Why Are the Laws of Nature What They Are?
Lee Smolin posits the idea that new universes are born from parent universes through the mechanism of black holes.
To call Lee Smolin a maverick is an understatement. Smolin believes that science progresses through disagreement, not by following consensus. He argued to that effect in his 2006 book The Trouble with Physics. The New York Times has described the work of this theoretical physicist as "fabulously ambitious and fabulously speculative."
What's the Big Idea?
As Smolin tells Big Think, physics is about discovering what the laws of nature are. For instance, Smolin asks why is the mass of an electron what it is and not 12 times larger or half the size?
To answer questions like this, Smolin adapts what he describes as "the only methodology that was really successful for explaining how choices were made in nature," and that is natural selection. From there Smolin posits the idea that new universes are born from parent universes through the mechanism of Black Holes.
And so, following Darwinian logic, and through mathematical simulations, Smolin makes the prediction, or observation, that universes should be fine-tuned to maximize the production of hundreds of trillions of Black Holes.
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Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?
- "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
- The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
- Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
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