Quentin Meillassoux, Lee Smolin and Rick Rosner (and the Problem of the Finetunedness of the Cosmos)

Quentin Meillassoux is an interesting and original contemporary philosopher from France; since new philosophy is probably the slowest thing to diffuse and penetrate the minds of the more educated population, not very much is known about him at present in the German-speaking world (although, taking the usual standards into consideration, he may actually already be quite popular). I got me an anthology of him, Trassierungen, and read an article by him in Realismus Jetzt – Spekulative Philosophie und Metaphysik für das 21. Jahrhundert (with many of the other contributions in this volume referring to Meillassoux), both published by Merve. Meillassoux argues that since all attempts to ground our fragile existence in a (metaphysical) necessity (e.g. God) have failed time and again, our existence is necessarily a contingency, with the only thing being absolute being a Hyper-Chaos as a grundloser Grund from which that what is factual derives. From the Hyper-Chaos all things and the (natural) laws that govern things emerge without specific reason, and could also be changed without specific reason. This sheds a new light on an number of philosophical problems, i.e. Hume´s problem of induction/causality, the question whether the „Copernican revolution“ in philosophy by Kant wasn´t actually a mistake, the problem of the event as well as problems of religion, the existence of God, the afterlife, and ethics. The existence of God, for instance, is rather ruled out by Meillassoux, since, upon reflection, God is obviously a perverse God (i.e. via the problem of theodicy) – which, however, does not rule out that God, heaven, the afterlife may come into being in the future, due to Hyper-Chaos (and there is still, if you want, a reason to be a believer (respectively, it is not much different from what many religions propose, e.g. via the Last Judgement, resurrection of the dead, the hidden Iman, etc.)). Likewise, as he does not rule out that natural laws may change, there is an indication that natural laws have changed or evolved in the past. One of the biggest mystery in physics is indeed the finetunedness of the universe, the fact that natural laws, constants, forces, dimensions are so incredibly finetuned that such a finetunedness, enabling life, a stable cosmos and stable matter is actually very, very unlikely – giving an indication that our universe may have well been made by some sort of „intelligent design“.

(Reading Meillassoux is somehow pacifying and comes in as some fresh air, I like to follow along the trajectory of his thinking, and he also says other things I like, for instance about the necessity to do away with ideology in order to progressively achieve clarity in order to gain wider competence (which I, on a more extreme level call the White Lodge). He also talks about the coming into being of the divine human being due to the partly divine nature of man (which I, on a more extreme level, call the overman). And he speaks about the virtual in existence which opens the possibility of introducing something really new and qualitatively different (which relates to genius, respectively the Chaosmos).

Lee Smolin is an eminent physicist, with his most well-known contribution to physics is being a pioneer in the development of „loop quantum gravity“, an approach to quantum gravity rivalling string theory (according to which the universe can be described as a network of abstract quantum states, indicating that spacetime itself is not a continuum but discreet and made of „atoms“ of Planck length and Planck time). There´s also a popular science book by him, Time Reborn. From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe which is also about the problem of the finetunedness of the cosmos and in which he argues that time is an actual entity: From Galilei to Newton to Einstein an understanding of physics has solidified that physical processes can be described by mathematical equations in which time does not play a specific role, indicating that time is not „truly“ out there in this world – of course, we experience time via the presence of clocks i.e. the earth revolving around itself, the moon revolving around the earth, the earth revolving around the sun or our bodies that are born and die away serving as clocks – which nevertheless does not mean that time is also „there“ when clocks are completely absent (I also recently read a book about Einstein and Gödel by philosopher Palle Yourgrau which mentions that Gödel found a proof that time travel (into the past) is possible – by looking at a somehow eccentric universe (which can, nevertheless be translated into our universe) time travel into the past is possible by moving across space with high velocity: (since that might violate causality, as we could manipulate the past then) indicating that time itself does not exist. Yourgrau mourns that Gödel´s proof has hitherto been largely ignored by both physicists and philosophers (and, indeed, it is not mentioned in Lee Smolin´s book)). Smolin argues that time is a true category (challenging our common understanding the other way round for instance as he suggests that space is not a true entity, but something emergent from a network of relations), and that natural laws may have evolved in time, hence have become ever more finetuned: unfortunately he does not give much indication how such a „meta law“ that governs the evolution of natural laws can come into being, but he says that in the 21st century cosmology will revolve to a good deal about that question. Concerning the mysteries cosmology proposes I at any rate happen to see an article about a new approach every once in a week on Facebook, and in that fashion I just happen to ran into this and that (where another pioneer of loop quantum gravity, Carlo Rovelli, proposes the opposite to Smolin, i.e. that time does not „objectively“ exist). (Concerning loop quantum gravity I read an article in Sterne und Weltraum some years ago about how experiments – measurements of signals of very distant gamma ray bursts which would be refracted if spacetime consisted of „atoms“ – nevertheless failed to indicate that spacetime is granular – despite also failing to explicitely rule out that possibility.)

