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48 49 the evoLvinG BioCosm and the cosmological anthropic principle The more we study the universe the stranger one single fact becomes. It turns out that not just the Earth, but our entire universe is nearly ideally suited to biological life. The physical constants that underlie the structure of space and matter are incredibly finely tuned to maximise the likelihood of fish, trees and things like us see examples opposite. If any of the constants were different, often by a small degree, no life could exist in the universe. The conundrum, called the Cosmological Anthropic Principle, is one of the oddest products of modern big bang cosmology. There are really only three answers to the problem. The first states that the tuning is a meaningless coincidence, the second holds that this must be just one of millions of universes the one where things work out for life, and the third asserts that there must be a reason. In 2003 James Gardner advanced a novel reason. He suggested that the beautiful finetuning we observe and spring from could be a kind of structural gene, passed on to a child universe from a parent or parents. Consciousness, life and its host forms could keep evolving to the point where an entire universe becomes a superorganism. This could then design or pass on a tuned set of constants to newly big bangborn biocosms, guaranteeing them the best chance in life, as all organisms do for their children. Quite what Darwin would have made of such a concept we can only guess at. But he might have been quietly pleased to see his theory remaining fit for purpose, adapting to the changing environment, and extending its reach to the possible variable, heritable and selectable nature of entire universes.
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