'The Hoyle State' --"Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for the Formation of Carbon and Oxygen?"
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March 14, 2013

'The Hoyle State' --"Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for the Formation of Carbon and Oxygen?"

 

 

          Ghelix (1)

 

Is the Universe fine-tuned for life? A team of physicists is looking at the conditions necessary to the formation of carbon and oxygen two elements in the universe that are the foundation of life as we currently know it. They’ve found that when it comes to supporting life, the universe leaves very little margin for error.

“The Hoyle state of carbon is key,” says NC State physicist Dean Lee. “If the Hoyle state energy was at 479 keV or more above the three alpha particles, then the amount of carbon produced would be too low for carbon-based life. The same holds true for oxygen,” he adds. “If the Hoyle state energy were instead within 279 keV of the three alphas, then there would be plenty of carbon. But the stars would burn their helium into carbon much earlier in their life cycle. As a consequence, the stars would not be hot enough to produce sufficient oxygen for life. In our lattice simulations, we find that more than a 2 or 3 percent change in the light quark mass would lead to problems with the abundance of either carbon or oxygen in the universe.”

Both carbon and oxygen are produced when helium burns inside of giant red stars. Carbon-12, an essential element we’re all made of, can only form when three alpha particles, or helium-4 nuclei, combine in a very specific way. The key to formation is an excited state of carbon-12 known as the Hoyle state, and it has a very specific energy – measured at 379 keV (or 379,000 electron volts) above the energy of three alpha particles. Oxygen is produced by the combination of another alpha particle and carbon.

The international team -- Lee and German colleagues Evgeny Epelbaum, Hermann Krebs, Timo Laehde and Ulf-G. Meissner-- had previously confirmed the existence and structure of the Hoyle state with a numerical lattice that allowed the researchers to simulate how protons and neutrons interact. These protons and neutrons are made up of elementary particles called quarks. The light quark mass is one of the fundamental parameters of nature, and this mass affects particles’ energies.

 

           FateCarbonLife

 

In new lattice calculations done at the Juelich Supercomputer Centre the physicists found that just a slight variation in the light quark mass will change the energy of the Hoyle state, and this in turn would affect the production of carbon and oxygen in such a way that life as we know it wouldn’t exist.carbon and oxygen production and the viability of carbon-based life.

In new lattice calculations done at the Juelich Supercomputer Center the physicists found that just a slight variation in the light quark mass will change the energy of the Hoyle state, and this in turn would affect the production of carbon and oxygen in such a way that life as we know it wouldn’t exist.

The researchers’ findings appear in Physical Review Letters.

Image credit: Dean Lee. Earth and Mercury images from NASA and  http://www.physics.sfsu.edu/~lwilliam/sota/anth/anthropic_principle_index.html



Comments

Some possibilities:
1. A Creator designed this one and only universe where species must evolve and creatures are forced to kill and consume each other in order to live. What does that say about the Creator?

2. Does this universe really care whether life as we know it exists?

3. If the/a Creator is truly "just, all-powerful and all-knowing", then we must have lived other lives before this one and this life must be a result of something we did in another life which would mean there are other "universes", possibly other existences.

4. There are just as many universes as there are stars, possibly more and ours just happens to produce life as we know it.

5. Why would a Creator create a universe that ultimately has an end?

"...life as we know it wouldn’t exist."

What about life as we don't know it?

My belief is that there is only one "universe" consisting of positive and negative charges (a result of the uncertainty principle and quantum mechanics which separate them) which form a vast chaotic "sea". Our "universe" is simply a series of steps thru' it moving from one quantum state of time to another in a path dictated by the laws of physics. Any change to the laws of physics would result in a different path, therefore a different "universe". Life as we know it exists by our choice of the laws of physics we are constrained to follow, which give us "time", "gravity", "matter", "momentum", etc. We perceive this as the one-way passage of time.

The last two paragraphs are copies of each other, nearly. The second-to-last has an extra sentence fragment on it.

The key phrase here to me is "(life) as we know it." Is it possible that life (or consciousness) could have still developed in a different form without an abundance of oxygen or carbon?

okay, so what? So a particular kind of life exists because the parameters were right for it. if they were different, it would be some other kind of life that would be looking at this fact.If there are other universes, maybe silicon life forms are more prevalent because the parameters are leaning towards their kind of life. It doesn't mean anything, or indicate some intelligence is involved.

It's called the Anthropic Principal, it comes in 2 varieties (weak and strong). Which, if either, of these interpretations are correct is such an old and pointless argument that nobody actually bothers with it anymore outside of first year physics and philosophy classes (which may take similar or opposing stances on the topic, often depending on how far south the university in question may be).

The observable universe is the way that it is, which is not necessarily the way that we observe it to be. If the universe were drastically different than it is, we wouldn't be here to observe it. Maybe something else would be here to observe it. Maybe not. We just can't possibly know.

Either way, there's no proof of God or a creator in science, nor is their proof of no God or creator.

Isn't it weird how out of so many, many species since the beginning of life here on this planet, with the possible exception of some earlier humanoid species, homo-sapiens are the only ones that have the ability to ask questions about a possible "Creator"?

What if this universe had the ability to think itself into being and is our Creator? And what is "time"? If I'm thinking about space/time as a membrane, is that membrane physically moving through something else we're not aware of?


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