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kzb
2014-Oct-08, 12:28 PM
New Brian Cox series BBC2 (UK). First episode Apeman Spaceman

Maybe this belongs in the small media forum, but I am focussing on just a couple of points here.

First, I note that Brian Cox is saying the universe has only just become conscious (in the last 250,000 years). In other words, he seems not to believe in any other conscious life in the universe other than our species.

Secondly, I had not heard of the theory that our evolution was intimately dependent on regular variation in the ellipticity of Earth's orbit. Apparently this varies on a 400,000 year timescale.

Coupled with precession and the chance creation of the Rift Valley, an environment was created with extreme and regular climate change. This is what drove hominid evolution. Step-changes in brain capacity occur every 400,000 years, in tune with the orbital ellipticity.

The point being, that evolution of consciousness depended on a long series of unlikely things, thereby being extremely unlikely in the universe.

Looks to me that Prof. Cox does not believe in ET.

Spacedude
2014-Oct-08, 02:13 PM
The point being, that evolution of consciousness depended on a long series of unlikely things, thereby being extremely unlikely in the universe.

When I read or hear comments such as "unlikely", or improbable, or a billion-to-one chance, etc. it still makes it very likely, very probable, and a very good chance that these things occur quite often when put in the context of a relatively infinite universe.

John Mendenhall
2014-Oct-08, 02:42 PM
New Brian Cox series BBC2 (UK). First episode Apeman Spaceman

Maybe this belongs in the small media forum, but I am focussing on just a couple of points here.

First, I note that Brian Cox is saying the universe has only just become conscious (in the last 250,000 years). In other words, he seems not to believe in any other conscious life in the universe other than our species.

Secondly, I had not heard of the theory that our evolution was intimately dependent on regular variation in the ellipticity of Earth's orbit. Apparently this varies on a 400,000 year timescale.

Coupled with precession and the chance creation of the Rift Valley, an environment was created with extreme and regular climate change. This is what drove hominid evolution. Step-changes in brain capacity occur every 400,000 years, in tune with the orbital ellipticity.

The point being, that evolution of consciousness depended on a long series of unlikely things, thereby being extremely unlikely in the universe.

Looks to me that Prof. Cox does not believe in ET.

I agree with Prof. Cox . More later. Science is what we observe not what we don't obsereve. Seen any aliens lately?

John Mendenhall
2014-Oct-08, 03:30 PM
When I read or hear comments such as "unlikely", or improbable, or a billion-to-one chance, etc. it still makes it very likely, very probable, and a very good chance that these things occur quite often when put in the context of a relatively infinite universe.

I also agree with space dude. In an infinite universe there will be other intelligent species. Problem is I don't think we will ever make contact. So based on what we observe we may as well assume we are the only intelligent species. Although the voice recognition software I am using here makes me wonder.

kzb
2014-Oct-08, 05:40 PM
He also stated we were descended from apes. Maybe this is what you get when particle physicists make programmes about biology. I don't know. But I assume he has consulted widely on the ideas in the episode. I'd certainly not heard of the orbital ellipticity driving brain growth before.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-09, 01:23 PM
I agree with Prof. Cox . More later. Science is what we observe not what we don't obsereve.

Science is the process of learning more about the universe. The universe is what we already know plus what we don't know yet.


Seen any aliens lately?

The word alien refers to a living thing whose home is another planet. Why would we expect to see any when we're just beginning to explore other planets?

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-09, 01:24 PM
He also stated we were descended from apes. Maybe this is what you get when particle physicists make programmes about biology. I don't know.

Do you object to that statement on the grounds that our ancestors weren't apes but were merely ape-like? Or on the grounds that we're still members of the ape family today? Or do you have some other reason for objecting?

Cougar
2014-Oct-09, 01:43 PM
Do you object to that statement on the grounds that our ancestors weren't apes but were merely ape-like?

I'd guess the objection is that apes and humans have a common ancestor, which is different than "being descended from." They went their way, we went ours.

primummobile
2014-Oct-09, 02:09 PM
I'd guess the objection is that apes and humans have a common ancestor, which is different than "being descended from." They went their way, we went ours.

That seems a little nitpicky to me. The last common ancestor between chimpanzees and humans is thought by many to have looked an awful lot like a chimpanzee.

