The Anthropic Principle
(Also list under The Fine-Tuning argument)Victor J. Stenger For
The Encyclopedia of Nonbelief
to be published by Prometheus Books.
The Anthropic Coincidences
In 1919, mathematician and physicist Hermann Weyl puzzled why the ratio of theelectromagnetic force to the gravitational force between two electrons is such a huge number, N
Weyl wondered why this should be the case, expressing his intuition (and nothing morethan that) that "pure" numbers, like
, that is, numbers that do not depend any system of units,when occurring in the description of physical properties, should most naturally occur within afew orders of magnitude of unity. Why 10
? Why not 10
? Some principle, Weylthought, must select out 10
.In 1923, astronomer Arthur Eddington agreed: "It is difficult to account for the occurrenceof a pure number (of order greatly different from unity) in the scheme of things; but thisdifficulty would be removed if we could connect it to the number of particles in the world—anumber presumably decided by accident.
He estimated that number, now called the "Eddingtonnumber," to be N =10
. Well, N is not too far from the square of N
.In 1937, physicist Paul Dirac noticed that N
is the same order of magnitude as another purenumber N
that gives the ratio of a typical stellar lifetime to the time for light to traverse theradius of a proton.
That is, he found two seemingly unconnected large numbers to be of the