Re: The Next Century's Great Discovery

Anders Sandberg (
Wed, 30 Jul 1997 18:01:58 +0200 (MET DST)

On Tue, 29 Jul 1997, Hal Finney wrote:

> I'm not sure how fundamental the question is about whether there is only
> a finite number of possible "islands". Given that we are dealing with
> a parameter space where the parameters are real numbers, even a single
> tiny island may admit an infinite number of possible sets of parameters.
> Would there be some inherent quantization of parameters such that
> changing the mass of an electron by a sufficiently small amount would
> make literally zero difference?

Some parameters may be discrete - the number of dimensions, the
number of quark families etc. And you are right, some parameters
might be "stable"; this is essentially Tegmark's idea to test his
hypothesis: if we live in such an island, the only stable parameters
are those parameters which don't remove the possibility of life, the
cruicial parameters are unstable.

> It also seems possible (despite what I said earlier) that only a limited
> range of possible parameter values will admit life. Maybe the mass
> of the electron could be large enough that there are no atoms, and we
> could still have life in other forms, but could it be infinitely large?

I think they could, but it is likely that nothing new will appear
after a while as they grow larger. I might be wrong.

> Could all parameters increase without limit? Seemingly the only way
> there could be an infinite number of islands would be if the set of
> legal parameters included (virtually) infinite values.

Or were real numbers; one could have something like a Cantor dust of
islands in the parameter space.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y