A large number of books have been written in the past ten years to summarize
this surprising feature of our universe; namely, that the universal constants
have to be "just so" to have a universe suitable for life. A partial list includes
The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by Barrow and Tipler (1986), Universes by
John Leslie (1989), The Accidental Universe (1982), Superforce (1984), and The
Cosmic Blueprint (1988) by Davies, Cosmic Coincidences by Gribbin and Rees,
The Anthropic Principle by Reinhard Breuer (1991), Universal Constants in Physics
by Gilles Cohen-Tannoudji (1993), The Creation Hypothesis edited by J.P. Moreland
(1994) and Mere Creation edited by William Dembski (1998). I will illustrate
this "just so" requirement for the various universal constants and properties of matter
by sharing several examples.

Physical Fine Structure Constants– The four forces in nature may each be expressed
in a dimensionless fashion to allow their relative strengths as they act in
nature to be expressed in a way that facilitates comparison. These are summarized
in Table 2, and are seen to vary by 1041, or 41 orders of magnitude (10 with
40 additional zeros after it). Yet modest changes in any of these constants
produce dramatic changes in the universe which render it unsuitable for life.
Several examples will serve to illustrate this "fine tuned" nature of our universe.

?The relative magnitude of the gravity force and the electromagnetic force has
been found to be crucial for multiple reasons. Note from Table 2 that the electromagnetic
force is 1038 times stronger than the gravity force. It is the force of gravity
that draws protons together in stars causing them to fuse together with a concurrent
release of energy. The electromagnetic force causes them to repel. Because the
gravity force is so weak by comparison to the electromagnetic force, the rate
at which stars "burn" by fusion is very slow, allowing the stars to provide a stable
source of energy over a very long period of time. If this ratio of strengths
had been 1032 instead of 1038 (i.e., gravity were much stronger), stars would
be a billion times less massive and would burn a million times faster.

?The frequency distribution of electromagnetic radiation produced by the sun
is also critical, as it needs to be tuned to the energies of chemical bonds
on earth. If the photons of radiation are too energetic (too much ultraviolet
radiation), then chemical bonds are destroyed and molecules are unstable; if the photons
are too weak (too much infrared radiation), then chemical reactions will be
too sluggish. The radiation produced is dependent on a careful balancing of
the electromagnetic force (alpha-E) and the gravity force (alpha-G), with the
mathematical relationship including (alpha-E)12 , making the specification for
the electromagnetic force particularly critical. On the other hand, the chemical
bonding energy comes from quantum mechanical calculations that include the electromagnetic
force, the mass of the electron, and Planck’s constant. Thus, all of these constants
have to be sized relative to each other to give a universe in which radiation
is tuned to the necessary chemical reactions that are essential for life.

?Another interesting fine tuning coincidence is that the emission spectrum for
the sun not only peaks at an energy level which is idea to facilitate chemical
reaction but it also peaks in the optical window for water. Water is 107 more
opaque to ultraviolet and infrared radiation than it is to radiation in the visible spectra
(or what we call light). Since living tissue in general and eyes in particular
are composed mainly of water, communication by sight would be impossible were
it not for this unique window of light transmission by water being ideally matched
to the radiation from the sun. Yet this matching requires carefully prescribing
the values of the gravity and electromagnetic force constants as well as the
Planck’s constant and the mass of the electron.

?Next consider the strength of the nuclear strong force. The most critical element
in nature for the development of life is carbon. Yet, it has recently become
apparent that the abundance of carbon in nature is the result of a very precise
balancing of the strong force and the electromagnetic force, which determine the
quantum energy levels for nuclei. Only certain energy levels are permitted for
nuclei and these may be thought of as steps on a ladder. If the mass-energy
for two colliding particles results in a combined mass-energy which is equal to or
slightly less than a permissible energy level on the quantum "energy ladder",
then the two nuclei will readily stick together or fuse on collision, with the
energy difference needed to reach the step being supplied by the kinetic energy
of the colliding particles. If this mass-energy level for the combined particles
is exactly right, or "just so", then the collisions are said to have resonance,
which is to say a high efficiency of collisions giving fusion of the colliding
particles. If the combined mass-energy results in a value which is slightly
higher than one of the permissible energy levels on "energy ladder", then the
particles will simply bounce off of each other rather than sticking together,
or fusing. Hoyle (1970) predicted that the existence of the unknown resonance energy
level for carbon, and it was subsequently found to exist. The fusion of helium
and beryllium give a mass-energy value that is 4% less than the resonance energy
in carbon, which is easily made up by kinetic energy. Equally important was
the discovery that the mass-energy for the fusion of carbon with helium was
1% greater than quantum energy level on the "energy ladder" for oxygen, making
this reaction quite unfavorable. Thus, almost all beryllium is converted to carbon,
but only a small fraction of the carbon is immediately converted to oxygen.
These two results require the specification of the relative strength of the
strong force and the electromagnetic force to within ~1%, which is truly remarkable
in view of their large absolute values and difference of a factor of 100X, as
seen in Table 2.