Delvo
2014-Oct-09, 02:26 PM
It's so far beyond nitpicky that it becomes the opposite of nitpicky; nitpicking would be correcting an error and this is errorizing what was originally correct. It insists on the common ancestor not being an ape, which it was, by definition.

The only reason this particular anti-nitpick exists is because Creationists have also used the phrase "descended from apes" and some people are so obsessive about contradicting EVERYthing Creationists say that they forget to leave alone the rare examples of Creationists actually not being inaccurate about some little detail somewhere. It's like "correcting" someone for the using the word "gasoline" instead of the abbreviation "gas" because your uncle always said "gasoline" and you just can't stand your uncle.

Cougar
2014-Oct-09, 02:26 PM
Secondly, I had not heard of the theory that our evolution was intimately dependent on regular variation in the ellipticity of Earth's orbit. Apparently this varies on a 400,000 year timescale.

I hadn't heard that either. I looked up this ellipticity variation and did not see a "400,000 year timescale." For example:


The ellipticity of the Earth's orbit varies between extremes of zero (circular) and 0.06 in a cycle of 96,600 years. - source (http://atlantic.evsc.virginia.edu/~bph/AW_Book_Spring_96/AW_Book_28.html)

Over a 95,000 year cycle, the earth's orbit around the sun changes from a thin ellipse (oval) to a circle and back again. - source (http://www.world-mysteries.com/alignments/mpl_al3b.htm)


Well, apparently there's a cycle within a cycle. See the chart from the following source....


Eccentricity varies in time with periods of around 100,000 and 413,000 years. - source (http://solarphysics.livingreviews.org/open?pubNo=lrsp-2007-2&page=articlesu6.html)


Whether that grander cycle is the cause of "step-changes in [human] brain capacity," well, perhaps. I wonder if there are similar "step changes" in other species.....

KaiYeves
2014-Oct-09, 03:11 PM
I'd guess the objection is that apes and humans have a common ancestor, which is different than "being descended from." They went their way, we went ours.

I think if our common ancestors were still around, we would probably classify them as apes, the important thing in discussions of evolution is just to mention that our ancestors were not any species of ape that is alive today.

kzb
2014-Oct-09, 05:52 PM
It used to be emphasised when I was growing up that Darwin never stated that humans evolved from apes. No, what he said was that apes and man evolved from a common ancestor. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Place_in_Nature

But I now see what this means these days is that the modern ape species and man have a common ancestor.

This common ancestor was something similar to a gibbon, a "lesser ape" to distinguish from a "great ape".

primummobile
2014-Oct-09, 06:04 PM
Is there really any agreement on what the LCA was between humans and apes?

from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee%E2%80%93human_last_common_ancestor


A source of confusion in determining the exact age of the Pan–Homo split is evidence of a more complex speciation process rather than a clean split between the two lineages. Different chromosomes appear to have split at different times, possibly over as much as a 4 million year period, indicating a long and drawn out speciation process with large scale hybridization events between the two emerging lineages.[5] Particularly the X chromosome shows very little difference between Humans and chimpanzees, though this effect may also partly be the result of rapid evolution of the X chromosome in the last common ancestors.[6] Complex speciation and incomplete lineage sorting of genetic sequences seem to also have happened in the split between our lineage and that of the gorilla, indicating "messy" speciation is the rule rather than exception in large-bodied primates.[7][8] Such a scenario would explain why divergence age between the Homo and Pan has varied with the chosen method and why a single point has been so far hard to track down.

Richard Wrangham argued that the CHLCA was so similar to chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), that it should be classified as a member of the Pan genus, and called Pan prior.[9]

(my bold) There has never been any fossilized evidence of this so-called Pan prior found, and its existence is only inferred from the common genetics between humans and chimpanzees. But with all the more that the Homo genus has diverged from the Pan genus in the last five million years or so, I can't imagine that our LCA was that different from either one of us. In particular, I can't imagine that it was that different from early Homo.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-09, 10:36 PM
It used to be emphasised when I was growing up that Darwin never stated that humans evolved from apes. No, what he said was that apes and man evolved from a common ancestor. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Place_in_Nature

But I now see what this means these days is that the modern ape species and man have a common ancestor.

