Large Numbers Are Funny. That’s Why.
This, according to Scott Funkhouser (quoted in Nature), is what the answer to life, the universe and everything could look like:
Or something like it, because I’m not exactly sure what 10122 should look like. I’m not sure who Scott Funkhouser is either, as the article doesn’t make it clear. Could be a physicist, could be some guy the author of the article met in a park while eating his lunch one afternoon. What I do know is that Scott Funkhouser is from the Military College of South Carolina, which might be great, but doesn’t really shout “Princeton” or “Caltech” or “MIT”.
It is remarkable enough that the parameters of nature should somehow produce one large-number coincidence. For the same basic set of parameters to produce two large-number coincidence problems is essentially preposterous — unless the two problems are related.
No, coincidences aren’t really remarkable when you start working backwards from the coincidence itself. Take any coincidence you like, work backwards, and what do you have? Well, a coincidence. Plus some causes. Use fuzzy logic to hop and skip over the separate chains of events which led up to the coincidence, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find some matches. Remarkable? If there were no patterns discernible in something as big as the universe, that would be remarkable.
Still, a thoroughly enjoyable article. Because large numbers are funny.
[Update: thanks to Scott for a link to the actual paper, entitled A New Large-Number Coincidence and a Scaling Law for the Cosmological Constant.]