# Could life forms such as ours, sentient beings, survive if laws of physics were variable?

#### Michael 345

##### New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl
Valued Senior Member
Stating the obvious it would depend on which laws and by how much. I'm going to lay out a speculation for consideration

I'm going to pick

1/ Speed of light = 1,000,000,000 km per hour
Have fun by varying speed by half or doubling

2/ Mass or, perhaps more importantly, the effect of mass ie the amount of mass (number of atoms remains same) but effect of the mass halves or doubles

The sentient beings have no explanation for the variations of their physics since there is no linkage between the variations and no pattern in the appearance of the variations

What effects might (could) be expected with such variations?

Happy to answer any questions but like to hear other persons thoughts

Stating the obvious it would depend on which laws and by how much. I'm going to lay out a speculation for consideration

I'm going to pick

1/ Speed of light = 1,000,000,000 km per hour
Have fun by varying speed by half or doubling

2/ Mass or, perhaps more importantly, the effect of mass ie the amount of mass (number of atoms remains same) but effect of the mass halves or doubles

The sentient beings have no explanation for the variations of their physics since there is no linkage between the variations and no pattern in the appearance of the variations

What effects might (could) be expected with such variations?

Happy to answer any questions but like to hear other persons thoughts
Do you really mean variable, i.e. not constant over time? Or do you just mean what effect it would have if the values were different from what they actually are?

What effects might (could) be expected with such variations?
It would no longer be possible to represent it symbolically with human mathematics.

What is the best definition of mathematics?

mathematics, the science of structure, order, and relation that has evolved from elemental practices of counting, measuring, and describing the shapes of objects.
It deals with logical reasoning and quantitative calculation, and its development has involved an increasing degree of idealization and abstraction of its subject matter. Since the 17th century, mathematics has been an indispensable adjunct to the physical sciences and technology, and in more recent times it has assumed a similar role in the quantitative aspects of the life sciences.
https://www.britannica.com/science/mathematics

Stating the obvious it would depend on which laws and by how much. I'm going to lay out a speculation for consideration
Speed of light - if it changed to a very small degree, exactly how it changed would be important. Would all photons gain energy (i.e. become shorter wavelengths) as they slowed? Would you see transient Cerenkov radiation from the slowing?

Mass - can't really 'change mass.' That's not just one thing. Do you mean change the gravitational constant? If so, again, how you changed it would matter. The Solar System would become unstable if you changed it more than a very small amount.

Could we expectthe following evolutionary processes? I doubt it.

'The laws of physics are variable' is a faulty premise.

Laws of physics are nothing more than descriptions of what we see in reality.

If they varied, then our laws of physics would be different - notably, our laws would include those variations.

After all:
- once, time and space were observably immutable and absolute. Our laws of physics (observation) told us that. Then we found out both time and space are mutable and vary constantly. Life did not end.
- gravity is not constant. We thought it was once upon a time. Turns out, the father up we go the less strong it is. Our modern law of gravity describes how gravitational force varies with altitude. Life did not end.
- atoms are not hard little billiard balls. Turns out the repulsion of atoms varies with distance from the electron shell. Life did not end.

Do you really mean variable, i.e. not constant over time? Or do you just mean what effect it would have if the values were different from what they actually are?

I mean variable. One moment speed is 1,000,000,000 km per hour next 500,000,000 km per hour OR 2,000,000,000 per hour

Speed of light - if it changed to a very small degree, exactly how it changed would be important. Would all photons gain energy (i.e. become shorter wavelengths) as they slowed? Would you see transient Cerenkov radiation from the slowing?

Mass - can't really 'change mass.' That's not just one thing. Do you mean change the gravitational constant? If so, again, how you changed it would matter. The Solar System would become unstable if you changed it more than a very small amount.

Do you mean change the gravitational constant?

That's more accurate yes. One moment it might double or half

The whole system would change not just a single planet

Part of my musing comes from the multiverse idea, other Universes out there with different physics and part from the fine tuned Universe idea

I mean variable. One moment speed is 1,000,000,000 km per hour next 500,000,000 km per hour OR 2,000,000,000 per hour

Do you mean change the gravitational constant?

