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The Physics of Fine-Tuning

How fragile is our world? What physics led to the existence of life, and how likely --or unlikely-- were these conditions to come about? In this video series we assemble top researchers and approach this question for all angles, with a strong focus on the physics involved. Our talks accessibly discuss how the laws of physics, the initial conditions of the universe, and features of our local world work together to produce the sort of medium-scale world we live in, and assess how likely this world was to come about.

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 The New Era in Observational Cosmology In the fourth part of their discussion, Pedro Ferreira and Jerome Martin conjecture about the future of inflation. They talk about the potential for new evidence for and against the theory, and the variety of new probes into our cosmological environment. Pedro Ferreira, Jerome Martin 04 Apr 2017
2 When is a theory good enough? In the third part of their discussion, Pedro Ferreira and Jerome Martin talk about whether one should look for a deeper physical theory when one’s current theory is well-supported by observation. Pedro Ferreira, Jerome Martin 04 Apr 2017
3 Can we measure naturalness? In the second part of their discussion, Pedro Ferreira and Jerome Martin consider ways to build the naturalness of an inflationary model into our expectations for observing it. Pedro Ferreira, Jerome Martin 04 Apr 2017
4 An Encyclopedia of Inflation In the first part of their discussion, Pedro Ferreira and Jerome Martin talk about the variety of inflationary models. They discuss methods for distinguishing between them based on evidence and describe the application of Bayesian statistics to inflation. Pedro Ferreira, Jerome Martin 04 Apr 2017
5 Inflation in the Future What should we expect to learn in the future? In the fourth part of their chat, Dave Sloan and Robert Brandenberger talk about how we expect inflationary theory to develop, and how observations may lead to new physics in this area. David Sloan, Robert Brandenberger 04 Apr 2017
6 Strings, Inflation, and Alternatives In the third part of their discussion, Dave Sloan and Robert Brandenberger explain the relationship between string theory and inflationary models. Can inflation arise from particle physics, or do we need to look for alternative models? David Sloan, Robert Brandenberger 04 Apr 2017
7 Inflation Predicts In the second part of their discussion, Dave Sloan and Robert Brandenberger tell us what inflation predicts and whether inflation itself seems fine-tuned. This discussion was conducted at the University of Oxford on March 14, 2017. David Sloan, Robert Brandenberger 04 Apr 2017
8 Evidence For Inflation In the first part of their discussion, Dave Sloan and Robert Brandenberger go over our evidence for inflationary theories and discuss how inflationary models improve on the hot big bang. David Sloan, Robert Brandenberger 04 Apr 2017
9 Inflation After Planck Professor Jerome Martin (Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris) explains the current state of evidence for inflationary models. Jerome Martin 04 Apr 2017
10 Inflationary Attractors Dr David Sloan (Oxford) discusses the for inflation to occur given typical initial conditions. He argues that, on the right understanding of the background dynamics of the universe, inflationary conditions dominate. David Sloan 04 Apr 2017
11 Does Inflationary Cosmology Solve Fine-Tuning Problems? Professor Robert Brandenberger (McGill) argues that inflationary models still face considerable challenges. Robert Brandenberger 04 Apr 2017
12 Panel on Inflation Professor Joe Silk talks with Professor Robert Brandenberger, Professor Jerome Martin, and Dr. Dave Sloan about the current state of research and controversies surrounding inflation. Joe Silk, Robert Brandenberger, Jerome Martin, David Sloan 04 Apr 2017
13 What Fine Tunings Are There? Is the universe fine-tuned for life? In the first part of their discussion, Bernard Carr and Jim Hartle discuss how physical theories might contain unexplained assumptions that are necessary for the existence of life. Bernard Carr, Jim Hartle 06 Dec 2016
14 The Quantum and Cosmological Scales How do we combine our theory of the very small with our theory of the largest scales of the universe? In the second part of their discussion, Jim Hartle and Bernard Carr hash out the connections between cosmology and quantum mechanics. Jim Hartle, Bernard Carr 06 Dec 2016
15 Physics and Philosophy What are the limits of physics? In the third part of their discussion, Bernard Carr and Jim Hartle talk about the point at which physics ends and philosophy begins. Bernard Carr, Jim Hartle 06 Dec 2016
16 No Boundaries for Quantum Cosmology Where is the observer in the universe? In the fourth part of their discussion, Jim Hartle and Bernard Carr discuss Jim Hartle’s no-boundary proposal. Bernard Carr, Jim Hartle 06 Dec 2016
17 The Observer Strikes Back What is an observer? In the fifth and final part of their discussion, Jim Hartle and Bernard Carr discuss the nature of observers. Jim Hartle, Bernard Carr 06 Dec 2016
