For some time now, it has been known that our life-friendly cosmos depends on the delicate balancing of a host of universal constants: Newton’s gravitational constant, the mass and charge of the electron, and the strengths of the weak and strong nuclear forces, just to name a few. If the value for any one of these constants was slightly different, questions about the universe couldn’t be asked—intelligence, and biological life itself, would have never come about. And that makes scientists edgy, because conditions that depend on fine-turning suggest something of a “set-up” job. Take the late Sir Fred Hoyle, for example.
Hoyle, a mathematician and astronomer, confessed that his atheism was shaken by research into the carbon atom. After realizing that the energy levels of carbon were precisely those required for carbon-based life, Hoyle remarked, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics.”