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Articles / Astronomy

A team of Australian and English astrophysicists may have radically transformed our understanding of the cosmos last week with a discovery suggesting that the laws of physics (as we know them) may not apply to the whole Universe!

llustration of the dipolar variation in the fine-structure constant, alpha, across the sky, as seen by the two telescopes used in the work: the Keck telescope in Hawaii and the ESO Very Large Telescope in Chile. (Credit: Copyright Dr. Julian Berengut, UNSW, 2010)

The report is still being peer reviewed (and pending publication in “Physical Review Letters”), but should the discovery be verifiable it will be a historic revolution in our understanding of how the Universe functions (and perhaps even how it was created).

The inconsistency in the laws of Nature was found to lie in the universe’s fine-structure constant (known as ‘alpha’). This multinational team measured the alpha of around 300 distant galaxies using Chile’s Very Large Telescope (V.L.T.) and correlated their findings with previously collected data from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Although the constant varies by a minuscule 1 part in 100,000 over the observable universe, it opens the possibility that larger differences could occur while casting potential doubt on the consistency of other (supposed) Universal constants. Our entire understanding of the Universe (and its creation) are hinged upon the universal constants, for some of them to be variable will have a drastic impact on this understanding.

Interestingly, Professor John Webb of the  University of New South Wales has indicated that the change  “seemed to vary continuously along a preferred axis through the universe”. The implications of this finding still have yet to be determined.

Should these results be verified, it would finally shed some light on one of the greatest mysteries known to modern science – “have the laws of physics been the same throughout space and time?”

This is truly an exciting time to be a member of the Human race.

Written by: Ben Lovatt

UPDATE: While research is still ongoing into this matter, more recent observations are generally siding with this variability.


Source: eEarth TV
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