That's more accurate yes. One moment it might double or half

The whole system would change not just a single planet

Part of my musing comes from the multiverse idea, other Universes out there with different physics and part from the fine tuned Universe idea

If gravitation were to vary, then stars would either blow up or go out, and life would not form. If the speed of light were to change, it would screw around with the wavelength of light and photosynthesis would not be able to evolve.

It would no longer be possible to represent it symbolically with human mathematics.

What is the best definition of mathematics?
So Max Shapiro/Tegmark would be out of a job. Oh dear. How Sad. Never mind.

So Max Shapiro/Tegmark would be out of a job. Oh dear. How Sad. Never mind.
I would dare say that all of science would be out of a job......

It would no longer be possible to represent it symbolically with human mathematics.
Whaaat? So mathematics can't describe change over time? (delta t vanishes in a puff of logic.)

Could life forms such as ours, sentient beings, survive if laws of physics were variable?

Ideally, it would be good to know the range of life forms that are possible in this universe under inhospitable conditions -- though that's probably knowledge that only posthumans could survive long enough to have a glimmer of (not us). If perchance there is no non-simple life elsewhere, then at first glance that would seem to all the more not bode well for rickety universes with disparaged parameters.

But it remains to be seen that even this supposed "delicately adjusted" universe really is profusely conducive to complex life arising and surviving in a variety of familiar and exotic circumstances. (And that's as in prior to adaptive technology and interstellar migration via the self-replicating machines and synthetic organisms of an advanced civilization interfering with the situation.)

We've had decades of numerous Sci Temple oracles divining on paper and computer that elaborate biological creatures are so thick in the Milky Way that you can't help but trip over them. Yet no examples to speak of.

Beyond one lonely orb with the chance convergence of a large Moon, plate tectonics, stable yellow sun, an oddball planetary system configuration, a rural location from violent events in the galactic interior, fortuitous evolutionary triggers, an atmosphere lacking the super-pressurization of similar-sized Venus's, etc.

Which is to say, this "paragon" cosmos of ours might instead be the bottom of the barrel when it comes to an assumed range of variables qualifying for a fine-tuned universe category. Heck, on the extreme side, vastly older or even more disorganized and poorly regulated realms could be the types abundant with wild fluctuations that are cranking out solipsistic Boltzmann brain like entities in extravagant quantities. Where such brute abiogenesis would render obsolete the incremental developments of processes transpiring over thousands, millions and billions of years.

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If gravitation were to vary, then stars would either blow up or go out, and life would not form. If the speed of light were to change, it would screw around with the wavelength of light and photosynthesis would not be able to evolve.

Being a thought experiment I have already indicated sentient beings do exist in this Universe. Perhaps the cause (unknown) of the change in speed of light prevents also prevents catastrophes happening

Remember it is NOT our Universe or our laws of physics changing. This is another Universe. If photosynthesis did / does not evolve, is there something else with in this different Universe which does evolve in its place?

Being a thought experiment I have already indicated sentient beings do exist in this Universe. Perhaps the cause (unknown) of the change in speed of light prevents also prevents catastrophes happening

Remember it is NOT our Universe or our laws of physics changing. This is another Universe. If photosynthesis did / does not evolve, is there something else with in this different Universe which does evolve in its place?

Well, you make it rather a "how long is a piece of string?" question.

The basic point I think is that for life, varying physics would make chemistry itself doubtful and evolution practically impossible. And that is aside from the issue of whether stars would form and remain intact long enough to provide conditions amenable to life.

So if you make it a condition that gravitation and the speed of light are variable AND that there are nonetheless sentient beings, then you're on your own.

We'll find out soon enough if we can survive just a minor deviation (+3C) in climate conditions, let alone different mathematics, if that is even logically possible.

On the question of what would happen if the constants of physics were different from what they actual are, the answer is: it depends.

