August 24, 2004

Smolin Vs. Susskind on the anthropic principle

The Edge has posted a great debate between two giants in cosmology, Lee Smolin and Leonard Susskind. Smolin is the developer of the idea that the Universe's traits are the result of Darwinian pressures, while Susskind has done pioneering work in string theory. The two men greatly respect each other, but when it comes to the application of the anthropic principle in their methodologies, that's where the two diverge.

Smolin argues that the "Anthropic Principle (AP) cannot yield any falsifiable predictions, and therefore cannot be a part of science". Susskind, on the otherhand, likes the AP, and counterargues that Smolin's brand of cosmology actually leads to absurd conclusions about what the Universe should look like.

Their arguments are for an advanced audience, but the article is still quite readable. They often get into circular arguments, with Smolin often sounding like he's really only interested in defending his theory.

I give Susskind the edge in this fab Edge debate.

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