cover image Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life

Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life

Paul Davies, . . Houghton Mifflin, $26 (315pp) ISBN 978-0-618-59226-5

With an articulate blend of science, metaphysics and philosophy—and a dash of religion—physicist and cosmologist Davies discusses the implications of the fact that the conditions of our universe are "just right" for life to exist: a concept known as the anthropic principle. Had any of the universe's physical laws or constants been just a bit different, life as we know it would have been impossible. In attempting to explain why this is so, Davies summarizes the current state of knowledge in cosmology and provides an accessible introduction to particle physics. He evaluates numerous explanations for the structure of our universe, such as the possibility that ours is but one of an infinite number of "multiverses," and examines the question that inevitably arises in discussing the anthropic principle: does the design of the universe imply the existence of an intelligent designer? Davis's own feeling is that there is likely some sort of still undefined "life principle" in the cosmos but recognizes that this "is something I feel more in my heart than in my head." While there is much of interest, readers of Davies's earlier book The Mind of God will be familiar with a good deal of what is presented. 35 b&w illus. (Apr. 11)