We can imagine universes where the fundamental constants differ by a lot from their current values. For example, we could make the gravitational constant 1000 times greater than it is, or 1000 times smaller than it is, say. Or a million times. Or a billions times. At one extreme, all matter in the universe would immediate collapse into black holes and there could be no life. At the other extreme, matter would not clump together, so it would be impossible to form things like stars and planets, and again there would be no life. The situation is similar for lots of other fundamental constants; changing any of them sufficiently would probably resutl in a universe unable to support life, for one reason or another.

On the other hand, though, we could imagine the constants being allowed to vary a little from their current values, and that's a different ball game. So called "fine-tuning" arguments assert that if we adjusted just one of the constants by X amount then life would be impossible, so therefore God must have fine-tuned all of the constants to have just the right values to make life peachy for us human beings here on Earth. But the people who make that argument tend to forget that there are lots of different constants to adjust, and we don't necessarily need to adjust just one of them by itself.

If we allow the constants to vary in the right way - make gravity a little strong, make the speed of light a little smaller, make Planck's constant a little smaller, make the fine structure constant a bit bigger, etc. etc. - then probably we can "invent" lots of universes theoretically capable of supporting life. Those universes, with their different constants, will be different from our own, as will the life that lives in them, but there's no reason to suppose that something like life-as-we-know-it couldn't happily exist in them.

To summarise, there's most likely a reasonable volume of the available fundamental constant "phase space" in which the constants can be allowed to wander around and still give us a liveable universe. If that's true, then it would be wrong to say that our universe is especially "fine tuned" for life. Our universe just happens to be one of the many kinds of universes where life is possible.

To summarise, there's most likely a reasonable volume of the available fundamental constant "phase space" in which the constants can be allowed to wander around and still give us a liveable universe.

I was sort of hoping for a sort of response along the lines of how would a bunch of scientists react

With 3 different speeds of light, for example, would there be a group advocating the slowest should be the normal, a group for the middle range, a group for the fastest and a group saying all 3 speeds are our normal and we must look for the cause of the changes

Since the changes are haphazard I'm guessing experiments need to be set up to detect a wide range of possible causes

While I agree numerous, in this Universe, Laws of Physics can (might have) other values in other Universes I suspect that one set applies to all

Mundane and predictable

While I agree numerous, in this Universe, Laws of Physics can (might have) other values in other Universes I suspect that one set applies to all
Is that the proper way of posing the question?

We can also look at this from the perspective that it is not the all of the Universe that is fine-tuned for life, but that life is fine-tuned to some of the Universe.

The fact is that the range of conditions "hospitable" for life is pretty large. Life occurs at the bottom of oceans near black smokers, in volcanic sulphur pools, in polar ice packs, in deserts, thousands of feet deep in the earth's crust, thousands of feet high in the mountains, in the air itself.

Bio-chemistry already occurs in stellar clouds.

How are stellar clouds formed?
Stars form from an accumulation of gas and dust, which collapses due to gravity and starts to form stars. The process of star formation takes around a million years from the time the initial gas cloud starts to collapse until the star is created and shines like the Sun. Jul 4, 2019

Unexpected chemicals detected in interstellar clouds
File: Diving into the Lagoon Nebula.ogv
View inside the Lagoon Nebula.
Until recently the rates of reactions in interstellar clouds were expected to be very slow, with minimal products being produced due to the low temperature and density of the clouds. However, organic molecules were observed in the spectra that scientists would not have expected to find under these conditions, such as formaldehyde, methanol, and vinyl alcohol. The reactions needed to create such substances are familiar to scientists only at the much higher temperatures and pressures of earth and earth-based laboratories. The fact that they were found indicates that these chemical reactions in interstellar clouds take place faster than suspected, likely in gas-phase reactions unfamiliar to organic chemistry as observed on earth.[3] These reactions are studied in the CRESU experiment.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_cloud

I would trust Hazen when he proposes that life may not necessarily depend on fine-tuned planetary conditions but on the availability of the raw chemicals that make up life.