This common ancestor was something similar to a gibbon, a "lesser ape" to distinguish from a "great ape".


Is there really any agreement on what the LCA was between humans and apes?

There are two distinct questions here:

1. what was the last common ancestor of humans and our closest ape relatives (chimpanzees and bonobos)?
2. what was the last common ancestor of humans and apes generally (including gibbons, orangutans and gorillas, as well as chimps, bonobos and humans)?

Now that genetic evidence has established how closely humans, chimps and bonobos are related, one would logically expect the LCA of chimpanzees and humans to be more chimp-like, more human-like and less gibbon-like, compared to the last common ancestor of the whole ape-human family.

A fossil species suggested as being close to the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans is Sahelanthropus tchadensis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahelanthropus). The last common ancestor of humans and apes generally would have been closer to Proconsul (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proconsul_(primate)).

Jens
2014-Oct-09, 11:00 PM
It used to be emphasised when I was growing up that Darwin never stated that humans evolved from apes.

I think that some of the problem deals with one's definition of ape. There's a book about humans called The Naked Ape, so on some level I think it is possible to feel that we are apes ourselves. When I go to the zoo and see chimps, I definitely feel a sort of empathy that I don't feel with other mammals. I can easily see ourselves as apes in thee same way that I can see orcas as big dolphins, for example. Categories like that are somewhat artificial.

Jens
2014-Oct-09, 11:07 PM
It used to be emphasised when I was growing up that Darwin never stated that humans evolved from apes.

I think that some of the problem deals with one's definition of ape. There's a book about humans called The Naked Ape, so on some level I think it is possible to feel that we are apes ourselves. When I go to the zoo and see chimps, I definitely feel a sort of empathy that I don't feel with other mammals. I can easily see ourselves as apes in thee same way that I can see orcas as big dolphins, for example. Categories like that are somewhat artificial.

primummobile
2014-Oct-09, 11:19 PM
Does anyone know if there is a way to view this documentary in the United States? I tried to watch it online and the BBC only permits you to watch online content if you are in the UK. As much as I like it over there, I can't justify a trip just to watch this.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-10, 12:39 AM
I think that some of the problem deals with one's definition of ape. There's a book about humans called The Naked Ape, so on some level I think it is possible to feel that we are apes ourselves. When I go to the zoo and see chimps, I definitely feel a sort of empathy that I don't feel with other mammals. I can easily see ourselves as apes in thee same way that I can see orcas as big dolphins, for example. Categories like that are somewhat artificial.

I can relate to what you say about sense of empathy with chimps. I've had that feeling too.

Categories are artificial, yes, and the word "ape" is used in different ways by biologists as well as non-biologists. Traditionally it didn't include humans. But now that genetic evidence shows that chimps and humans are closer relatives than chimps and gorillas, it seems a bit illogical to put chimps and gorillas into a category which doesn't include humans as well.

So chimps, humans, gorillas and gibbons are now all categorised into the superfamily Honinoidea, and some biologists (e.g. Michael J. Benton) use the word "ape" for any member of that superfamily, including humans.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-10, 12:49 AM
The Australian Museum website (http://australianmuseum.net.au/Humans-are-apes-Great-Apes) says straightforwardly:


There are four types of Great Apes the orang-utans, gorillas, chimpanzees and humans.

primummobile
2014-Oct-10, 12:52 AM
The Australian Museum website (http://australianmuseum.net.au/Humans-are-apes-Great-Apes) says straightforwardly:

I think that's universal. Wikipedia redirects "great apes" to the Hominidae page.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-10, 01:15 AM
I think that's universal. Wikipedia redirects "great apes" to the Hominidae page.

Yes, but Note 1 on the Hominidae page of WP says:


"Great ape" is a common name rather than a taxonomic label, and there are differences in usage. It may exclude human beings ("humans and the great apes") or include them ("humans and nonhuman great apes").

primummobile
2014-Oct-10, 01:17 AM
I understand that. I'm just saying that I've never seen a source where there weren't four great apes.

Solfe
2014-Oct-10, 01:21 AM
Subscribe.

