Researcher shows physics suggests life could exist in a 2-D universe

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James Scargill, a physicist at the University of California, has written a paper reporting that the laws of physics allow for the existence of a life-supporting two-dimensional universe. MIT's Technology Review has reviewed the paper and found that the work does show that such a 2+1 universe could exist.

Because we live in three-dimensions, it is difficult for us to envision a in which the third does not exist—or one in which there is a fourth or fifth dimension. But philosophers and physicists have spent a lot of time and work trying to figure out if could exist in anything but the three dimensions we know. In such discussions, time is also included, which has led to the description of what we experience as a 3+1-dimensional universe.

As TR notes, most physicists have concluded that our 3+1-dimensional universe is the only one that could support life. They point out that with more than three dimensions, Newton's laws of motion would be susceptible to problems with tiny perturbations, which would prevent the formation of orbits—like planets around a sun. So that is out. But what about a two-dimensional world? Most experts suggest it is difficult to imagine how gravity could work in such a universe, making it difficult or impossible for life-supporting systems to form. In his paper, Scargill suggests we might need to rethink this argument. He has shown that the do allow for gravity in a 2-D world, and also the development of systems capable of supporting life.

In his paper, Scargill uses formulas to show that scaler gravitational fields could exist in two dimensions—and goes on to show that the necessary complexity needed for life could also exist in a 2-D universe—and he does it using neural networks as a basis for comparison. He starts by exploring whether there are any 2-D networks that have all the same characteristics as a neural network. He then shows that 2-D networks can be built in modular fashion to overcome the problem of crossing edges. Then he shows that such networks can demonstrate criticality. And by doing so, he demonstrates that there could exist a life-supporting 2-D+1 universe—at least according to physics.


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More information: J. H. C. Scargill. Can Life Exist in 2 + 1 Dimensions? arXiv:1906.05336 [hep-th] arxiv.org/abs/1906.05336

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Citation: Researcher shows physics suggests life could exist in a 2-D universe (2019, June 25) retrieved 19 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-physics-life-d-universe.html
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Jun 25, 2019
This "research" is utterly ludicrous. No 2 dimensional objects actually exist so lifeforms are out if the question!

Jun 25, 2019
Researcher shows maths faerie tales are acceptable to "scientists".

Jun 25, 2019
through thinking about how it could be possible, and building a theoretical working model... New possibilities are realized. In general this one of many tried and true methods applied in a process of creative innovation.

Jun 25, 2019
"Newton's laws of motion would be susceptible to problems with tiny perturbations, which would prevent the formation of orbits—like planets around a sun. So that is out."

Orbits are not obligatory to the formation of life, nor are suns, galaxies, or planets, for that matter. In fact, the physics and astrophysics of this universe are an almost diabolical obstacle to the development of living things. Only an incredibly tiny percentage of the volume of our cosmos is available. Space does not support life, none of the stars. Life exists only on a 15 kilometer-at-best   f i l m   on this planet. There is not very likely anywhere else in the Solar System that is suitable, and exoplanetary Goldilocks Zone-occupying orbs are coming into view of data analysis few and far between.

Jun 25, 2019
This "research" is utterly ludicrous. No 2 dimensional objects actually exist so lifeforms are out if the question!
How do you know they do not exist?

Jun 25, 2019
And climate change will destroy even more 2-D objects, bummer.

Jun 26, 2019
Cellular Automata = Turing Machines
QED.

Jun 26, 2019
It is of course interesting that complexity (of networks) is a possibility in other spaces, but the idea that it is a counter example to survival bias ("anthropic principle") preferring 3D spaces is arguable. Life is cellular, and that means dimensions higher than 3D are out - no "bags" can hold innards in them - and lower dimensions are problematic - a cell can have one pore at most in 2D or it falls apart and cannot exist at all in 1D.

@dirk_bruere: That is a statement on algorithmic complexity (Turing machines can do any calculation), not physical (cellular automata cannot do relativistic physics).

Jun 27, 2019
The problem I have with this conclusion is that it doesn't properly define the question. What are we looking for when we talk about probability of life? Do we mean life like ourselves, life as we know it, life as it is currently defined by science? Do we specifically mean cellular life? Is the question: can a cell exist in 2 dimensions? I'm not certain that question is entirely relevant. Would not a 2 dimensional universe create very different opportunities for self perpetuating complexity that grows and reproduces? The actual question the research appears to be asking is: can gravity form planets and orbits in a 2D universe? Again, I'm not convinced that question is entirely relevant to the formation of life.

Jun 27, 2019
Whys, I was thinking about how a 2-d universe would be established. Then I thought about two 2-d universes interacting with each other. Both remaining distanced and distinguished from one another while simaltaneously operating together in a third universe with extra dimensional capacity.

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