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Confirmation of varying fine-structure constant

  1. Nov 10, 2011 #1
    http://theconversation.edu.au/is-life-on-earth-due-to-a-quirk-in-the-laws-of-physics-4153

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1008/1008.3907v2.pdf

    Also discussed here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/

    Certainly this has a lot of far reaching implications (perhaps even more than FTL neutrinos): but I have some questions: Webb says one consequence/explanation of this could be that our universe is infinite, I fail to see how this is a surprise, actually the FRW universes with flat and hyperbolic spatial curvature (open universes) are infinite, right?
    Also when it says that this finding breaks the Equivalence principle I guess he is referring to the "Einstein equivalence principle" (see wikipedia) version that I think is basically WEP+Lorent invariance?

    ADDED: I have just seen a similar thread has been opened in the astrophysics subforum, I leave it to the Mentors to decide whether to merge my post or not.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2011 #2
    The fine structure constant could have varied by up to 50 parts per million.
    So one or more of e, Eo, hbar, or c have changed over the history of the universe?

    A new breed of Astro Physicst?
    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/
     
  4. Nov 11, 2011 #3

    Chalnoth

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    I'm still exceedingly suspicious of this result. It looks like the result comes out of just a handful of the total quasars observed (most of the quasars observed lie along the equatorial plane, with just a few in the direction where the dipole is claimed to be).

    I probably won't be convinced without some independent measure of the fine structure constant. And I'd also like to see far more quasars observed near the poles of this estimated dipole.
     
  5. Nov 11, 2011 #4
    Of course it is a suspicious finding, and I agree the fact that it has a dipole form makes it even more so (it would seem that such a departure from isotropy would have been observed in other ways), they probably jump to quickly to the conclusion that "the strength of electromagnetism changes gradually from one “side” of the universe to another".
    There's also something odd about the dipole equator in that it seems to follow the ecliptic.
     
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