It is often asserted that the Universe is “Fine-tuned” for life, that if this or that constant was altered even a little bit the Universe would have been completely lifeless. Now the arguments for and against this particular argument are many and varied, I personally don’t see the Universe as being particularly hospitable to life. I mean our proclaiming that everything is just right for our existence and isn’t that amazing is like a flea looking at the dog flesh all around him and saying the Universe is perfect for fleas. The same as the flea we are restricted to a small part of the surface of the Earth, if we venture further out it is almost like the Universe is actively trying to kill us. Most other places have drawbacks of wild extremes from the crushing pressure and gravity of gas giants to the asphyxiating vacuum of interstellar space. Everywhere we look there is either killing cold or killing heat, cosmic rays, tearing gravity or no gravity. So maybe the Universe isn’t perfect for us after all.

Into this chaos steps Lee Smolin, Theoretical Physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics Lee has proposed that the Universe isn’t tuned for life at all, it’s just a by-product of the Universe being tuned for the creation of Black Holes. Lee’s ideas, sometimes referred to as the Fecund Universes theory essentially propose that black holes are a universes’ way of producing offspring, baby universes if you will. Key to this idea is that black holes when formed do not simply collapse the matter that went into their creation into a singularity, or dimensionless point of infinite density, but actually tunnel into a new region of space time creating a big bang in that region and producing a new universe. In this view then the physical constants of our Universe need not be predetermined and may alter slightly in each new universe. If this is the case those universes that tend to create more black holes and will eventually come to dominate the “multiverse”.

In our Universe the conditions required to create black holes also fortunately make the Universe also more likely to harbour life. Black Holes require stars of a certain size and density, as do we. In order to create these stars a first round of star formation needs to occur in order to “seed” the interstellar medium with elements higher in mass than Hydrogen and Helium. These elements are also useful for creating life out of coincidentally enough. Is this view correct? Who knows, we’ll probably never be able to tell, but it’s fun to think about.