- Physics & the Universe
Source: Science Daily
A team of astrophysicists based in Australia and England has uncovered evidence that the laws of physics are different in different parts of the universe.
Well….duh! I certainly don’t have a PhD or a team of research scientists behind me, but ever since I was a young child, I’ve assumed that other parts of the universe behave differently than our local scene. That’s why I never understood the classic imagery of aliens or extra-terrestial beings as being so human-like. Why would you think that intelligent – or even simple organisms – in a distant galaxy thrive the same way we do? Why would another planet, hundreds of light years away, need oxygen or nitrogen? Why would it’s inhabitants need water or hydrogen?
Our classical scientists have always thought that since we humans need these things to sustain life – and because they have not seen otherwise – that all living creatures must function in this manner. But what if in a distant galaxy, oxygen is poisonous to it’s inhabitants? What if they absorb uranium and an aluminum alloy in order to function and live, which is abundant on that planet? Why must we be so self-centered and egotistical as to believe that everything still revolves around “us”?
The team — from the University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Cambridge — has submitted a report of the discovery for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters. A preliminary version of the paper is currently under peer review.
The report describes how one of the supposed fundamental constants of Nature appears not to be constant after all. Instead, this ‘magic number’ known as the fine-structure constant — ‘alpha’ for short — appears to vary throughout the universe.
“After measuring alpha in around 300 distant galaxies, a consistency emerged: this magic number, which tells us the strength of electromagnetism, is not the same everywhere as it is here on Earth, and seems to vary continuously along a preferred axis through the universe,” Professor John Webb from the University of New South Wales said.
“The implications for our current understanding of science are profound. If the laws of physics turn out to be merely ‘local by-laws’, it might be that whilst our observable part of the universe favours the existence of life and human beings, other far more distant regions may exist where different laws preclude the formation of life, at least as we know it.”
“If our results are correct, clearly we shall need new physical theories to satisfactorily describe them.”
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