Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cosmic Background Radiation

By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like a dot; by thought I encompass the universe.”
(Pascal, Pensées No. 265)

“THE STORY of the 3ocosmic background radiation is well known through able popularizations. Possibly the best of them has as title, "The First Three Minutes," a first-rate misnomer. It can easily create the impression that science can specify the first moment of physical interactions, let alone the very moment of creation. It is also misleading because it draws attention away from what should seem to be most significant in the 3oradiation. That radiation is a supreme evidence that speculations about the primordial structuring of the universe are on the right track in more than one sense. No track could be straighter, narrower, more specific, or, from the point of view of man, more consequential. The track leads to a primordial condition of the universe which can be told in a few lines, almost in a few words, illustrating the stunning power of the mind to conquer the universe. That it takes only a few words stands to reason. The more specific an entity is, the fewer words it takes to identify it. The identity tag for the universe in its primordial state need not contain more than the following data: one proton, one neutron, and one electron for every 100 million photons, and the whole conglomerate at a temperature of about a hundred billion degrees. Such are the necessary parameters for the genesis of all chemical elements forming the actual universe. Had any of those parameters been different, however slightly, the formation of the actual set of elements could not have taken place, the universe would not be what it is, and we humans could not be part of it as our physical make-up is based on that very same set. ... Such is the background to the emergence in modern cosmology of the so-called anthropic principle. . . .”

~Stanley L. Jaki: Angels, Apes, & Men, Chap. III. 
(Sherwood, Sugden & Co. 1983)