Variation of fine structure constant and spacetime?

  • Thread starter asimov42
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  • #1
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Hi all,

I'm going to ask a naive question - hope that's ok. There's been a lot of recent discussion of the results from Webb et al. which indicate that the fine structure constant varies spatially. I realize the results are very controversial - I'm wondering, hypothetically, if these results were shown to be correct:

Would this have implications for our view of spacetime? I.e. would the 'structure' of spacetime vary with location? E.g., would we still work with a smooth 3+1 manifold? Would the geometry of the manifold change?

Sorry, I realize that the above is probably not very coherent - it's a question from a novice ;-)

Thanks.

J.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
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1. The fine structure constant is a constant which describes the strength of the electromagnetic interaction. Changing the fine structure constant changes things like the energy levels of atoms.
2. The results for the varying structure constant have been inconsistent and varied, which is a strong indication that the results are spurious and should be disregarded at this time.
 
  • #3
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Would this have implications for our view of spacetime? I.e. would the 'structure' of spacetime vary with location? E.g., would we still work with a smooth 3+1 manifold? Would the geometry of the manifold change?
Hard to say. It will just be one more piece of the puzzle that people will use to figure out what is going on. If we did find that the fine structure constant was changing either in distance or time, the next step would be to take detailed measurements on how it was changing.
 

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