is just a way of eliminating theories that are so wide of the mark that they predict a universe in which life is impossible. Life exists, ergo such theories are false.

    I think that this is a good way of putting it. The AP is not worthless, but neither is it especially valuable. To expect a full dynamical theory just from this principle is crazy.”

    It must be point out that the AP is completely useless. That is, zero usefulness. AP does NOT eliminate any theory. Experimental evidences do. If you believe that AP helps to eliminate some theories, then you belong to the same camp of people who believe solid experimental evidences can be substituted by pure mind hypothesis. The fact of matter is experimental data is ultimately the only thing that can eliminate or establish a theory. Data is the only judge in the court of science. Principles, no matter how sounding, can not be used to make a judgement regarding a theory. You may have a theory which is at odd with the AP principle but fits the data, but the fact that your theory conflicts the AP only means that AP is probably wrong, not that your theory is wrong.

    As far as experimental data is concerned, the AP is completely useless because it has no predictive power whatsoever. Anything we already know, by definition becomes part of the AP and be rationalized by the AP. But anything we do NOT already know, the AP leaves it wide open and anything could be possible. So the AP is unable to say a single thing about the unknwns that could be later checked against the facts. AP is as useless a princple as thereligious idea of rationalize everything by simply claiming “because God made it so.”

    Quantoken

  28. island says:

    The anthropic principle, when extended to become a biocentric principle is valid science that makes predictions about what aliens might say. Failure to look for evidence why the anthropic principle is valid, does not constitute a lack of evidence.

    This is what I wrote in his thread concerning how it applies to his question about what aliens would say about the principle:

    Space aliens would tell you that we humans are an arrogant bunch, and modern science is wrongly prejudiced against it for that reason, because the principle is actually biocentric in nature, extending to every banded spiral galaxy that is on the same evolutionary “plane� as us, in terms of its implications that fall from the observation that we inhabit a preferred “place and time� in the history of our universe. We’re far from alone in that… is anybody awake?

    Methinks that modern science is gonna be sorry that they didn’t try to answer the begged question of what good physical reason exists for why the implied “specailness� might be for-real, rather than to automatically assume that we are so detatched and insignifcant to the thermodynamic process that the principle is no more than a circular reasoned tautology, that’s easily explained-away if we simply make a few leaps of speculative theoretical faith that aren’t even close to being justified in origins science, which is dominated by empiricism.

    Insignificance in not a valid argument either, when the principle is biocentric, due to the cumulative high-energy physics contributions that intelligent life is capable of making to the process, which is unmatched in terms of energy-efficiency, pound-for-pound, so to speak. Fred Hoyle proved that it only requires a few particles anually from each galaxy to account for expansion. What a coincidence NOT!

    So this indicates that particle creation from negative vacuum energy holds the universe flat… What an anthropic coincidence! No, wait… my mistake, it’s actually an anthropic prediction that theories which don’t derive this are cluelessly screwed up about how the physics actually works!

    In other words, space aliens will tell you that “Free-thinkers� are every bit as arrogant as creationists for thinking that space aliens could be much more or less advanced technologically than us… although they might actually trust us to figure out why that might be for ourselves, assuming that we gave them a clear indication that we were finally actually getting a clue as to how the principle actually works… and applies.

  29. Nigel says:

    “Data is the only judge in the court of science. Principles, no matter how sounding, can not be used to make a judgement regarding a theory.” – Quantoken

    What about the principles of Copenhagen quantum mechanics, like Bohr’s beloved Correspondence and Complementarity? Or Einstein’s principles? The maths of Bohr and Einstein is very elegant and of course consistent numerically with reality. What people argue is that there are other ways of getting the same results without using the same principles, at least regarding SR and Copenhagen principles.

    It seems that Bohr and Einstein didn’t notice that there were other ways of getting the same maths without using the same philosophy. FitzGerald, Lorentz and Larmor, had the testable formulae of SR. Einstein still didn’t notice this when he gave his “Ether and Relativity” lecture at Leyden in 1920. His biographer Pais wrote that he (Pais) first gave Einstein the Poincare’s relativity papers of 1904 in the early 1950s. Einstein asked Born to acknowledge Poincare’s work. Pais says he (Pais) was angry with Born for praising Poincare too highly, since Poincare used 3 postulates and Einstein used only 2. The whole story makes me nauseous. The love of monk Ockham’s razor is just absurd. You don’t find biologists or chemists banning biological or chemical mechanisms as superfluous or unnecessary difficulties. The lack of mechanism for forces allows string theorists to claim they are copying the guessed principle philosophy of Bohr and Einstein.

  30. Tony Smith says:

    Quantoken said “… The so called Ceng Zi model was but vapourware. It was nothing scientific. The idea was a politically motivated one, inspired by the philosophy thought of then Chairman Mao …”.

    Since I have not personally read the paper that Liu Yao-Yang wrote around 1960, I cannot deal directly with Quantoken’s assertion that the Ceng Zi model was “vapourware” and “nothing scientific”. Perhaps some Chinese sources might respond to that part of Quantoken’s criticism.

    However, I can say that it should be quite irrelevant whether or not the Ceng Zi model was “politically motivated” or “inspired by the philosophy thought of then Chairman Mao”. Further, given the political climate of China around 1960, it should not be surprising that ANY paper about ANYTHING might well be phrased in terms that are connected with “the philosophy thought of then Chairman Mao”.