Rick Rosner is an American known for having achieved some of the most astounding results in the history of high range IQ tests. With an IQ that is probably 192 he is often considered to be the „second smartest man in the world“ (after Evangelos Katsioulis who probably has an IQ of 198). In the recent issues of Noesis – The Journal of the Mega Society (an IQ society for which you need an IQ above 175 to get into, where only one person out of a million can be expected to be this intelligent) there is an ongoing extensive interview with him (which unfortunately has not been printed in its entirety yet). In his eccentricity Rick Rosner occasionally has been calling himself „physics genius – or deluded about everything“, and as such he presents his theories on cosmology in the interview. According to his „informational cosmology“ the universe is information sharing and processing – to an extent that it is probably a conscious entity (though with a consciousness that is likely vastly different from our own). He says that the Big Bang did not actually happen but that the universe recycles itself in „ultra deep time“ around an „active center“ of active galaxies as opposed to the „outskirts“ of the universe where died out galaxies and matter reside, and where the current 14 or so billion years since the „Big Bang“ are more or less only a step in information processing of a universe gradually optimising itself. Protons that enter the active center and „light up“ new galaxies may have been formed from neutrons in collapsed matter or come from an „unstructured primordial matter“ from T=0 (i.e. the center of the „active center“ of the universe, mistaken as the Big Bang), therein forming „new information“, while collapsed galaxies gradually become re-ignited via particle exchange. The universe, Rosner says, has three dimensions because information is generally limited to holding open three dimensions; space seems organised so as to minimize the total distance traversed by particle interactions; time seems oranised to maximize the number of interactions per unit of time. Cosmic Background Radiation is „noise/uncertainty“, and that its temperature is 3 degree Kelvin means that for the universe it is much easier to organise itself than if it would be a higher temperatures. Dark matter is, in essence, collapsed matter, and collapsed matter is what stores information, is the „memory“ of the universe. Irrespective of that, up to now, Rosner did not say much about how the finetunedness of the universe came into being (which is obviously there irrespective of the universe existing in „ultra deep time“), however he says that there are (kind of) economical reasons for it, respectively reasons of consistency. I am, at any rate curious about the remaining parts of the interview to be published in the future.

William James Sidis (1898 – 1944) likely was even more intelligent than Rick Rosner. He was a star as the greatest child prodigy America has ever known but descended into oblivion later in life, which unfortunately also accounts for probably a lot of his work, and making it difficult to distinguish between myth and reality concernig many aspects of his biography. There are, nevertheless, indications that his cognitive abilities were so high above even the most intelligent people on earth that his IQ was suspected to have been between 250 and 300, and already at age 11 (when he gave lectures about mathematics to them) he had been hardly comprehensible even for the finest minds of his time (which likely explains his descent into privacy and opting out of academia, since there was practically no one able to „translate“ his thoughts to a more general audience and serve as a bridge). At the beginning of his twenties he published a book about cosmology, The Animate and the Inanimate, which failed to gain recognition. In this book, he argues that the universe is infinite and eternal and consistent of „positive“ and „negative sections“ which gradually turn into their opposite in ever repeating cycles. Unfortunately, most of Sidis´ writings can hardly be retrieved anymore. Some day, when I will be grown up, I want to write a note about Sidis, titled „The Transbodhidharma“.

In general, there is something brooding in me about those issues, which is, however, so embryonic that I cannot explicitely tell. Maybe I also refrain from sharing some thoughts in order not to possibly embarrass me, though I do not think this is the case since I am Yorick, the Fool and I can say whatever I like. I wanted to find an article about how supposedly improbable patters often arise since they aren´t improbable at all (due to some kind of path-dependency or so), but I cannot find it right now (fuck!).