18 Dark Matter, Fine-Tuned What surprising features of our theories cry out for explanation? Rocky Kolb and Rafael Alves Batista consider features of our theories that look unlikely or unnatural, and what our chances are for building a unified theory that explains them. Rocky Kolb, Rafael Alves Batista 12 Oct 2016
19 Why Now? We’re at a particularly interesting time in the evolution of the universe. Rafael Alves Batista and Rocky Kolb chat about the interesting features of our time, and why we should--or should not--expect to be living now. Rocky Kolb, Rafael Alves Batista 12 Oct 2016
20 Dark Matter Particles What sort of things could dark matter be, and how would we tell which it is? Rafael Alves Batista and Rocky Kolb review the main candidate dark matter particles, and consider our chances for telling which one is out there. Rocky Kolb, Rafael Alves Batista 12 Oct 2016
21 The Future of Dark Matter In the third part of their discussion, Celine Boehm and Justin Read mull over what we can learn from dark matter. Will understanding dark matter lead us to a small change in the standard model, or a large one? Justin Read, Celine Boehm 12 Oct 2016
22 How Does Dark Matter Act? In the second part of their discussion, Celine Boehm and Justin Read talk about how dark matter acts, both on large scales, at early times, and in small galaxies much nearer to us. Justin Read, Celine Boehm 12 Oct 2016
23 How Do We Find Dark Matter? In the first part of their discussion, Justin Read and Celine Boehm go over our evidence for dark matter and consider the possible particles that could make it up. Justin Read, Celine Boehm 12 Oct 2016
24 Dark Matter(s) Discussion Celine Boehm, Rocky Kolb, and Justin Read discuss fine-tuning in dark matter models, how we judge astrophysical parameters to be fine-tuned, how we get evidence for dark matter, supersymmetry, and our prospects for finding the dark matter particle. Celine Boehm, Rocky Kolb, Justin Read 04 Oct 2016
25 The Level of Fine-Tuning it Takes to Make a Dark Matter Model Dr. Celine Boehm (Durham) discusses the possible dark matter particles and the constraints--theoretical and experimental--on their parameter space. Celine Boehm 04 Oct 2016
26 The Decade of the Wimp Dr. Rocky Kolb (Chicago) discusses the theoretical reasons to expect dark matter to be a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP), and the prospects for finding one. Rocky Kolb 04 Oct 2016
27 Astrophysical Probes of Dark Matter Dr. Justin Read (Surrey) explains the astrophysical evidence for dark matter, and our prospects for getting more information about its nature and interaction by looking at nearby dwarf galaxies. Justin Read 04 Oct 2016
28 New Frontiers in Cosmology In the fourth part of their discussion, Joe Silk and John Peacock conjecture about future developments in cosmology. What part of cosmology is most likely to be fruitful? This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on May 12, 2016. John Peacock, Joe Silk 13 Jul 2016
29 Dark Energy and the Multiverse In the third part of their discussion, Joe Silk and John Peacock consider approaches to dark energy. Should we accept the multiverse, or wait for a theory of quantum gravity? John Peacock, Joe Silk 13 Jul 2016
30 New Data and New Work In the second part of their discussion, Joe Silk and John Peacock discuss possible future sources of data and developments in cosmology. They conjecture about the search for dark matter and its impact on astronomy. John Peacock, Joe Silk 13 Jul 2016
31 New Statistics and Prediction In the first part of their discussion, Joe Silk and John Peacock compare approaches to statistics and how these bear on predictions in cosmology, including Weinberg’s prediction of the cosmological constant. John Peacock, Joe Silk 13 Jul 2016
32 Practical Fine-Tuning In the fourth part of their discussion, Luke Barnes and David Sloan look for ways the fine-tuning problems can lead to advances in physics. Luke Barnes, David Sloan 13 Jul 2016
33 Comparing Theories In the third part of their discussion, Luke Barnes and David Sloan puzzle over the way we compare theories, and whether there can be a theory that doesn’t have some unexplained posits. Luke Barnes, David Sloan 13 Jul 2016
34 New Approaches to Probability In the second part of their discussion, Luke Barnes and David Sloan go over the difference between frequentist and bayesian statistics, and how this difference applies to astrophysics and cosmology. Luke Barnes, David Sloan 13 Jul 2016
35 What Is Fine-Tuning? In the first part of their discussion, Luke Barnes and David Sloan come up with a working understanding of fine-tuning. They also discuss various examples of fine-tuning in physics. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on May 13, 2016 Luke Barnes, David Sloan 13 Jul 2016
36 The 3rd Workshop in the Physics of Fine Tuning-discussion The 3rd Workshop in the Physics of Fine Tuning - Stars, Galaxies, and the Multiverse, audience and panel discussion John Peacock, Joe Silk, Adrianne Slyz 27 May 2016