    Not only is that part of Quantoken’s criticism invalid, it is unfortunately typical of the attitudes of some Western European / American people about physics motivated by philosophical schools to which they do not ascribe.
    For instance, it is interesting that the Nobel prize have yet to recognize Kobayashi and Maskawa even though it is experimentally clear that there are three generations of fermions. Perhaps that might be related to the facts that their work was closely related to that of the Nagoya group (they both got their Ph.D.’s at Nagoya) and that the fundamental philosophy of the Nagoya group was Dialectical Materialism. As Kent Staley says in his book “The Evidence for the Top Quark” (Cambridge 2004): “… some japanese physicists felt strongly that Western physicists, especially in the United States, systematically ignored their work. …”. Staley’s book contains some details about the philosophical underpinnings of the physics ideas of the Nagoya group around the 1960s. I do not know much about the flow of ideas between China and Japan during that time period, but it might be an interesting bit of history.

    Tony Smith
    http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/

  31. Adrian Heathcote says:

    Quantoken

    Just some thoughts to try to clarify the idea of the AP.

    The normal situation in science is to have T –>P, a theory making a prediction. Verifying the prediction increases the confidence that the theory may be true. The AP takes a range of theories/models and filters out those that are inconsistent with some known obvious fact (life exists). The AP leaves those theories/models that are consistent with the facts. It’s perfectly true that a theory being consistent with some fact is not the same as a theory predicting that fact—the relation is much weaker. But filtering is not nothing either: Evolution is essentially a filtering process.

    One could say that prediction is to forensic investigation as the AP is to a police line-up. (Or worse: to a line-up in which the person knows only what the suspect *didn’t* look like!)

    cheers

  32. island says:

    The constantly growing number of anthropic coincidences clearly indicates that the principle predicts that life only occurs fixed *near*-exactly between diametrically opposing runaway tendencies, like the near-flatness of the universe, or the balance between the relevant cumulative runaway tendencies that the earth has toward Milankovitch predicted glaciation… that gets offset by the innate tendency that humans have for warming the climate… etc, etc, etceteras… anthropic *Ecobalances*make a statement about uniform energy dissemination in a flat yet expanding universe.

    Evobiologists could also make valid predictions from the AP if they weren’t so knee-jerk conditioned and pre-prejudiced against any and all use of the principle because its religious abuse.

    …cept for maybe the fringe like the templeton bunch.

    http://www.templeton.org/biochem-finetuning/

  33. Quantoken says:

    Adrian H. said:
    “The AP takes a range of theories/models and filters out those that are inconsistent with some known obvious fact (life exists). The AP leaves those theories/models that are consistent with the facts.”

    Wake up, checking theories against observational facts is all science research is doing. That’s the day time job of all scientists. You do NOT need a middleman called AP to do such reality checks. People have been doing it for thousands of years without AP.

    What other great usefulness of AP can you propose, other than your suggestion that without AP we will not be able to exam theory against known facts, or that we probably will not know for a fact that life exists if it were not for the AP? How absord!

    On the same token of AP, we may also propose Hydrogen Principle or Oxygen Principle, Or Snake Oil principle. We know these things, hydrogen, oxygen, or snake oil, exists, so any correct theory must leads to the existence of these items. If a theory leads to the conclusion that snake oil does not exist, we know its wrong because snake oil exist, especially in the field of fundamental physics research. I would so propose that we rename Anthropic Principle as “Snake Oil Principle”, which may be more appropriate.

    Quantoken

  34. island says:

    I didn’t know that intelligent life was necessary to the existence of hydrogen or oxygen.

    Snake oil however…

  35. Adrian Heathcote says:

    Hey Quantoken

    woah, woah, woah!

    I am not arguing for the AP by any stretch of the imagination. Essentially I am arguing on *your* side—but also trying to show what the AP is doing (the very little that it is doing!) In fact you are repeating my argument and pretending that it refutes what I said.

    Perhaps I can suggest the principle of counting to ten before one hits the submit comment button.

    cheers

  36. Juan R. says:

    Some authors have said that Weinberg was already anthropic decades ago. I think that is another exageration.

    I do not really know those previous Weinberg works on cosmological constant and similar, if i am wrong please correct me.

    I think that in the past, Weinberg used some kind of statistical methods for computing some average value for cosmological constant or similar. I think that his motivation would be obtain some, even approximated, value. Probably Weinberg’s hope was to obtain the correct value from some future theory.

    It appears that now is usually thought that those ‘future theory’ does not exist and all we can do is ‘obtain’ (so say) those anthropic values. I think that now Weinberg is anthropic therein Woit’s title for this thread Weinberg Goes Anthropic

    MathPhys, thanks! Works, manuscripts, and those are always subjected to certain personal interpretation (history is not one of exact sciences) but correspondence with Besso, Seelig, Hilbert, etc. proves that Einstein copied work of others and after do not cite them in his papers. For instance, in his correspondence to Hilbert said not the true and in his posterior 1915 (day 25) paper on GR, newer cited to Hilbert.

    Also the history of string theory is completely distorted and that is the basis of popularity of people like Brian Greene, or Witten.

    Tung, thanks by the advice. In the new extended version more authors are cited. Stachel coincides with me on that “Einstein’s proposal of the quanta of light was not revolutionary” and that contributions to SR were pionnerized by PoincarĂ©.

    Regarding GR, in his broadly critized article on Science Stachel accused Hilbert of plagiarism. On a new article -more serious- now he argues that Hilbert had already obtained the correct GR Lagrangian…

    Juan R.

    Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)

  37. Adrian Heathcote says:

    Juan R.

    I read your article on Einstein and found it very interesting. If the dates that you infer for who knew what when stand up then you’ve made a pretty strong case. The thing that I hadn’t heard anything about was the relation with Hilbert and his work. Pretty damning!

    It would be good to see a more polished version of this come out somewhere.

    cheers