Delvo
2014-Oct-10, 01:25 AM
ANY clade is an ancestor and all of its descendants. Thus, once any group of species have been declared descendants of a common ancestor, that ancestor is a member of the same group, regardless of whether it's ever been observed or what traits it might have had.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-10, 01:33 AM
I understand that. I'm just saying that I've never seen a source where there weren't four great apes.

If you list bonobos and chimps separately, then along with gorillas and orangutans you get a total of four great apes even without us humans.

Delvo
2014-Oct-10, 01:34 AM
I had not heard of the theory that our evolution was intimately dependent on regular variation in the ellipticity of Earth's orbit. Apparently this varies on a 400,000 year timescale.

Coupled with precession and the chance creation of the Rift Valley, an environment was created with extreme and regular climate change. This is what drove hominid evolution....

evolution of consciousness depended on a long series of unlikely thingsIt could very well be true that a series of environmental changes compelled evolutionary changes that led to us becoming what we are now. It's a pretty common, standard thought among biologists, paleontologists, & such.

Where Cox seems to have gone wrong is thinking that a result comparable to the result we have depends on exactly the kinds of changes our ancestors were subjected to, so that some other series of environmental changes would not have had a comparable result. Any one lottery number is unlikely to win, but any number can, and one number or another does win regularly.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-10, 01:45 AM
ANY clade is an ancestor and all of its descendants. Thus, once any group of species have been declared descendants of a common ancestor, that ancestor is a member of the same group, regardless of whether it's ever been observed or what traits it might have had.

Yes, but there are a lot of traditional and widely used categories which aren't clades. E.g. the category "fish" is not a clade, because it doesn't include the tetrapods. It would be possible to change the usage of the word "fish" to include all the descendants of the last common ancestor of the fish. With that usage "humans are fish" would be a true statement.

primummobile
2014-Oct-10, 05:45 AM
If you list bonobos and chimps separately, then along with gorillas and orangutans you get a total of four great apes even without us humans.

I know. But most sources don't list them separately, and those that do usually list five great apes instead of four.

I'm not really sure what you are arguing. You said that it seems illogical to put chimps and gorillas into a category that doesn't include humans, and I am trying to agree with you and explain that most sources don't. You can argue the minutiae all day. It isn't going to change the fact that most people agree with the statement that humans, gorillas, orangutans, and chimps belong in the same group, and they list them as such. Are there exceptions? Of course. But most sources, an myself, agree with you that it doesn't make a lot of sense to categorize humans in a group distinct from the other three. If you want to list bonobos as distinct from chimps, then my statement would be that it doesn't make a lot of sense to categorize humans distinctly from the other four. Four, five, whatever. You can categorize two or three separate species of gorilla. Then it could be six or seven. It's not going to change what I am saying. And that is merely that humans belong in the same group and that most sources agree with that.

Delvo
2014-Oct-10, 05:57 AM
The group in question here was apes, and the question was whether the ancestor of all apes was an ape (because "we're not descended from apes but have a common ancestor with them" equals saying that the common ancestor was not an ape).

If apes are a clade, the ancestor must be an ape; if it isn't, they're not, but then there's still the issue of exactly how & why the group deviates from being a clade, especially in an argument that defines them all as coming from a single common ancestor anyway, which would by definition be a clade until some exception gets added to that definition. The only basis for apes not being a clade is the tradition of excluding humans from it, but then, you're still deviating from a cladistic definition of the group at the "living descendants" end, not at the "ancestor" end, defining "apes" as the counterpart clade minus humans. For the argument that the common ancestor of any two members of that clade wasn't an ape to have any validity, you'd need to define "apes" not as the clade minus humans, but as the clade minus humans and also the common ancestor. And that would be circular: adding yet another extra element to the word's definition just for the goal of being able to say that the definition includes that element you're adding.

Also, there's the biological reason why the ancestor is always included in a clade: the ancestor has the clade's defining traits, since that's where the descendants inherited them from. So if the ancestor of apes were available to examine now, we'd call it an ape because it would have the traits that make apes apes.

Colin Robinson
2014-Oct-10, 07:23 AM
I'm not really sure what you are arguing. You said that it seems illogical to put chimps and gorillas into a category that doesn't include humans, and I am trying to agree with you and explain that most sources don't.


What am I arguing?

