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Laws of physics may change across the universe and across time   Laws of physics may change across the universe and across time
By Salar Golestanian @ 21 Sep 2011 :: Article Rating
For years I have been meaning to finish my paper that I started to write some 30 years ago. But year on year I move further and further away from Theoretical Physics bringing up a family that now a day, I do have trouble remembering the advanced Maths needed to finish the job. However, finally there seems to be some new evidence supporting my thoughts then when I was studying physics at Uni. There is an idea that we live in an area of the universe that is "just right" for our existence. The controversial finding comes from an observation that one of the constants of nature appears to be different in different parts of the cosmos today. My big question is what about in the past?

space distortionIf correct, this result stands against Einstein's equivalence principle, which states that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. I have always maintained a belief that Laws of physics are not the same in all parts of parts of the universe, nor has it been constant in the past. "Today This finding was a real surprise to everyone," says John Webb of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Webb is lead author on the new paper, which has been submitted to Physical Review Letters.

Even more surprising is the fact that the change in the constant appears to have an orientation, creating a "preferred direction", or axis, across the cosmos. That idea was dismissed more than 100 years ago with the creation of Einstein's special theory of relativity.

What the paper says:
Evidence for spatial variation of the fine structure 

J. K. Webb, J. A. King, M. T. Murphy, V. V. Flambaum, R. F. Carswell, M. B. Bainbridge
(Submitted on 23 Aug 2010)
We previously reported observations of quasar spectra from the Keck telescope suggesting a smaller value of the fine structure constant, alpha, at high redshift. A new sample of 153 measurements from the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), probing a different direction in the universe, also depends on redshift, but in the opposite sense, that is, alpha appears on average to be larger in the past. The combined dataset is well represented by a spatial dipole, significant at the 4.1 sigma level, in the direction right ascension 17.3 +/- 0.6 hours, declination -61 +/- 9 degrees. A detailed analysis for systematics, using observations duplicated at both telescopes, reveals none which are likely to emulate this result.

John K. Webb lead the observational work at UNSW using high resolution spectroscopy of quasars to search for variations in the fundamental constants of Nature. 

He has a BSc University of Surrey which I also did my first degree in Surrey couple of years before John and that is why we never ever met. He went on to University of Cambridge to do his PHD.

It is bad that I had no idea until today that he in 2001 discovered that the so-called fine-structure constant varied when he examined light from sixty-eight quasars (very bright young galaxies). The speed of light is one of four constants that the fine-structure constant comprises, so the result is another suggestion that varying conditions in the universe may cause the speed of light to change.

A decade ago, Webb used observations from the Keck telescope in Hawaii to analyse the light from distant galaxies called quasars. The data suggested that the value of alpha was very slightly smaller when the quasar light was emitted 12 billion years ago than it appears in laboratories on Earth today.

Now Webb's colleague Julian King, also of the University of New South Wales, has analysed data from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, which looks at a different region of the sky. The VLT data suggests that the value of alpha elsewhere in the universe is very slightly bigger than on Earth.

The difference in both cases is around a millionth of the value alpha has in our region of space, and suggests that alpha varies in space rather than time. "I'd quietly hoped we'd simply find the same thing that Keck found," King says. "This was a real shock."

This "dipole" alignment nearly matches that of a stream of galaxies mysteriously moving towards the edge of the universe. It does not, however, line up with another unexplained dipole, dubbed the axis of evil, in the afterglow of the big bang.

Earth sits somewhere in the middle of the extremes for alpha, if correct, the result would explain why alpha seems to have the finely tuned value that allows chemistry – and thus life – to occur. Grow alpha by 4 per cent, for instance, and the stars would be unable to produce carbon, making our biochemistry impossible.

Even if the result is accepted for publication, it is going to be hard to convince other physicists that the laws of physics might need a rewrite. A spatial variation in the fine-structure constant would be "truly transformative", according to Lennox Cowie, who works at the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii. But, he adds, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence: "That's way beyond what we have here." He says the statistical significance of the new observations is too small to prove that alpha is changing.

Sadly most conservative scientists suspects there is a flaw somewhere in the analysis. "I think the result is not real," which is exactly what I faced 30 years ago every time I raised the question with my lecturers – They all wanted evidence to back-up my claims. Now it seems that John Webb is on to something quite revolutionary in Physics World.

One possible reason that the Universe is not as distorted from our perspective is that the change in universal constants are more dependent on time than distance. Since all our observations are very recent therefore, what we observer are measured by tools that are bound by the physical constants today and in the space near us and not the space nearer the distant objects we observer or at the time the events happened normally billions of light years away and therefore taking billions of years light takes to reach us on earth.

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About Scifiwood News Reviews and Blogs
These are various short and long News Articles, Reviews and Blogs by Salar Golestanian and employees of as well as contributors of The subject matter are mixed topics with Pure Science to Science Fiction as well as general topics on Web Trends, Technology, Software Engineering genre, or whatever subject that can affect the convergence of today's technology with Science Fiction in any shape or form.  These Blogs and Reviews don't have commercial or corporate aspiration, so they are indeed completely independent views. Some of these entries may be short and just link you to the actual news or site that can expand further on the subject of interest.  In Phase II we plan to incorporate some Social Networking applications within the portal.