?In a more general vain, a 2% increase in the strong force relative to the electromagnetic
force leaves the universe with no hydrogen, no long-lived stars which burn hydrogen,
and no water (which is a molecule composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen at
om), the ultimate solvent for life. A decrease of only 5% in the strong force
relative to the electromagnetic force would prevent the formation of deuterons
from combination of protons and neutrons, which would in turn prevent the formation
of all the heavier nuclei through fusion of deuterons to form helium, helium
fusion with helium to form beryllium and so forth. Rozental (1980) estimates
that the strong force had to be within 0.8 and 1.2 times its actual strength
for there to be deuterons and all elements of atomic weight 4 or more.

?If the weak force coupling constant (see Table 2) were slightly larger, neutrons
would decay more rapidly, reducing the production of deuterons, and thus, of
helium and elements with heavier nuclei. On the other hand, if the weak force
coupling constant were slightly weaker, the big-bang would burn almost all of
the hydrogen into helium with the ultimate outcome being a universe with little
or no hydrogen and many heavier elements instead. This would le
ave no long-term
stars and no hydrogen containing compounds, especially water. Breuer (1991) notes
that appropriate mix of hydrogen and helium to provide hydrogen containing compounds,
long term stars, and heavier elements is approximately 75% hydrogen and 25%
helium, which is just what we find in our universe. This balance requires that the
weak force coupling constant (alpha-W) be proportioned to the gravity force
coupling constant (alpha-G) in the following proportion: (alpha-W)4 ~ (alpha-G),
which one can see from Table 2 is in fact satisfied.

?This is only an illustrative but not exhaustive list of examples of cosmic
coincidences that clearly demonstrate that the four forces in nature have been
very carefully scaled to give a universe that provides long-term sources of
energy and a variety of atomic building blocks which are necessary for life.
Many other examples are summarized in the books cited, some of which are quite
amusing. For example, a much larger value of gravity would give a greater likelihood
that when we fall down, we would break due to the much greater gravity force. But
what should we think about the elementary particles and other universal constants
such as the speed of light and the Planck’s constant? Do they also have to be
very precisely specified?

?Masses of Elementary Particles and Other Universal Constants–It has been surprising
to learn that the masses of the elementary particles must also be very carefully
specified relative to each other and also to the forces in nature. For example,
Stephen Hawking (1980) has noted that the difference in the mass of the neutron
and the mass of the proton must be approximately equal to twice the mass of
the electron. The mass- energy of the proton is 938.28MeV, the mass-energy of
the electron is 0.51MeV and the neutron weighs in at 939.57 MeV. If the mass-energy
of the proton plus the mass-energy of the electron were not slight smaller than
the mass-energy of the neutron, then electrons would combine with protons to
form neutrons, with all atomic structure collapsing, leaving a world of neutron
only. If this difference were much larger, then neutrons would all decay into
protons and electrons, leaving a world of hydrogen only, since neutrons are
necessary to allow protons to combine to build up heavier nuclei and the associated
elements. As things are, the neutron is just heavy enough to ensure that the
big-bang yields one neutron to every seven protons, allowing for an abundant
supply of hydrogen for star fuel and enough neutrons to build up the heavier
elements in the universe. Again, the precise relative values for the masses of these
elementary particles are seen to be critical to provide a universe with long-term
sources of energy and elemental diversity.

Examples of other essential relationships for the masses of elementary particles
to permit the formation of heavier elements in nature have been provided by
Brandon Carter (1970) as follows: the strong force must be related to the mass
of the neutron and the mass of the pion by (alpha-S)2 ~ 2 (neutron mass/pion
mass); the electromagnetic fine structure constant (alpha-E) ~ [(neutron mass)
– (proton mass)] / (pion mass); and the strong force fine structure must obey
(alpha-S)2 ~ 1 / (9 alpha-E). Table 2 may be used to show that each of these requirements
is indeed satisfied. It is remarkable that these relationships are all satisfied,
despite the fact that these masses and forces appear to be independent in their
assignment and not causally connected. Additional requirements could also be stated
for h, k, c, and other constants.