37 How do Galaxies know when, where and how quickly to form stars? The 3rd Workshop in the Physics of Fine Tuning - Stars, Galaxies, and the Multiverse, Adrianne Slyz (Oxford) talks about How do Galaxies know when, where and how quickly to form stars? Adrianne Slyz 27 May 2016
38 The Limits of Cosmology The 3rd Workshop in the Physics of Fine Tuning - Stars, Galaxies, and the Multiverse, Joe Silk (Oxford, IAP; John Hopkins) talks about The Limits of Cosmology Joe Silk 27 May 2016
39 Observer Selection and Fine-Tuning Puzzles in Cosmology The 3rd Workshop in the Physics of Fine Tuning - Stars, Galaxies, and the Multiverse, John Peacock (Edinburgh) talks about Observer Selection and Fine-Tuning Puzzles in Cosmology John Peacock 27 May 2016
40 Testability, Physics, and the Multiverse In the third part of their discussion, Mario Livio and Joe Silk ask: could our theories exceed our ability to test them? Have they already? This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016. Joe Silkl, Mario Livio 19 Apr 2016
41 Our Place in the Cosmos Astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio delivers a speculative talk about humans place in the cosmos. Mario Livio 10 May 2016
42 Life in the Universe: Where and How Can We Find It? In the fourth part of their discussion, Mario Livio and Joe Silk talk about the way planetary systems form and the preconditions for life-bearing planets to exist. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016 Joe Silk, Mario Livio 19 Apr 2016
43 Capitalizing on diversity: Outcomes of planet formation as initial conditions for life Michael R. Meyer, Institute for Astronomy, Department of Physics, ETH Zurich, delivers a talk about planet formation and conditions for life to exist. Michael Meyer 10 May 2016
44 Telescope Design and the Search for Life In the first part of their discussion, Michael Meyer and Suzanne Aigrain lay out the conditions for habitability on an exoplanet and challenges of looking for such planets. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016. Suzanne Aigrain, Michael Meyer 20 Apr 2016
45 Where and how might we search for life? From planet demographics to biosignatures Professor Suzanne Aigrain is an expert exoplanet researcher. In this talk she will outline the methods for detection and characterisation of exoplanets in the context of finding planets that might harbor life. Suzanne Aigrain 10 May 2016
46 Fine-Tuning and the Scientific Process In the second part of their discussion, Michael Meyer and Suzanne Aigrain talk about the way they, as working physicists, think of fine-tuning in complex planetary systems. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016. Suzanne Aigrain, Michael Meyer 20 Apr 2016
47 Is Our Solar System Special? In the third part of their discussion, Suzanne Aigrain and Michael Meyer discuss ways in which our solar system is unusual in its makeup and formation. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016. Suzanne Aigrain, Michael Meyer 20 Apr 2016
48 Assessing Fine-Tuning in Physics: How Many? How Fine? How Come? Bernard Carr of Queen Mary University of London looks at sources of fine tuning in physics and their possible explanations. This talk was part of the Consolidation of Fine-Tuning Project's first workshop, "Life in the Universe", on November 3, 2015. Bernard Carr 02 Mar 2016
49 What Can We Learn from Planetary Surveys? In the fourth part of their discussion, Suzanne Aigrain and Michael Meyer discuss how we move from observations of exoplanets to conclusions about their types and formation. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016. Suzanne Aigrain, Michael Meyer 20 Apr 2016
50 Fundamental constants and biology George Ellis of the University of Cape Town shows how we can use a space of possibilities to assess the fragility of life. This talk was part of the Consolidation of Fine-Tuning Project's first workshop, "Life in the Universe", on November 3, 2015. George Ellis 02 Mar 2016
51 Top Down Causation Ard Louis in conversation with George Ellis. Part one - Top Down Causation. George Ellis, Ard Louis 11 Apr 2016
52 Possibility Spaces Ard Louis in conversation with George Ellis. Part two - Possibility Spaces. George Ellis, Ard Louis 12 Apr 2016
53 Fine Tuning in Biology Ard Louis in conversation with George Ellis. Part three - Fine Tuning in Biology. George Ellis, Ard Louis 12 Apr 2016
54 Explaining Fine-Tuning Ard Louis in conversation with George Ellis. Part four - Explaining Fine-Tuning. George Ellis, Ard Louis 12 Apr 2016
55 Life in the Universe: The Fermi Paradox In the first part of their discussion, Joe Silk and Mario Livio consider the chances of life elsewhere in the universe. They talk about the Fermi paradox and responses to it. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016. Joe Silk, Mario Livio 19 Apr 2016
56 Biosignatures and the Search for Life In the second part of their discussion, Joe Silk and Mario Livio go over biosignatures: things which, if observed, would be evidence for life. This discussion was conducted at Trinity College, Oxford, on February 12, 2016. Joe Silk, Mario Livio 19 Apr 2016