I agree with Jens that categories like "ape" are artificial. Whether the statement "humans are apes" is true or false really depends on how the word "ape" is being used.

When I googled "humans are apes", the top results included the Australian Museum saying yes they are, and the American evolutionary anthropologist John D. Hawks saying no they're not (http://johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/phylogeny/taxonomy/humans-arent-apes-2012.html). Hawks' argument is based on traditional usage of the word "ape" in the English language. He isn't denying that humans and chimpanzees are related.

I do think there are good logical reasons why biologists including the Australian Museum people categorise human beings as great apes. But would a museum in Sydney rate so highly on Google if there wasn't something a little unusual in what they say, or at least in how they say it?

kzb
2014-Oct-10, 12:06 PM
I think Prof. Cox was a little cleverer than I thought, with his apparently throw-away line. I wonder if this has stirred up a comment storm on the BBC website?

Delvo wrote:

Where Cox seems to have gone wrong is thinking that a result comparable to the result we have depends on exactly the kinds of changes our ancestors were subjected to, so that some other series of environmental changes would not have had a comparable result. Any one lottery number is unlikely to win, but any number can, and one number or another does win regularly.

Yes I was thinking along these lines. It's not enough to show that the precise chain of events leading to us was very unlikely. That's because there could be a very large number of individually unlikely paths that lead to evolution of consciousness.

Nevertheless, at least going by this episode, he seems to think we're unique. Perhaps all will become clear in later episodes.

primummobile
2014-Oct-10, 12:20 PM
All categories and classifications are artificial. Dogs are the most diverse species on the planet, yet we classify all of them as the same species. An alien coming here and trying to learn about our taxonomic categorization system would be pretty confused about why we say that a Chihuahua is the same animal as a Mastiff, but Siberian Huskies and Gray Wolves were different species until about twenty years ago. Rabbits used to be rodents. We used to think that mastodons were closely related to mammoths.

I'm forty years old, and when I was in college twenty years ago, we were just beginning to really study the genetics of different species and compare them to one another. Since then, there have been massive changes to our taxonomic naming system, but the biology of the animals has remained the same. The biggest difference between humans and what were traditionally referred to as apes is behavior. I would think that before the development of language the behavior of the homo genus was quite a bit more similar behaviorally to the apes than it is now. As we know now, there isn't much genetic difference between us and the other great apes. In fact, every other great ape is a member of family Hominidae, and that is the closest taxonomic relation any of them have to one another. As we are part of the same family, it seems silly to not include humans in with them when we speak of them.

I can certainly forgive an anthropologist for trying to weasel his way around it to make humans distinct from the great apes, but I think they are wrong. Anthropologists make a career out of studying humans, particularly human socialization and behavior. In my opinion, Hawk is biased by his educational background. He doesn't come out and say it but I think he is making a distinction based upon behavior, which is tied to the ability to communicate abstract thoughts, instead of biology. I find his argument about the differences in word meanings between languages to be spurious. Just because the French don't have different words for "ape" and "monkey" doesn't mean that we shouldn't either. It means that French is missing a word. All languages are missing concepts that other languages have. Additionally, the colloquial usage of words changes all the time. We call the dark plains on the moon maria, which is Latin for "seas" because that's what we thought they were. When we learned differently, the English meaning of the word changed.

As for the divide on this, it looks like you are right and I apologize. Until I started checking into this, I honestly never heard an argument, other than a religious or political argument, that humans were not apes. But I do have to say that Google results depend quite a bit on number of clicks, your location, and how you phrase the search.

kzb
2014-Oct-14, 11:20 AM
If you say "humans are descended from apes". it means you think humans are different to apes. Otherwise it would be like saying apes are descended from apes.

primummobile
2014-Oct-14, 11:22 AM
If you say "humans are descended from apes". it means you think humans are different to apes. Otherwise it would be like saying apes are descended from apes.

I am descended from a family of white people. I am a white person.

kzb
2014-Oct-14, 12:44 PM
I am descended from a family of white people. I am a white person.

Yes you are saying a white person descended from white people. It's obvious and it does not need saying, just like apes descending from apes.

If you'd said a white person had descended from green people, that says there is a difference between green and white people.

