Life in a Random Universe: Sciamaʼs Argument Reconsidered

Zhi-Wei Wang*, Samuel Leon Braunstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Random sampling in high dimensions has successfully been applied to phenomena as diverse as nuclear resonances, neural networks, and black hole evaporation. Here we revisit an elegant argument by the British physicist Dennis Sciama, who demonstrated that were our Universe random, it would almost certainly have a negligible chance for life. Under plausible assumptions, we show that a random universe can masquerade as “intelligently designed,” with the fundamental constants instead appearing to be fined tuned to achieve the highest probability for life to occur. For our Universe, this mechanism may only require there to be around a dozen currently unknown fundamental constants. We speculate on broader applications for the mechanism we uncover.
Original languageEnglish
Article number55
Number of pages8
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024. The Author(s).


  • Anthropic principle
  • Cosmology
  • Astrobiology
  • Search for extraterrestrial intelligence

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