Inconstant

Today’s PhysOrg newsletter (which I highly recommend subscribing to, by the way – it’s free, pithy, and a great way to keep up with the latest in science and technology) contained some interesting news: it appears that some of the physical laws of the universe are changing over time.

It’s difficult in principle to detect some fundamental kinds of change, because they affect the measuring devices as well as what is being measured. In order to get around this problem, researchers have been focusing on dimensionless constants. Recently an item was published int Physical Review Letters declaring that the ration of the proton mass to the electron mass had varied, and now researchers at Lund University in Sweden after extensive observations of the ancient light from distant quasars, are prepared to announce that the fine structure constant has changed by a few parts per million over the universe’s lifetime as well.

Here’s a quote, and a good one, from one of the researchers, Sveneric Johansson:

“[W]e should welcome all new knowledge even if it does not agree with our present conception of the world.”

The question that I’d like the answer to is: what is really changing when a physical law changes?

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One Comment

  1. MikeZ says

    Laws? Maybe they were just “guidelines”. :-)

    – M

    Posted June 9, 2006 at 12:48 am | Permalink