In this context, descended means there is also a change, not simply descended in the family tree sense.

primummobile
2014-Oct-14, 01:28 PM
I'm of the opinion that humans are a type of ape, but I also disagree with your semantics. That's unimportant. We just disagree.

lee banner
2014-Oct-14, 02:26 PM
Maybe space doesn't exist until it is observed and only the part that is observed by intelligent life exists at the time it's observed

kzb
2014-Oct-14, 05:32 PM
Maybe space doesn't exist until it is observed and only the part that is observed by intelligent life exists at the time it's observed

That will be on tonight's episode. It can only be a matter of time before he gets round to this.

kzb
2014-Oct-15, 11:28 AM
Maybe space doesn't exist until it is observed and only the part that is observed by intelligent life exists at the time it's observed

We weren't so far off as it happens with episode 2.

There are a vast number, possibly an infinite number of universes. A subset of those universes have (by chance) their fundamental constants in the correct range for life to evolve. A subset of those have intelligent life, etc etc.

We HAD to be. Saying that it was unbelievable odds against us being here is the wrong way of looking at it, as was illustrated rather well by the lottery ticket analogy.

WHat he seems to be saying is that, anything with a finite chance of happening (no matter how small) actually MUST happen, if there are an infinity of universes. Not only that, but it must happen an infinite number of times.

It finished with him asking how does that make you feel, that there are an infinite number of copies of you all doing the same thing ?

kzb
2014-Oct-22, 11:36 AM
I suppose I should say "Spoiler Alert" before this.

Brian Cox thinks that we are unique in the galaxy.
The great filter could be the creation of eukaryotic cells.

The oceans of Earth must've held massive populations of prokaryotes. There were only prokaryotes on Earth for about 2 billion years.

But all multi-cellular organisms on Earth are descended from one cell.

This original cell was created by the merger of two prokaryotic cells. The merged cell went on to divide as a symbiotic organism rather than one cell eat the other (which is the normal sequence of events).

The point being, because of the massive populations and the huge amount of time it took for just one such merged cell to arise by chance, it must be a very rare event in the universe. So rare that maybe there's only one planet in the galaxy (Earth) where it has happened thus far.

Works for me.

I thought it refreshing that this uniqueness theory was put forward rather than the usual TV cliches about there being loads of intelligent ETs out there. Perhaps it's made a few people think.

KlausH
2014-Oct-22, 12:16 PM
There are a vast number, possibly an infinite number of universes. A subset of those universes have (by chance) their fundamental constants in the correct range for life to evolve. A subset of those have intelligent life, etc etc.

We HAD to be. Saying that it was unbelievable odds against us being here is the wrong way of looking at it, as was illustrated rather well by the lottery ticket analogy.

WHat he seems to be saying is that, anything with a finite chance of happening (no matter how small) actually MUST happen, if there are an infinity of universes. Not only that, but it must happen an infinite number of times.

It finished with him asking how does that make you feel, that there are an infinite number of copies of you all doing the same thing ?

That kind of "logic" only makes any kind of sense if you make a lot of assumptions.
For example that fundamental constants are independent of each other and can take on any value.

If certain constants were dependent on each other and could only occur together (because of laws we know nothing about) the picture would look very different.
Or if certain constants can only have certain values or if one constant has a certain value certain other constants must be restricted in terms of the value they can have, etc, etc.
We know nothing about these things, not even enough to make "educated guesses".

If fundamental constants are not independent of each other or can not have any value there may very well be an infinite number of universes that are all very much alike with little variations.

kzb
2014-Oct-22, 05:53 PM
You could also ask, why is there quantum mechanics in the first place? Where did those rules come from?

We know nothing about these things, not even enough to make "educated guesses".

You're right there!

MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Nov-06, 12:29 AM
There is a huge difference between an "infinite" universe and just a really, really vast universe. An infinite universe INEVITABLY makes possible another Earth with other copies of us down to the individual. Infinity would make infinite copies of Earth exist.

