The Universe Is As Finely Tuned As A Symphony Orchestra
By Ronald H. Brady
Frank Sinatra, according to his biographers, seldom played his own recordings while entertaining at his home. Instead he more often played his favorite classical recordings. Actually many of the arrangements for Sinatra’s music prominently featured the string section: the mainstay of the symphony orchestra.
What does all of this have to do with a finely tuned Universe? Many cosmologists believe that if any of the, 26 or so, fundamental physical constants had been only slightly different from their actual values then the formation of the Universe as we know it would have been virtually impossible.
Therefore, in the opinion of many astrophysicists, the original fine tuning of the fundamental physical constants made it likely that the Universe as we know it would eventually form and lead to the evolution of life on earth. And ultimately this fine tuning would make it possible for mankind, among many other things, to fine tune the instruments of symphony orchestras so that they would be able to perform the finely crafted symphonies of Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler and others.
I once accidentally witnessed the consequences of the fine tuning of the laws of mathematical physics in connection with music (arguably the noblest of all of the art forms). It was a wintry day in the early sixties when most radios still had electron tubes. After a long day at high school I lay across the bed and turned on the radio. It was an old radio and the back cover had been removed and for some reason I turned it around so that I could watch the movement of the tuning condenser as I searched the radio dial for something interesting. The warmth of the radio in my hands brought a measure of relief from the cold that I had experienced outside.
The 60 Hertz AC hum was prominent and reminded me of the math of alternating current theory. And I contemplated on how fortunate we were that the governing equations of electromagnetism, Maxwell’s field equations, made it possible for the radio waves to be transmitted from the radio station antenna to the receiving antenna of my radio.
It was about this time, as I watched the glow of the filaments of the electron tubes, that I smelled the faint odor of the warming plastic of the radio casing. Then something utterly magical happed. The string section of an orchestra, following the musical dictation of a Nelson Riddle arrangement, majestically leaped toward the stratosphere as they provided part of the accompaniment for the silky smooth vocals of Frank Sinatra (in fine tune as always). The song was “Talk to me”, by E. Snyder, S. Kahan and R. Vallee,
“Talk to me, talk to me, talk to me
Your magical kiss can take me just so far
Talk to me, talk to me, talk to me Don't leave me like this dangling from a star”
For me, at that time and place, the juxtaposition of pleasant stimuli for all five of the senses in addition to my intellectual appreciation of the cleverness of the lyrics of the song was something that was very special. The lyrics were great, the music magnificent, the singing wondrous, the glow of the electrons in the tubes was fascinating, the heat of the radio helped to warm winter chilled hands and the faint smell of the plastic all combined to create a singular moment of awareness of the beauty and mystery of creation.
But this was just one episode of the virtually infinite space - time continuum that was made possible by a Universal Governing Equation. Many theoretical physicists imply the existence of such an equation by their search for the mathematical formulation of a THORY OF EVERYTHING.
So who do we thank for the wonders of an apparently very fined tuned Universe: the coincidence of the Big Bang or the Infinite Power and Intellect from which it evidently sprang?