Ask Louis Alamandola, NASA
As I speak of Alamandola, I become infected with enthusiasm like a journalist from Leidse Courant. They discovered that life is possible in space! Alamandola spreads his arms and gestures to me to calm down. “Ha-ha, Lucas,” he says, “nobody knows what life is. For her, there are about 500 different definitions. What we have found is irrelevant to life itself. We found only building blocks; how a living organism results from them is a completely different matter. ”

, one of the closest stars to the Earth. The oval is its light reflected from the ring of cosmic dust. Dust remains from comets and other space debris, randomly flying around. Every day, thousands of objects collide, break into small pieces and generate cosmic dust full of water and organic molecules. Large and small fragments eventually end up on the surface of young planets orbiting a young star. Fomalhaut's comet rain shows us how a late heavy bombardment could look.
Earth, most likely, began its development in the form of a hot ball of molten stone. About 4 billion years ago it cooled down sufficiently so that life began to appear on it. The oldest minerals found on Earth are bacteria that appeared around that time. Experiments with ice have shown that we can find in space and the basic materials necessary for these organisms. Could these molecules through the cosmic postal service to get to Earth after it cooled down? Panspermia , the hypothesis that life on Earth came from space, began to turn into an interesting possibility.
https://geeks-world.imtqy.com/articles/409321/index.html

What are the Ingredients of Life?
By Natalie Wolchover February 02, 2011
From the mightiest blue whale to the most miniscule paramecium, life as we know it takes dramatically different forms. Nonetheless, all organisms are built from the same six essential elemental ingredients: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur (CHNOPS). Feb 2, 2011
https://www.livescience.com/32983-what-are-ingredients-life.html#

I was sort of hoping for a sort of response along the lines of how would a bunch of scientists react
Most likely, by dying - went their component atoms went flying apart at the speed of light.

There is one organism that would do just fine under drastically varying conditions.
The Tardigrade may well come from space where natural selection prepared it with the ability to survive a variety of extreme conditions.

Diane Nelson, a tardigrade researcher who works in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, used a scanning microscope to take this 3-D image of a tardigrade.(Image credit: NPS/Diane Nelson)

WHERE DO TARDIGRADES LIVE?
As their name implies, water bears live just about anywhere there's liquid water, inhabiting the ocean, freshwater lakes and rivers, and the water film that coats terrestrial mosses and lichens. They can survive a wide range of environments: from altitudes of over 19,600 feet (6,000 meters) in the Himalayan mountain range to ocean depths more than 15,000 feet (4,700 m) below the surface, according to the University of Michigan's Animal Diversity Web (ADW).
Not all tardigrades live in extreme environments, but water bears are known for surviving extreme conditions that would kill most other forms of life, by transforming into a dehydrated ball known as a tun.
Researchers have found that tardigrades in a tun state can withstand temperatures as low as minus 328 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 200 degrees Celsius) and hotter than 300 degrees F (148.9 C), Smithsonian magazine reported. They can also survive exposure to radiation, boiling liquids, and up to six times the pressure of the deepest part of the ocean, according to the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College in Minnesota. A 2008 study published in the journal Current Biology revealed that some species of tardigrades — when dehydrated — could weather a 10-day trip into low-Earth orbit, and return to Earth unharmed by solar ultraviolet radiation and the vacuum of space.
More recently, desiccated tardigrades have been shot from a high-speed gun, traveling nearly 3,000 feet per second (900 meters per second) and surviving a crushing impact of about 1.14 gigapascals of pressure. Their survival hinted at the possibility that several thousands of tun-state tardigrades that were carried on the Israeli lunar mission Beresheet may have survived after the lander crashed on the moon, on April 11, 2019.
https://www.livescience.com/57985-tardigrade-facts.html

This is distinctly different from "extremophiles" which are adapted to specific extreme conditions and die immediately when conditions change.

Example; Ice worms melt when exposed to above freezing temperatures.
Ice worms are so well adapted to the freezing conditions that they cannot live anywhere else. Exposing them to even 5 degrees above freezing and their internal membranes start to fall apart causing the whole worm to liquefy and essentially melt. Jun 28, 2014
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/lab-rat/arctic-creepy-crawlies-part-i-the-ice-worms/#