If you are familiar with level 1, 2, 3, 4 parallel universes than you know an infinite universe is level 1 where it exists in the same space and dimension as ours. Or if you're familiar with physicists like Max Tegmark, Michi Kaku etc.

http://space.mit.edu/home/tegmark/main_crazy.html#levels

MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Nov-06, 07:00 AM
Maybe space doesn't exist until it is observed and only the part that is observed by intelligent life exists at the time it's observed

Are you referring to the double slit experiment with electrons?

kzb
2014-Nov-06, 12:42 PM
Just to be clear I am simply attempting to state what was said by Prof Cox on the TV programme. I am not saying I necessarily agree or even know enough to agree or disagree.

I was surprised how topical the final episode was. The statement "next week" [the Rosetta probe] will land on a comet. The inclusion of the Virgin Galactic mishap. I thought these series were "in the can" months before broadcast, but this seems to say no to that.

Maybe it explains why the final two episodes were a bit random. Seemed rushed to me, and largely a re-hash of stuff from his other series. A pity really because I thought the first two episodes were good and would've stretched the ideas of some members of the public.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Cox_(physicist)

Cougar
2014-Nov-06, 01:34 PM
There are a vast number, possibly an infinite number of universes.

No, there aren't.

Two opposing claims. How to tell which is right? Apparently there's no way to tell. Even in principle. Self-consistency is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a conjecture to be considered scientific.

kzb
2014-Nov-06, 06:11 PM
No, there aren't.

Two opposing claims. How to tell which is right? Apparently there's no way to tell. Even in principle. Self-consistency is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a conjecture to be considered scientific.

The way to tell is that the universe (our universe) has physical constants fine-tuned to allow conscious life such as ourselves. As such it is part of a small subset of universes.

Otherwise you have to explain how physical constants are just right to allow life, and sufficient time for evolution. This was illustrated rather well I thought by the lottery ticket analogy in the episode.

But as I said above, I am only reporting what Brian Cox says. I too find it a stretch to imagine the reality of an infinite number of universes. I prefer a quantum theory idea, that is, all other possible universes are virtual. They never actually came into existence because they are not observed. But I'm not a professor of physics.

Noclevername
2014-Nov-06, 08:16 PM
The way to tell is that the universe (our universe) has physical constants fine-tuned to allow conscious life such as ourselves.

Got it backwards. Conscious life is adapted to the conditions of the Universe.

Githyanki
2014-Nov-06, 08:30 PM
What is interesting is the time in which life emerged on Earth; as soon as Earth could support life, it emerged. Life may be a natural process and we should look to Mars to see if life emerged there as well. It took about four-billion years for Earth to evolve a species capable of leaving the atmosphere; that is a long, long, long time.

kzb
2014-Nov-07, 01:02 PM
Got it backwards. Conscious life is adapted to the conditions of the Universe.

No it's not backward at all.
It would take only very small adjustments to physical constants and life would've been impossible. It's even statistically unlikely the universe would last long enough with the correct matter density. Most possible universes would've either dispersed in a flash or contracted right back down in an eyeblink.

Noclevername
2014-Nov-07, 05:05 PM
No it's not backward at all.
It would take only very small adjustments to physical constants and life would've been impossible.

Life as we know it would be impossible.


It's even statistically unlikely the universe would last long enough with the correct matter density. Most possible universes would've either dispersed in a flash or contracted right back down in an eyeblink.

(Unless they developed a dense amount of something other than baryons. Or if the mass balance isn't as vital as we think.)

MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Nov-07, 08:08 PM
Most possible universes would've either dispersed in a flash or contracted right back down in an eyeblink.

Depends on your definition of a parallel universe as there are many versions of how parallel universes can exist. In some of these time or space or gravity don't exist at all. So they would do neither contract or disperse without time and/or gravity existing in them in the first place since they would have totally different laws of physics.

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-theory-of-parallel-universes.html

kzb
2014-Nov-10, 12:13 PM
The point being though that only a subset of possible universes have the ability to evolve conscious life. We are in one of them. There are also a lot, probably the majority, of possible universes where any kind of conscious life is not possible.

swampyankee
2014-Nov-10, 04:37 PM
I agree with Prof. Cox . More later. Science is what we observe not what we don't obsereve. Seen any aliens lately?

I haven't seen any empirical evidence for vibrating, multi-dimensional strings, either: we don't have the technology to perform the tests. That's the situation we are in regarding ET -- we can't test the hypothesis. Perhaps we will never be able to, so it may remain an open question.

