Coffee@Beyond with Fred Adams


  September 30, 2019 | 3 p.m.

  Biodesign Institute


“Is Our Universe a Botched Job?: Designing a Better Version”


The idea that we live in the best of all possible worlds has a long tradition in philosophy. What does science have to say on the matter? Bitter controversy surrounds the claim that the universe is rigged in favor of life - that the laws of nature are ‘fine-tuned’ for biology. However, in spite of nature’s bio-friendliness, the universe is not in fact optimized for life. I shall show using simple models how basic physics  could be tweaked to make the cosmos even more congenial for thinking beings like us, raising the curious question: Why are we living in a botched universe? 


Born in Redwood City, Fred Adams received his PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, he joined the Physics Faculty at the University of Michigan in 1991. He was promoted to Full Professor in 2001, elected to the Michigan Society of Fellows in 2007, and named as the Ta-you Wu Collegiate Professor of Physics in 2014. He received the Robert J. Trumpler Award from the ASP, the NSF Young Investigator

Award, the Helen B. Warner Prize from the AAS, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. Professor Adams works in theoretical astrophysics with a focus on studies of star formation and cosmology. He is internationally recognized for his work on the radiative signature of the star formation process, the dynamics of circumstellar disks, a theory for the stellar initial mass function, and studies of extra-solar planetary systems. In cosmology, he has studied the inflationary universe, cosmological phase transitions, magnetic monopoles, and cosmic background radiation fields. His work in cosmology also includes explorations into the long term fate and evolution of the universe, as well as fine-tuning issues.