Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Changing Constants

For 10 years an Australian research team including Michael Murphy, John Webb and Victor Flambaum, have investigated apparent changes in the fine structure constant Alpha. This value, e^2/hc, combines the speed of light with Planck's value h and the electron charge e. Though their work has received some good press from time to time, physics still tries to ignore it.

The team's latest paper has been submitted to Physical Review Letters:

Evidence for spatial variation of the fine structure constant

Previous work showed a smaller value of Alpha at high redshifts. Combining data from our Keck telescope with the European Southern Observatory's VLT, new evidence shows that Alpha is higher in a different direction. It appears to show a dipole effect, seemingly aligned with Earth's poles. Evidence mounts that "constants" such as c are not really constant, as predicted. The Universe which is governed by these values is far more wondrous than humans imagine.



Blogger ZenMaster said...

Physics moron here. If I may ask, what would a non-constant fine structure "constant" imply?

5:55 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Hi ZM: The fine-structure value Alpha affects atomic processes. Alpha = e^2/hc, where e is the electron charge, h is the Planck value and c is the speed of light. If Alpha varies, that is evidence that one of those "constants" has also changed.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Yeah, this is pretty cool. The simple lowering of alpha had me mystified, but this sounds right. So now it's about time that a few more groups started looking at this.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Ulla said...

A changing Planck constant? Sounds familiar :)

What can induce a change?

1:06 AM  
Blogger LEO VUYK said...

For a simple GPS lightspeed experiment see:
and perhaps also:

And perhaps also:

9:51 PM  

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