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No. 8: Fall 1979

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Due to a fortunate coincidence you can read about a fortunate coincidence

There are embedded in the fabric of our universe a number of curious coincidences among the so-called physical constants. Two amusing examples are:

  1. The size of a planet is roughly the geometric mean of the size of the universe and the size of the atom; and
  2. The mass of man is the geometric mean of the mass of a planet and the mass of the proton.

Less hilarious is the observation that the age of the universe is of the order of the quotient of the electron time scale and the gravitational fine structure constant; and that only at the present time are physical conditions in the universe favorable to the existence of life-as-we-know-it!

The surprising number of coincidences that have been identified suggests that we exist and are aware of the universe around us only when certain coincidences prevail among physical constants. Is "now" a magic moment in the history of the universe during which we have "happened" as a natural coincidence of blindly drifting physical constants, or did some metaphysical force tune the universe specially for us? This long, rather mathematical article is redolent with metaphysics and mystery.

(Carr, B.J., and Rees, M.J.; "The Anthropic Principle and the Structure of the Physical World," Nature, 278:605, 1979.)

Comment. One might speculate that at other times different coincidences prevail that would permit life-as-we-do-not-know-it or something equally unimaginable!

From Science Frontiers #8, Fall 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987