We will conclude this section of cosmological coincidences by allowing several
distinguished scientists give their significant to the observations summarized
above. For example, Freeman J. Dyson says,

?"As we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics
and astronomy that have worked to our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe
must in some sense have known that we were coming."

Nobel laureate Arno Penzias makes this observation about the enigmatic character
of the universe,

?"Astronomy leads us to an unique event, a universe which was created out of
nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to
support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations
of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural

Sir Fred Hoyle, famous British astronomer who early on (1951) argued that the
coincidences were just that, coincidences, by 1984 had changed his mind, as
is evident from this quotation:

"Such properties seem to run through the fabric of the natural world like a
thread of happy coincidences. But there are so many odd coincidences essential
to life that some explanation seems required to account for them."

The Remarkable Requirements for Initial Conditions

?The specific mathematical form that nature takes and the highly specific values
of the various universal constants and masses of elementary particles alone
cannot account for our habitat and for life. All of this could have been done
in the elegant way that it has been done, as described above, and life would
still not have occurred if the boundary conditions at certain critical points
had not been properly set. In this section, the initial conditions for the big
bang will be discussed. A similar problem for the origin of life and possibly for the
Cambrian explosion also exist, but the discussion of these will be left to more
detailed articles elsewhere in this special edition.

?The fundamental boundary value (or initial condition) problem with the big
bang is the criticality of the initial velocity. If this velocity is to fast,
the matter in the universe expands too quickly and never coalesces into planets,
stars, and galaxies. If the initial velocity is too slow, the universe expands only for
a short time and then quickly collapses under the influence of gravity. Well-accepted
cosmological models tell us that the initial velocity must be specified to a
precision of 1 / 1055. This requirement seems to overwhelm chance and has been
the impetus for creative alternatives, most recently the new inflationary model
of the big bang. However, inflation itself seems to require fine-tuning for
it to occur at all and for it to yield irregularities neither to small nor to large
for galaxies to form. Early on it was estimated that two components of an expansion-driving
cosmological constant must cancel each other with an accuracy better than 1
part in 1050. More recently in Scientific American (January 1999), the required accuracy
is stated to be 1 part in 10123. Furthermore, the ratio of the gravitational
energy to the kinetic energy must equal to 1.00000 with a variation of 1 part
in 100,000. This is an active area of research at the moment and these values may
change over time. However, it appears that the essential requirements of very
highly specified boundary conditions will be present in whatever model is finally
confirmed for the big bang origin of the universe.


?My initial example of design was a very simple one involving one physical law,
one universal constant, and two initial conditions which could be prescribed
in such a way that my water balloon would arrive on the plaza of the Leaning
Tower of Pisa just in time to hit my strolling friend. This is a relatively easy < br> design problem. However, for the universe to have stars which generate elemental
diversity, provide long-term sources of energy of a suitable wavelength of radiation
to facilitate chemical reactions, and satisfy many other requirements for a suitable
habitat for life and for the origin of life, the mathematical form of the laws
of nature, the 19 universal constants (not all of which are listed in Table
2), and many initial conditions have to be "JUST SO". Many of these requirements
are interrelated. For example, the initial velocity requirement is related to
the strength of the gravity force. There are so many different requirements
that are interrelated, it seem difficult to imagine how all of these "accidentall
y" happened to be exactly what they need to be. Because of the many cross constraints,
it appears unlikely that there is an alternative set of values for these constants
which would "work". Furthermore, the necessary values range over thirty orders
of magnitude (1030), making their accidentally correct "selection" all the more
remarkable. It is quite easy to understand why so many scientists have changed
their minds in the past 30 years, agreeing that it takes a great deal of faith
to believe the universe can be explained as nothing more than a fortuitous cosmic
accident. Evidence for an intelligent designer becomes more compelling the more
we understand about our carefully crafted habitat.

Copyright ? 1999 by Walter L. Bradley. All rights reserved.

About the author: Walter Bradley received his Ph.D. in materials science from
the University of Texas at Austin. After eight years at the Colorado School
of Mines, he came to Texas A&M University where he is currently a professor
and Senior TEES Research Fellow in the department of mechanical engineering.
He has received two teaching awards, one national and five local research awards,
and from 1989-1993 served as the head of the department. He has received over
$3,000,000 in research grants and contracts resulting in the publication of 80+ technical
articles. He has been honored for his technical contributions by being elected
a Fellow of the American Society for Materials. He and his wife, Ann, have two
grown children.

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