Noclevername
2014-Nov-11, 02:04 PM
The point being though that only a subset of possible universes have the ability to evolve conscious life. We are in one of them. There are also a lot, probably the majority, of possible universes where any kind of conscious life is not possible.

[citation needed]

swampyankee
2014-Nov-11, 04:33 PM
No it's not backward at all.
It would take only very small adjustments to physical constants and life would've been impossible. It's even statistically unlikely the universe would last long enough with the correct matter density. Most possible universes would've either dispersed in a flash or contracted right back down in an eyeblink.

Then we wouldn't be here talking about it. I think there is a major logical fallacy in concluding that there must be multiple universes based on the small changes in the physical constants make life impossible. It only proves that we're alive in such a universe; it says nothing about the presence or absence of others.

kzb
2014-Nov-11, 06:03 PM
[citation needed]

Brian Cox, Human Universe, Episode 2. From Wikipedia:

"Why are we here?"First broadcast: 14 Oct 2014 at 9:00 pm on BBC Two

Brian Cox tackles the question that unites the 7 billion people on Earth: Why are we here?

Brian reveals how the wonderful complexity of nature and human life is simply the consequence of chance events constrained by the laws of physics that govern our universe. But this leads him to a deeper question - why does our universe seem to have been set up with just the right rules to create us? In a dizzying conclusion Brian unpacks this question, revealing the very latest understanding of how the universe came to be this way, and in doing so offers a radical new answer to why we are here

kzb
2014-Nov-11, 06:15 PM
Then we wouldn't be here talking about it. I think there is a major logical fallacy in concluding that there must be multiple universes based on the small changes in the physical constants make life impossible. It only proves that we're alive in such a universe; it says nothing about the presence or absence of others.

I'm only saying what was on the programme. I prefer the strong anthropic principle myself.

swampyankee
2014-Nov-12, 11:12 AM
Maybe space doesn't exist until it is observed and only the part that is observed by intelligent life exists at the time it's observed

I absolutely hate the "it doesn't exist until it's observed by something intelligent" meme. It is, in my opinion, as bad as any of the New Age woo, and, worse, justifies anything the woo-sellers say. Don't defend it by saying it fits the math; there is some guy who worked out the math to show the Earth was on the inside surface of a hollow sphere.

KABOOM
2014-Nov-12, 02:04 PM
The point being though that only a subset of possible universes have the ability to evolve conscious life. We are in one of them. There are also a lot, probably the majority, of possible universes where any kind of conscious life is not possible.

There is zero hard evidence that any alternate universe has, does or will exist with different laws of physics (and related constants) than those which govern our own (only?) universe. Musings to the contrary are essentially a marriage of philosophy supported by mathematics.

The universe is intergrated phenomena in which each and every part of it is co-dependent on many other parts of it. No different than the puddle on the sidewalk looking up and ascribing "uniqueness" to the laws of physics and mathmetical probabilities that gave rise to its existence.

Noclevername
2014-Nov-12, 02:25 PM
Brian reveals how the wonderful complexity of nature and human life is simply the consequence of chance events constrained by the laws of physics that govern our universe. But this leads him to a deeper question - why does our universe seem to have been set up with just the right rules to create us? In a dizzying conclusion Brian unpacks this question, revealing the very latest understanding of how the universe came to be this way, and in doing so offers a radical new answer to why we are here

The universe appears to be "created for us" because we exist this way. It's like a puddle asking why the hole it fits in is perfectly puddle shaped. Life in another universe may be life of a different order entirely, and view its own alien conditions as "perfect".

Barabino
2014-Nov-13, 06:52 AM
It's like a puddle asking why the hole it fits in is perfectly puddle shaped.

In this sentence you have perfectly summarized (and voided) all that "anthropic principle" bull language

grapes
2014-Nov-13, 07:03 AM
It's like a puddle asking why the hole it fits in is perfectly puddle shaped.

In this sentence you have perfectly summarized (and voided) all that "anthropic principle" bull
Actually what he's done is summarized the anthropic principle, and it's valid in the case of a puddle.

Barabino
2014-Nov-25, 02:39 PM
that`s the point: if AP is valid for everybody including puddles... it`s ludicrous! :clap: