Q: Why is mathematics so unreasonably effective in the natural sciences?

A: Because if the universe weren’t regular enough to be effectively described by simple mathematical laws (at least to good approximation), it wouldn’t be regular enough for life to have developed within it.

Sketch of a proof: What does it even mean for a universe to be so ‘irregular’ as to be undescribable (to approximation) by simple mathematical laws? It would have to be something like “No coarse-grained description of any portion of the universe is, in general, informative in giving a coarse-grained description of any other portion, nor of the same portion at another time”. This in turn would rule out the possibility of stable structures emerging (since they would stand as counter-examples to the above statement), and so no life could develop.

Of course, as stated this doesn’t put any tight bounds on *how* effective mathematics would have to be, merely that it can’t be *completely* ineffective. Producing such a tight bound is left as an exercise for the reader!

(Truth be known, the earth was destroyed by grey goo billions of years ago. We call the destroyers ‘bacteria’.)

]]>Living organisms must predict outcomes of physical processes for their survival. The prediction process must in some sense be simpler than the predicted one. (For example, it has to finish faster.) The simpler the prediction process, the higher the chance that a simple evolving organism can find it and use it to its advantage. So Universes with effective prediction processes have an advantage in harboring life. This should explain that building simple models is so successful in making predictions in our Universe.

Daniel

]]>Let:

P = “I think.”

Q = “I exist.”

R = “The universe exists (in a certain configuration).”

S = “Fill-in-the-blank exists.”

Then:

P => Q, by Descartes’ dictum.

Q => R, by the anthropic principle.

R => S, by general agreement.

Therefore, if I stop thinking, fill-in-the-blank will cease to exist by general agreement.

Q.E.D.

PMC

P.S. The potential commercial applications of this theorem have not escaped my notice.

]]>Anyone can play this game … a good starting point is the first entry from this list of classic koans:

—–

**Every Day Is an Anthropic Day**

Unmon said: *“I do not ask you about other universes, but about this universe. Come, say a word about this!”* Since none of the string theorists answered, he aked them: *“What is the day that is **not* an anthropic day?”

—–

Plus, as Dave Berry would say, “Anthropic Day” would be an outstanding name for a rock-and-roll band.

]]> **Anthropic Haiku-Koan #2**

*A frog’s jump …*

*the ancient pond*

*reassembles the frog*

Because those who didn’t were not fit enough to. ]]>

**The Anthropic Haiku-Koan**

*Had I not perceived it*

*with my own mind … *

*never would I have seen it.*